1971: The Road Starts Hear
Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler onstage with Joe Perry, spanking a Les Paul Junior, circa 1971.

This long-lost relic was recorded before the band’s 1973 debut LP, with guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford (aged 21 and 19), bassist Tom Hamilton, and drummer Joey Kramer fueling the fire behind frontman Steven Tyler.

Using Perry’s two-track Wollensak 1280 tape machine, these songs were captured at their basement rehearsal space (in a Boston University women’s dormitory) or during soundcheck. Though amateur recordings, the quality is surprisingly clean.

Aerosmith: R. Agriopoulos.

Perry and Whitford noodling on Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” slips into a stomping version of “Somebody.” The smoky Rufus Thomas cover “Walkin’ the Dog” grooves heavily on Hamilton’s slinky bass beat and Tyler’s breathy flute fills. “Reefer Head Woman,” a smoldering blues classic later recorded for Night in the Ruts, includes Perry’s volcanic solo and Tyler’s harmonica blasts. “Major Barbara” is country blues oozing with slide guitar; it was recorded, but not used for ’74’s Get Your Wings and proper studio outtakes didn’t appear until decades later.

“Dream On” is close, arrangement-wise, to the legendary hit, and the band’s emerging hard-rock muscle is felt on “Movin’ Out” and “Mama Kin.” While raw, The Road Starts Hear will be tempting for fans of primal early Aerosmith.

This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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