Night in the Ruts is the sixth studio album by American rock band Aerosmith, released on November 16, 1979 by Columbia Records. Guitarist Joe Perry left the band midway through the album’s recording. Initially produced at the band’s Warehouse rehearsal space by Jack Douglas, it was later finished by Gary Lyons by Columbia Records.
A tape from those initial sessions was simply labeled “1979 Originals” and contained mostly instrumental versions of many of the final tracks of the album, all performed by Aerosmith members, but including two that would later be used by the Joe Perry Project. It’s assumed that this tape was cut during the first quarter of 1979 for Steven to listen to while on tour to write lyrics.
- Chiquita (instrumental) – very much the same that Steven and Joe leaked to the radio
- Let it Slide (instrumental)
- Three Mile Smile (instrumental)
- No Surprise (instrumental)
- Shit House Shuffle (instrumental) – full version of the demo included in Pandora’s Box that would eventually be released as South Station Blues by the Project. It includes a couple of different riff variations, but basically the same. The Pandora’s Box version is in an open D tuning, but here they play it in open A on the album (i.e. Cheesecake).
- Discount Drugs (instrumental) – Alt version of the same track that would be released by the project in 1980, the exact same structure, but without vocals, and played by all Aerosmith’s members.
- Mia (demo with early vocal scats, same melody as the final, no words)
- Bone to Bone Coney Island (instrumental)
It’s very interesting to see that during the time that Joe Perry was still part of the band, they had already recorded 8 original tracks (including two that were left unused). It lines up with everything they said back then about Ruts. They had the songs written but no lyrics, while they were on the road in the fall they kept going into the studio to lay down vocals.
The B-Side of the tape includes two rehearsals as extended jams of the band together working on a couple of ideas:
January 31, 1979: Here the band is still in the process of figuring out the arrangement and structure for a song. Steven can be heard directing the band as the have many fail starts.
Joey starts the beat at 127BPM and Brad and Tom join hitting the F# and E chords, then Joe joins playing the intro riff for what eventually would be know as “Conflict of Interest” and move on to the verse riffs for the same song. But then it moves into the chorus of what would become “Cheesecake“, until the band makes several mistakes and stop to talk about how to reiterate.
Indeed an interesting combination of riffs that sounded like a happy hippie rock song from the 70s. Clearly the band had more original songs in them by the end of January, and one can see how frustrating it must have been to have to wait around for Steven to finish lyrics. Really impressive to see that 3 Project songs were almost Aerosmith songs, one has to wonder why they were not finished by the band and left for Joe to work on his solo, and instead including 2 covers in the album.
February 12, 1979: Here the band is still trying to develop arrangements for “Three Mile Smile” for 18 straight minutes. The recording sound less developed than the session found here, where the band’s arrangement are more developed. The band jams on the riff going from G to F over and over again, until it almost feels like the outro section on Sweet Emotion.
In both instances, they clearly run out of time and had to go back on the road, but they were still trying to write new original material as a band, together.