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Veteran Rockers Stay True to Their Trademark Style

** 1/2 AEROSMITH, "Just Push Play," Columbia

March 10, 2001|NATALIE NICHOLS

These veteran rock stars have milked their style for decades, so why change now? "Just Push Play" is precisely what you'd expect from a 21st century Aerosmith album. The production is ultramodern but the songs remain the same, all funky hard-rockers, bluesy anthems and (a blessed few) overblown power ballads.

This approach highlights Aerosmith's vitality and is far less embarrassing than, say, the band cavorting with Britney, 'N Sync, et al during the Super Bowl halftime show. Unfortunately, the songs are a little too much the same, with all 12 ruminating on love or lust in sadder-but-wiser tones that make the band sound not exactly mature, but completely tame.

Frontman Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, co-producing for the first time (with seasoned associates Mark Hudson and Marti Frederiksen), do add some fresh sonic elements. Surprisingly, the techno undercurrents on such numbers as "Drop Dead Gorgeous" are less a desperate bid to sound hip than a subtle way of updating the group's classic Big Rock sound.

Given the familiar territory, the quintet musters a surprising amount of enthusiasm for such throbbing standouts as "Light Inside." Yet Tyler's patented innuendo-laden lyrics feel almost coy in this era of laying it all on the table.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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