No Dice Honey, I’m Livin’ On The Astral Plane

It’s the dawn of the day and I’m crashed and I’m smashed
As it is I’m feelin’ like my chips are cashed
All of my clothes strewn all over the room   (Bright Light Fright)

I drink to you, your mind, her ass
We’ll take a drink and break the glass   (Critical Mass)

Blinking in the wan sunlight of another early commute I decided I needed a musical pick-me-up, something hostile, raucous and genuinely dangerous.  A renowned international tastemaker such as myself could have resorted to cutting edge avant-hard Bulgarian electronica, or something unsavoury and growling from Ukraine, but mid-scroll I realised that the most defiant, totally baked-not-faked, radically punked, stoned monolithic, provocative LP in my collection is in fact Aerosmith Draw The Line.  This album does not want to be your friend and if you cut yourself on it, you’d probably lose a limb.

Following on from the band’s megahit LPs Draw The Line was less-released, more walked into the room onto the bottom of someone’s shoe, in 1977.  Whereas its predecessor, Rocks* was a brilliant album produced while surfing a wave of narcotic celebration, the narcotic tsunami had broken hard on the band by the following year and coupled with constant touring they were all ‘Sick as a Dog’; Joe Perry later reminisced that he could see how badly they had fragmented, because they were all using separate drug dealers.  So by the time they had been sequestered away in a former convent in upstate New York, guns drugs and all, to record Draw the Line there were absolutely no fucks given … about anything.

I first bought Draw The Line back when I was 18, loved the first and last track, thought everything in the middle was a mess and sold it for cash a few years later.  In recent years I couldn’t find a decent enough second-hand copy so I bought a new one I saw cheap online which turned out to be a RSD 2013 re-release of 3000 copies**.  So it was interesting to slap the platter on the griddle and see what I made of it now.  [SPOILER ALERT: I love it].

Checkmate honey, beat ya at your own damn game
No dice honey, I’m livin’ on the Astral Plane

The ironically titled title track kicks it all off good and proper, you want a meaty slice of decadence marinated in a sauce of salty sleaze berries, served on a bed of shredded nerves and excess? course you do. Built around Joe Perry’s 6-string bass lick it is an excessively frenzied account of frenzied excess, the medium is the message.  Tyler’s screamed section after the (literal?) breakdown is one of my fave Aeronuggets.  Whatever do the lyrics mean?

An Indian summer, Carrie was all over the floor
She was a wet night winner, and rarely ever left the store
She’d sing and dance all night, and wrong all the right out of me
Oh, pass me the vial and cross your fingers, it don’t take time
Nowhere to draw the line

‘I Wanna Know Why’ is a great energised Stones-y rocker, with some great parping sax and barreling piano touches, I can barely make out a word Tyler slurs here, apart from the bits he steals from ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’, but that’s not the point.  It just sounds chaotic and chemically concussed; brilliantly so.  The lyrics of ‘Critical Mass’ are a recounting of a dream producer Jack Douglas had – Tyler sang it because he hadn’t anything else completed and yet, somehow, magically it works, harmonica and all; probably because the groove the band locked into was so damn fine.

One of my very favourite tracks on Draw the Line is the Sex Pistols-inspired ‘Bright Light Fright’, a tune the band wouldn’t even do when Joe Perry presented it to them, so he sang it himself and the hurtling result would be worthy of any of the punk pretenders to the Aerothrone.  Stan Bronstein’s aggressive sax playing is just great, adding just the right element of chaos to it all.

All the surrounding discord and jagged edges make the stately, epic ‘Kings and Queens’ stand out wonderfully well, I was never a fan of the track when I first encountered it on their Greatest Hits collection, but heard in context you penny drops and the molecules hit the bloodstream.  Doubly so when the rather batty, sharp-edged rawwk of ‘The Hand That Feeds’ explodes out of the traps straight afterwards, Tyler deploying his full armoury of yelps and squawks and the extended guitar coda is a thing of joy.  Again though the real stars right here are the Kramer/Hamilton rhythm section who keep it tight and right.

My very favourite track on Draw The Line is next, ladies and gentleman I give you, what I am a ‘Sight For Sore Eyes’.  Joe Perry had started the track with his friend David Johansen, who gets a co-writing credit here, along with Jack Douglas; did he write the line ‘Turnin’ in style, walk a mile for your titty’ one wonders?  I love every note of this beast, forget about being a rock band, Aerosmith have their shout for being one of the great 70’s funk bands right here.  The fact that the track doesn’t seem to quite fit together and the production is really up in the listener’s grill, to the point of being hostile, just makes everything even better – Joey Kramer’s drumming really is astonishing on this one.

The old Kokomo Arnold (via-Elvis) track ‘Milk Cow Blues’ closes Draw The Line brilliantly.  Boasting the cleanest production sound on the whole album, the band really take off for the hills here the guitar interplay of Perry and Whitfield is something to marvel at too.

So there you have it all, I just got a bit carried away.  I have come to really rate Draw The Line in its own right, not just as a collection of odds and sods, or a marker of when Aerosmith started to lose the plot.  It was a vast achievement for Jack Douglas to corral such a chaotic situation onto wax at all, to create something that was such a brilliant amalgam of all the band’s strengths, buttressed by a monumental fuck-you attitude knocks on the door of genius.

Draw the Line doesn’t need you to like it; listen to it or not, you choose – it’s too busy living on the Astral Plane.

773 Down.

*one of my very favourite albums ever – one day I’ll be good enough to write about it properly.

**which ain’t very limited really is it? I reckon every household on my street has at least one copy, Gladys and Bert at #27 have at least two.

32 thoughts on “No Dice Honey, I’m Livin’ On The Astral Plane

  1. When I was tackling the Aerosmith discography I ended up skipping Draw the Line because I read some bad things about it, and I was focusing only on the records by them that were considered ultimate classics. Your take on it makes me regret that decision! I will go back to it one day.

  2. I saw an interview with Joe Perry who said that they made this album in order to pay off their dealers. Considering that, the album isn’t all that bad. Unfortunately, they played neither Draw the Line or Kings and Queens at Download.

  3. (Telephone rings)
    Hi Gladys and Bert. It’s me Boppin’. You’re long lost Canadian nephew, twice removed. Long time no see. Listen if you could send me a copy of the RSD Draw The Line in the mail I can use it for bail money. Thanks.

      1. The judge threw the book at me because I only said sorry 87 times.
        Also I tried to suck up and said “Your wig makes you look very manly”
        This backfired since it was apparently a female judge.

  4. I quite liked its predecessor (and I look forward to your eventual review!) but I’ve yet to hear this one.
    Though I really like the juxtaposition when listening to 2 albums back to back, 1 recorded during the party and the follow-up when the party was over. Like Pulp’s Different Class & This is Hardcore – sounds like even if this doesn’t need me to listen or like it, I think I’ll like listening to it anyways!

  5. I know Draw The Line and Kings and Queens, but haven’t so much as heard this album. I want to now, though. You’ve got me feeling like I’m missing out, y’see.

    I take it it’s the RSD version that comes with the illustrated Lego head?

    1. This LP just has a perfect wasted strut to it.

      And yes the Lego charicature version was a RSD 2017 special, released in an edition of 1.

      1. No, this was a US RSD one – I’ve no idea why, it was being sold on Amazon UK. So it is just a Columbia press.

      2. Oh. A wee bonus. I’d seen the MoV press in the Shitbrick Music a while back and I’m sure that was RSD stock. I wonder if that was remastered, too…

  6. Great write up! There is a fantastic stoned slop drunk version of ‘Sight For Sore Eyes” on the all time great ‘Live Bootleg”
    AeroStoned had a great groove back in the 70s didn’t they?
    I may at some point copy and paste this review and change all the text here to another one of fav Aerostoned albums “Done With Mirrors”

    1. Thank you, thank you! I’ve never heard Live Bootleg, I’m ashamed to say.

      My Aerocollection finishes after DTL and doesn’t pick up again until Permanent Vacation- I know, I know, one day I’ll sort it.

  7. This one definitely brings back memories. “Draw The Line”, “Kings and Queens”, and “Critical Mass” were always favorites of mine in the teen years. I didn’t truly appreciate this record though until years later I read Aerosmith biography, and in particular the chapter about the making of this album. Such insanity, debauchery, and machine-gun toting. I think a film could be made of just that time in their career and it would be one hell of a flick. Knowing what happened while making this record it’s amazing they got anything at all. Douglass knew how to wrangle great tunes out of junkies. I think this was the last great Aerosmith album. Their mid-80s second wind brought only droves of studio trickery and armies of songwriters to help them write power ballads. ‘Draw The Line’ was about as punk as ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’.

    I need to find a copy of this one here.

    1. You’re totally right, this is a spunk as fuck.

      As for the debauchery come on, we’ve all blacked out and crashed a jeep while carrying a loaded shotgun on our laps haven’t we? I did it twice this Saturday.

  8. And bespoke caricatures too? The man’s talents are endless.

    From this menu, I particularly enjoyed “a meaty slice of decadence marinated in a sauce of salty sleaze berries, served on a bed of shredded nerves and excess”. Just a normal Tuesday morning in these parts, but sweet to have it summarised so neatly.

    And hey, guess what? Tomorrow I’m posting on a 1977 album too AND the piece contains the f-word. God, we’re so transgressive we should form a punk band.

  9. “Wrong all the right out of me” is the best thing I’ve read all day! Something hostile, raucous and dangerous would definitely pick me up.
    How did I not know Aerosmith were made of this stuff? I’ll have to seek out Draw the Line and Rocks.
    Thank you. 🙂

  10. No fucks given indeed. I WISH they would stop giving fucks, today.

    Morning commutes and this album…you have me wanting to refresh my car flash drive. I think I will.

    I’d also be interested in that RSD vinyl edition. I have to assume this is a new remastering, because the CDs were done in like…1995? And haven’t been reissued since.

    1. Thanks Mike. It was a recent remaster with great quality sound on really thick vinyl.

      Zero fucks given – I’ll have to see if I can get a tie with that on for work.

      1. Maybe some cuff links.

        So this is 180 gram? I have no qualms buying reissues. In fact if the price is right I prefer it because of the pleasure of playing a brand new record.

      2. Also for LPs with a white sleeve, second-hand copies, unless they’ve been looked after and cherished by some freaky Welsh weirdo, tend to never be in great condition.

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