Livin' on the Edge

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Get a Grip turned out to be one of Aerosmith's most contrived and contemptible records, but fans never would have known from advance EP Livin' on the Edge, which whips out two extra, exceptional treats. First, two stripped-down demos of the apocalyptic, Yardbirds-referencing "Livin' on the Edge" bring out the quintet's individual contributions much clearer than the glossed-over album version. And the dilapidating finale fits the song better as well. Aerosmith gets their rocks off with a silly swagger in "Don't Stop," one of those arena chant flip-offs/outs only the Beantown boys can give cred. The lid really blows with "Can't Stop Messin'": a masturbation ode the Toxic Twins co-authored with team-up marvels Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw detailing the classifieds, he-shes, and the religion of the hand. Production by the late, great Canadian Bruce Fairbairn stuffs this package until the inevitable explosion, then begins another wind-up with mouth-harp, a killer ascending chorus and cutting-edge guitar-sonics for the close of a disc with all the wit and grit Get a Grip should have writ large. The dirty old men of Aerosmith deliver in less than 30 minutes, with not a hang-dog ballad or stiff hip-hop beat in sight.

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