"It was the one were we felt, 'wow, we’re there'": Joe Perry settles an eternal debate between Aerosmith fans

Aerosmith in 1977
(Image credit: Ron Pownall/Getty Images)

In 1973, Aerosmith were on the cusp of a big breakthrough. They’d amassed a diehard following, their live shows were killer, and now all they needed was a hit record. So they made two: 1975’s Toys In The Attic and follow-up Rocks, released a year later, was the sound of a band at the peak of the powers, something reflected in both album sales and standing. The two records sold in their millions and both are regarded as Aerosmith classics. There is a long-rumbling debate about which is better, though, and Classic Rock’s Dave Everley put the question to guitarist Joe Perry when speaking to him for the magazine.

Toys… was the first time we went in the studio without a whole album’s worth of songs,” said Perry, sounding a bit like he was buying time so he wouldn’t have to answer the question. “We had to write some in the studio. [Producer] Jack Douglas said: “We need one more rocker.” And I sat on an amp and just started playing a riff. It was the riff to the song Toys In The Attic. That was the album where it felt like were getting some command of the studio. With Rocks we had more confidence. We still had to write stuff on the spot, but that was the one where we had more of a handle on the creativity. Not to say that the pressure wasn’t on. We were touring constantly, we only took time off to go in the studio. No one said: “Take a month off, go write some songs.” It was like: “Go in the studio with whatever ideas you have.” That was how it was. Toys... was kind of the softball album, and Rocks was the one were we felt: “Wow, we’re there.””

He hasn’t really given a proper response yet, has he? Don’t worry, our man Dave pinned him down:

“But which of those two albums is best?“ 

"[Laughs] Okay, Rocks seems like a more direct album. Toys..., there are some high points on it, but I’d rather listen to Rocks.”

And there you have it, the definitive answer on the age-old poser. But we probably have to ask all the other members too before it’s officially ratified…

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.