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Album Review

April 18, 1993|JONATHAN GOLD

AEROSMITH

"Get a Grip"

Geffen

* * * 1/2

Rock 'n' roll intellectuals hated Aerosmith in the '70s because the band wrote tight, commercial, radio songs in an era when "pop" was a dirty word. The sound created more or less the template for contemporary hard rock, and today's American hard-rock bands mine Aerosmith the way the Stones used to plunder the Delta blues.

But in 1989, when everybody and his little brother was coming up with variations on Aerosmith's pouty pop craft, Aerosmith came up with something like an art-band record within the Aerosmithsonian context. This time around, a few years older and a $30-million deal richer, Aerosmith seems to have realized the error of innovation. Talk about retro: "Get a Grip" is 1976 all over again, almost as if it, and not "Rocks," had been the band's follow-up to "Toys in the Attic." Here is yet another take on the "Train Kept a-Rollin' " riff; here is Steven Tyler's smutty howl; here is Tom Hamilton's swooping bass; here is a 20,000-Bic-strength ballad that should be the theme song of half the proms in America this year.

In short, "Get a Grip" sounds like the radio--specifically the car radio on a long drive across Nebraska. It's the best Aerosmith album since "Draw the Line" . . . or "Appetite for Destruction."

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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