Review by vonwegen November 11, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
|Toys In The Attic roars out of the box in the surround sound mode--the title track can catch you by surprise if you don't turn down your system a bit--it slams into you full force.
All through the album, the distorted electric guitars sound fabulous, with lots of satisfying low-end muscle, with different, often overlapping guitar parts coming out of all 4 speakers.
The dry signal for Steven Tyler's vocals comes out of the center speaker, with the FX spread out over the back speakers. Drums & bass sound full and natural.
The music? Lots of things buried in the CD mix are out in the open here--"Uncle Salty" reveals all osrts of "Abbey Road" influences (!) and "Adam's Apple boasts a full saxophone section barely hinted at on vinyl and CD. "Big 10-Inch Record" actually sounds fabulous in surround, what with all the horns coming out of the back speakers. "Sweet Emotion" is really, really great sounding & I can actually hear the triangle loud and clear on the final verse for the 1st time ever (considering that I bought this on vinyl back in 1975, and on CD in 1997, that is saying something). The backwards taped handclaps bounce from left to right from the rear, the maraccas & tambourine are crystal clear and for the 1st time, I can actually hear the bass marimba during the intro! Also, the 5.1 mix extends the song a full measure and reveals for the 1st time that Jack Douglas edited out a measure where Joe Perry paused in his solo before continuing to play to the song's end.
Only "No More, No More" suffers a bit in surround, because the dual acoustic guitars (which sound lovely) were designed to accent the stereo mix and do not play except in certain intervals, creating a sonic hole when they stop and are replaced by a piano track, which unfortunately happens when the song gets louder towards the choruses.
Otherwise, the sonic placement of the individual instruments & vox are inspired, with no annoying panning effects to speak of.
I give this one 4 stars in performance because the last 2 numbers, "Round & Round" and "You See Me Crying" are throwaways, IMHO. The former is a circular Brad Whitford riff that wears out its welcome instantly; he later refined it to create the much more likeable "Last Child" on the following album. "YSMC" is Tyler's Beatles homage, a piano-driven power ballad with orchestra that tries much too hard but can't rise above being the mush that it is.
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