Album Spotlight; Aerosmith has firm ‘Grip’ on comeback path

As comebacks go, Lazarus has nothing on Aerosmith.

An album rock mainstay for Columbia Records in the ’70s, the band was considered your basic burn-out case by the mid-’80s. When Geffen picked them up in ’85, “All we expected was to get to the next gig,” says guitarist Joe Perry.

Instead, after a slow start on the label with “Done With Mirrors,” they sold 6 million copies of 1987’s “Permanent Vacation” and 8 million of 1989’s “Pump.” And Columbia — now Sony — enticed them to come back to the tune of a reported $ 32 million.

Was Geffen annoyed at losing a multiplatinum act? “They weren’t pissed enough to match the offer,” laughs Perry, who only confirms that the Sony deal is worth “quite a bit.”

Meanwhile, the band owes Geffen two more albums, and the first one is a year late.

“We had recorded almost the whole record at A&M over a year ago,” says Perry. “And then we were driving around listening to the U2 record, saying, ‘This is a great record. Are we there yet? No, we are not.’ So we went back to Boston and spent the summer writing.”

The new album, “Get A Grip,” is finally ready for release April 20, preceded by a change-of-pace single, “Livin’ on the Edge.” Co-written by Perry, vocalist Steve Tyler and former Hudson Brother Mark Hudson, the 6 1/2-minute track has the feel of a Springsteen anthem to go with its Bon Jovi-esque title.

Still, there’s plenty of vintage Aerosmith on the disc, produced by Bruce Fairbairn. “Get A Grip” and “Eat the Rich” will satisfy die-hard fans, while pop-oriented “Cryin’ ” should appeal to radio programmers.

A 14-month tour is planned beginning June 2, which was a great comfort to Perry in the height (or depth) of mixing the album.

“It was just not coming out right,” he recalls. “It’s supposed to be shiny and great and it wasn’t. We were pulling our hair out and I told the road manager, ‘Show me the itinerary. Let me see it written down.’ Then I knew it was really going to happen. Then there was hope.”

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