The title of Aerosmith’s 1979 album Night in the Ruts was more than just a clever spoonerism for “right in the nuts.” It encapsulated the dire state of affairs for the drug-addled, feuding rockers, whose underrated sixth LP was nonetheless doomed to fail.
The Boston quintet had been knocked from its mid-’70s perch by the end of the decade, hobbled by escalating substance abuse and exhausted from touring relentlessly in support of 1977’s underperforming Draw the Line. This incessant tour schedule interrupted the sessions for Night in the Ruts, and Aerosmith’s performances grew increasingly erratic as they ramped up their drug usage even more.
This exhaustion and debauchery worsened the friction between Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The tension came to a head backstage after a show in Cleveland on July 28, 1979, and the guitarist quit the band following a cataclysmic argument. Aerosmith replaced Perry with Jimmy Crespo, who served as an official member of the band from 1979 through 1984.
Night in the Ruts‘ commercial performance reflected the band’s burnout. The album debuted at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 but quickly fell down the charts and was panned by critics. Its only single, a cover of the Shangri-Las’ “Remember (Walking in the Sand),” fizzled at No. 67 on the Hot 100.
Still, Night in the Ruts is far from the unmitigated disaster some critics made it out to be. From the autobiographical rocker “No Surprise” to the sleazy, riff-driven “Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy),” the record features some of Aerosmith’s most fiery performances, harking back to their mid-’70s glory days of Toys in the Attic and Rocks. Still, the album was relegated to the dustbin of history when Aerosmith made their miraculous, MTV-fueled comeback in the late ’80s.
Watch the video below to learn more about Night in the Ruts, and tune into our “Doomed to Fail?” video series each week as we dust off ill-fated classic rock albums and determine whether they’re hidden gems or better left forgotten.