The Making of Pump

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It's rather amazing that The Making of Pump bore a warning that it contains "110 minutes of video that your mother doesn't want you to see," considering that when the video was released in 1990, the members of Aerosmith were all in their forties (most were even parents themselves). In fact, they weren't really the kind of band that mothers were all that concerned about in 1990, even if "Love in an Elevator" had a sleazy double entendre and its video featured lots of babes in bikinis. Still, Aerosmith was in a unique position in 1990. Not only did Pump prove that their 1987 comeback, Permanent Vacation, wasn't a fluke, it cemented their place in hard-rock history. As recently as 1985, it seemed as if time had passed Aerosmith by, since they not only stopped having hits, but there were no hard rockers who sounded like them. Things turned around in 1987, not only because Permanent Vacation was a hit, but also because legions of newer bands (chief among them Guns N' Roses) were using the classic 'Smith sound as a blueprint. This was the kind of unforeseen twist of fate that happens once in a blue moon, and the end result was the mass success of Pump, a sleek, commercial effort packed with hooks and self-conscious sass that appealed to both old-school fans and teenyboppers weaned on GNR. And since those teenagers were the primary audience for home video in 1990, The Making of Pump had to be pushed as a rude, rowdy release, when in fact it was the kind of documentary that would appeal to sober, older fans. Basically, The Making of Pump is what it says it is -- a document of the band crafting a highly crafted record. Since it does clock in at nearly two hours (part of the running time is devoted to the videos for "The Other Side" and "What It Takes," but they account for only a fraction of the total running time, and "What It Takes" is a live-in-the-studio affair, so it seems like a natural outgrowth of the whole shebang), it does require serious attention on the part of the viewer, but it rewards such time. It isn't so much that the documentary provides a lot of great insights, but it does illustrate exactly how much work it took to make Pump sound as seamless as it does. The video confirms that the album was a completely collaborative effort, not only between the band, but with producer Bruce Fairbairn and John Koladner, their A&R representative. Such a statement may imply that the band was unduly pushed by commercial concerns, but that's not entirely true. The nice thing about Pump is that it skillfully balances Aerosmith's core sound and attitude as it guns for the charts. That kind of nifty double play isn't pulled off without a lot of team support, and that's what The Making of Pump proves. For dedicated fans, that's more than enough to make this video a must-see.

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