|First posted 4/1/2008; updated 9/8/2020.|
Released: August 18, 1987
Peak: 11 US, 37 UK, 7 CN, 42 AU
Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, -- UK, 9.0 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: classic rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 51:38
3.792 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)
About the Album:
Aerosmith looked like they might be finished as a band after 1979’s Night in the Ruts. Guitarist Joe Perry left the band during the making of the album, the band members were fighting, and substance abuse was taking its toll. Three years later, the band released Rock in a Hard Place but without Perry and Brad Whitford, who left during recording, the band wasn’t the same.
The original lineup returned for 1985’s Done with Mirrors, but the album was met with a tepid reception. Then rap group Run-D.M.C. came to the rescue. Their #4 remake of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” featured Tyler and Perry and brought the band back into the limelight. Suddenly, during the height of ‘80s hair bands, Permanent Vacation proved “the crucial catalyst in reintroducing Aerosmith to the masses.” AMG It was the group’s most successful album in a decade and found themselves at the top of the heap, reinvented “as ‘80s and ‘90s superstars.” AMG
Credit goes to John Kalodner, the A&R executive who pushed the band to work with “knob-twiddler extraordinaire Bruce Fairbairn and career-revitalizing song doctors Desmond Child and Jim Vallance.” AMG Fairbairn had previously produced three Loverboy albums and, most notably, Bon Jovi’ monstrous 1986 smash, Slippery When Wet. After Permanent Vacation, he also produced Aerosmith’s next two albums – which were even bigger successes.
Desmond Child had also worked on Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, co-writing the #1 hits “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” While “Child’s pedantic writing often compromises the timeliness of even the best material,” AMG Dude Looks Like a Lady, co-written with Tyler and Perry, proved a perfect song for the ‘80s. It offered a tongue-in-cheek nod to the contradictory nature of hair bands (a movement which Aerosmith was now part of) looking affeminate while promoting themselves as hyper-masculine. The band also managed to give the song enough pop sensibility to make it a hit without abandoning their rock cred.
Jim Vallance co-wrote all the songs on Bryan Adams’ 1984 smash album Reckless, which included the #1 “Heaven” and top-five hit “Summer of ’69.” He co-wrote Rag Doll with Holly Knight as well as Tyler and Perry. The song gave Aerosmith its second top-20 hit from the Permanent Vacation album.
After those two straightforward rock songs, the album’s third single “showcases the band at the peak of its power ballad cheese.” AMG “The crowd-pleasing schmaltz of Angel” AMG ended up the band’s biggest hit to date, soaring all the way to #3 on the pop charts.
The album’s “pre-fab radio gems…remain largely unassailable from a ‘delivering the goods’ perspective” AMG and “the mostly stellar songwriting…makes it a strong effort overall.” AMG There are also “a guaranteed number of incredible tracks for any time and place. These include the earthy voodoo blues of St. John and the excellent hobo-harmonica fable of Hangman Jury.” AMG
Still, “some of the album’s nooks and crannies haven’t aged all that well because of Fairbairn's overwrought production, featuring an exaggerated sleekness typical of most mid-‘80s pop-metal albums.” AMG There are cuts that “lean to the filler side,” AMG but “the awkwardly Caribbean title track and the cover of the Beatles’ I’m Down are well executed.” AMG
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