One of the highlights of 2021's Record Store Day Black Friday line-up was 1971 (The Road Stars Hear) - a never-before-heard, earliest-known recording from the classic line-up of rock band Aerosmith. Nearly five months after its vinyl debut at indie record stores, the set will be released to the general public - on a pleasing variety of physical and digital formats.
The Road Starts Hear captures the Boston quintet - vocalist Steven Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer - performing at an unconfirmed local location (assumed to be either a soundcheck or a rehearsal space) in October 1971. Then-roadie Mark Lehman captured seven songs, five of which would be heard on the band's self-titled debut - still two years away from release, with the band's signing to Columbia Records far off in the distance as well. But those songs ("Mama Kin," "Movin' Out," "Somebody," "Make It" and future Top 10 hit "Dream On") were hardly embryonic, ready to grab the ears of New England listeners even then. (The other tracks are a Jazz Gillum cover, "Reefer Head Woman" - later released on the band's 1979 release Night in the Ruts - and "Major Barbara," later recorded in the studio and issued on 1986's Classics Live!)
The set - popular enough on RSD to chart on the Billboard 200 - will now get a wide release on April 8, not only available on vinyl again, but CD and digital as well. (Collectors know this isn't always guaranteed - so it's worth making positive noise about in the hopes it happens more.) Like the RSD package, the general release will feature vintage photos from the time as well as images of the tape box and new liner notes by Rolling Stone writer David Fricke (with quotes from the band therein). It is the first release from the band's so-called "Vindaloo Vaults," which they'll be mining for belated 50th anniversary activity as part of a surprise deal with Universal Music Group, who now distribute not only the band's recordings for Geffen (from 1985 to 1996) but their storied Columbia masters as well (from 1971 to 1984 and 1997 to present).
Hear the version of "Somebody" from 1971 (The Road Starts Hear) above, and pre-order and check out the track list below.
1971 (The Road Starts Hear) (previously released as UMe B0034036-01, 2021)
- Reefer Head Woman
- Walkin' the Dog
- Movin' Out
- Major Barbara
- Dream On
- Mama Kin