Big Ones You Can Look At
Leering-adolescent title notwithstanding (Earth to band: Haven’t you heard you’ve got more class than Van Halen?), Aerosmith’s new post-comeback video anthology, Big Ones You Can Look At, demonstrates that, musically, at least, a rock band can actually get better as it gets older. Aerosmith’s initial output, rightly derided by ’70s critics as derivative Yardbirds/Stones pastiches, may have been fun, but few of the songs amounted to more than a lyrical cliché or catchphrase over an okay riff. The ’80s efforts, in contrast, are about as good as roadhouse rock & roll gets, and several of the ’90s hits — ”Janie’s Got a Gun,” in particular — are classics of their kind and among the best singles of recent years.
That said, the videos here remain a numbing, depressing experience, especially when viewed in sequence. Over and over, we get the same visual clichés — sexy schoolgirls, motorcycles, deserted highways, Joe Perry doing Keith Richards kicks, Steven Tyler strutting Jagger-like — played out against banal imagery lifted from commercials and Road Warrior-esque sci-fi flicks (or in the case of the video-game graphics of ”Amazing,” from both). True, there’s some small attempt to vary the mix; for example, the first couple of clips (the hit ”Livin’ on the Edge” among them) are prefaced by ”making of” segments that may be mildly interesting to potential film majors. But most of Big Ones is awfully small-minded. C+