A Great New Aerosmith Cd?

Aerosmith's latest offering, "Just Push Play," comes on so strong--with such flashy, swaggering, Zeppelin-esque bravado--that you've got to listen to the CD several times before you realize how deeply terrible it is. Hectic. Overproduced. Desperate to sound edgy and newfangled. And the lyrics? Part of Steven Tyler's appeal has always been his childlike obsession with jive talk and wordplay--it's hard to think of anyone in the history of rock who's sung more gibberish--but the empty-headedness of the songs here will disappoint even longtime fans. On the title track, Tyler recycles his famous directive "walk this way." Apparently, he couldn't think of anything else that rhymed with "f--kin' a!"

The problem is not that the boys in the band, who are now edging into their 50s, are too old to rock. Joe Perry is as sinewy and inventive a guitar player as he's ever been, and there are flashes of greatness here, although the simpering pop choruses are almost uniformly lame. The problem is that the songs, which were co-written with folks outside the band, sound so inorganic, so randomly spliced and diced. "Just Push Play" throws everything at the wall: rap, psychedelia, violins, Indian motifs, scrabbling hard rock and wussy piano ballads ("We'll just fly away from here/Our hopes and dreams are out there somewhere"). Only the first single, an instantly likable sunburst of pop rock called "Jaded," really sticks. Will the CD sell a couple of million copies? Sure, it will. But it's certainly not great, hurtling rock and roll, like the stuff on "Toys in the Attic" or "Pump." Don't push play. Just push eject.