Rock in a Hard Place is the sound of Aerosmith at their most "out of it." Not to say it's a horrible album by any means -- in fact, there are more than a few pleasant surprises -- but without the guitar team of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, it didn't possess the magical chemistry of their '70s classics. Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay filled in for the departed duo, and it turned out to be the group's most studio-enhanced and experimental record up to this point. To keep up with the then-current musical climate, vocoders and synthesizers can be subtly detected, as heard on the space-age "Prelude to Joanie" and in the beginning to the otherwise tough rocker "Lightning Strikes," which served as the album's lone single/video. "Jailbait," "Bitch's Brew," "Bolivian Ragamuffin," and the title track showed the band could still rock out despite their three-year layoff between albums, a cover of "Cry Me a River" showed their gentle side, while the psychedelicized "Joanie's Butterfly" was the album's surprise highlight. But it didn't take an expert to know that Aerosmith was not the same after the loss of the aforementioned members. And so did the band, who welcomed Perry and Whitford back into its ranks two years after Rock in a Hard Place.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato