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AC/DC

All those double entendres are just a BIT childish, aren't they?

Introduction
High Voltage (Australian)
          '74 Jailbreak
          High Voltage (American)
TNT
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (American)
Powerage
Let There Be Rock
If You Want Blood (You Got It)
Highway to Hell
Back in Black
Bonfire
For Those About to Rock
Flick of the Switch
Fly On the Wall
Who Made Who
Blow Up Your Video
The Razor's Edge
Live
Ballbreaker
Stiff Upper Lip

Whooooooooooooooooooooooo! AC/DC don't need no stinkin introduction paragraph, all you eggheads out there, 'cos all they wants to do is RAWK! That's right, RAWK! Just take themselves a catchy riff, play it 100 times through a bitchin SG guitar and a wall of Marshall stacks, screech something about their penis, then pull the birds in the audience and go back home and punch some kangaroos for inspiration! It ain't a joke, they ain't dumb, and they're one of Keith Richards's favorite bands! Whaddya say to that, plebes? You want a lineup, mister? Two Young brothers, both from Australia, both on guitars. One's all goofy and plays fast solos and wears short pants. The other one is ugly and writes all the brilliant riffs. Singer? Bon Scott until 1979, a hilarious guy with more charisma than the LA Forum filled with talk show hosts. Then Brian Johnson, a guy who's thrown his voice out more times than my stomach and too much vodka! Drummers? Phil Rudd, maan! Then Simon Wright! Bassists? Mark Evans! and Cliff Williams! And one unnamed bagpiper who RULZ! Fucking RULZ!

Capn's Note: I found out Bon Scott plays the bagpipes on that song. He RULZ even more!!!


High Voltage (Austalian Version) - Atco 1975.

Not many of you are going to run across this one, their Aussie debut album that has almost nothing in common with the American High Voltage released several years later. Some things here for sure haven't gelled quite yet, the sound being one of them. Its all wirey, barely overdriven, and spiky. They're also playing a boatload of generic blues boogie songs, the leadoff 'Baby Please Don't Go' being, well, not generic because it's a great song. Bummer it's been covered by every band on God's Green Earth, including and not stopping with Air Supply. They're also playing at about half the speed they usually do, which saps the energy from these songs faster than a gulletful of gin-soaked vomit. 'She's Got Balls', 'Little Lover', and 'Stick Around' (that's three in a row) just chug along at mid-tempo, not making me want to bang my head or ANYTHING. They just sit there. And what with those riffs? It's like Rudimentary Lead Guitar I lessons here. Not to mention the soloing, which besides on 'Show Business' is a real let down. The mostly instrumental 'Soul Stripper' is a bit better 'cos at least it moves some. And while 'You Ain't Got a Hold on Me' sounds nice and catchy, it sounds about as menacing as a kitten with a case of the sniffles.

But hey, 'Love Song' is pretty great. That intro is worth tracking this album down, and just to hear this band do a power-ballad for the first (and last) time in their career is worth even paying for the record at the counter instead of making a run for it out the record store door. I like this song! It's not sappy, because Bon and the drummer (whoever it is) doesn't let it be that way, and the fact that the guitars sound better (lighter! cleaner tone! warmer! not so irritating!) on this track than the entire rest of the record helps too. 'Show Business' wraps things up with a nice sneer, but Bon would do these kinds of 'it sucks to be a rock 'n' roller but we'll do it anyway because we love the fans' songs a lot better on their next album.

Capn's Final Word: Not AC/DC as you are probably familiar with them, and they for sure make some mistakes (like most of the first side) here, but its still got some fun on it if you can stand the well-worn boogie cliches.

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'74 Jailbreak - Atlantic 1984.

I'll include this compilation here because, though it wasn't released until 1984, and starts off with the blazing 'Jailbreak' from the Aussie Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, it consists mostly of tracks from the Aussie debut (which, I might add, came out in 1975 not 1974, but who's counting? Apparently Atlantic isn't.) And those tracks aren't the bad ones that were thrown onto the American High Voltage, neither. They're other ones. Like 'Show Business'. That's a good track! And 'Baby Please Don't Go' is all right too, for a shopworn blues cover. 'You Ain't Got a Hold on Me' and 'Soul Stripper' also aren't bad songs, but I think they may rate somewhere lower on the 'good' meter.

Something that doesn't rate low on the Good Meter is 'Jailbreak', another one of the CLASSIC early AC/DC songs. It's all hard metallic riff and Bon Scott spouting about prison and murder. 'Jaillllllll-break!' And more, it shows just how much energy AC/DC had just a few years after their formation. They were the Power Load! They Were About To Explode! One of the top hard rock songs in my limited, chemically addled memory.

So if you buy the American version of High Voltage and this record, you've got 6 songs from the Aussie debut. But not 'Love Song' so that's a bummer.

Capn's Final Word: Get this for the 'Jailbreak' riff alone. The other tracks aren't so bad either.

 

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High Voltage (American Version) - Atco 1974

Tell ya one thing...they're already sounding like they know what they're doing, at least here on the non-Australian version of their debut record. AC/DC haven't quite struck the heavy depths they later would on stuff like, say, Powerage, and their riffs aren't quite ripe on all of these...but when you have a hardcore motherfather on vocals like Mr. Bon Scott, you don't need to bid more than a dollar on THAT washer/dryer set, Mr. Bob Barker! The first ever song on this album, I mean #1 on the CD player LCD is 'It's a Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll' and it's, quite possibly, the BEST AC/DC song, EVER! That's right, you heard me right! It's the best damn one...forget yer 'Back 'n' Black's and your what-have-you's and your kakoe-nye-boods because this is the ONE, mister. It's all about how friggin hard it is to stay high and get ripped off all the time, has a catchy little acidic blues-rock riff and dammit, Bagpipes! Call-and-response Pipes! And they are GREAT! They fit the song, like, well, like some stupid studio trick or usual guitar solo NEVER would. Rave on! What a song!

Bummer not all the others are quite up to that level, you know? But still you have at least some semblance of a riff and some rocking going on in each one. I dunno how wise it was to put 'Rock 'n' Roll Singer' right next to 'Long Way to the Top' since their lyrical content is nearly identical, but I'm not a 5'2" 16 year old guitarist wearing short pants and a tie, so what do I know? I know 'The Jack' is too long, too unfunny, and has too little going on to be one of the ONLY early-period song they still play in concert. 'Live Wire' is saved by Scott's charisma on the mike, again. Could you imagine this song done with anyone else? No way. The minimalist riff/rhythm section would sound like it was bored out of its skull. But somehow, Bon makes it happen.

As for side B, 'TNT' has an even wirier guitar tone than before (is he playing out of a Pignose practice amp or what?), but that chorus is a classic, even if it IS a bit stupid. Those lyrics are far below the level of the good songs on this record. I like the solo, though. So short, but so ALIVE. Oi Oi Oi! I like that too. 'Can I Sit Next to You Girl' is Chuck Berry usual other than the heavy breathing chorus which sneers harder than Johnny Thunders. 'Little Lover' is slow and dull, and I don't like 'She's Got Balls' too much, regardless of the idiotic lyrics. Who am I to call AC/DC lyrics idiotic? Not all of 'em are bad, in fact, some of them are pretty astute, but when they suck they're still decent enough to stick to the riffs. (When Bon's writing, anyway) But 'Balls' is also too slow (the riff is just a slowed-down version of one of the other songs, man!) , and that's a crime I can't let reach into my pants pocket for $100, no way. But 'High Voltage' picks it up again in the manner of 'Live Wire' and I'm back in Sydney with the Melbourne Blues Again, Mama!

Capn's Final Word: A few tracks eat it, but as a whole its funner than a mouthful of Pop Rocks with a swig of Jolt. Those two Australian debut album tracks ('Balls' and 'Little Lover') really pull it down, though.

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TNT - Albert Productions 1975.

The Australian version of the American debut High Voltage, which was the American version of the Australian debut High Voltage. Heh. But all you need to know if that your ass smells like corn and that hole in the ground has more worms in it. Oh, and that TNT is the American High Voltage, except those crappy tracks ('Little Lover' and 'She's Got Balls') are replaced by two winners, 'Rocker' and 'School Days'. 'School Days' you'll probably know from Mr. Charles Berry (and which reminds you that AC/DC stole almost all their old stuff from him). 'Rocker' is so FAST and SIMPLE and EXCITING it MAKES me write in CAPS! Another one of those classic cool early AC/DC songs I just eat up.

Capn's Final Word: So if for some reason you come across this record, and you don't own the American High Voltage yet, buy this instead.

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Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - EMI 1976 / Atco 1981

Released by a hungry Atlantic Records following the success of Back in Black among the Male target group of 10-24 year olds in an effort to raise more money to buy cocaine and promote crap like the Firm. Well, their gain is your loss, I mean, in terms of a few seconds off of the title track and a minute of 'Ain't Not Fun Waiting Around to Be a Millionaire'. Damn those record companies! They're usually such NICE guys, but then they go and make an unintentional gaffe like this. I guess we can forgive them this time. They've been so good to us all these years, I can't stay mad for long. Those record company guys are such cuddly-pusses.

This album is fine fun for family and friends. The title track is another one of those Top 5 AC/DC songs of all time...funny, great riff (a few of 'em!), some cool soloing, and a little bit of Menace for ya, too. 'Big Balls' is 'The Jack 2' and sounds about as funny. Bon puts on a snarfy upper-class twit accent and has at it with a bunch of puns, but garsh if this song don't bore me too. 'Rocker' don't, but I've already capitalized on that bitch, so I'm not talking about how rapidly it kicks ass. See, those 'Mericans never got to hear it on TNT, since that was sorta Australia-only, so good for them they got to finally get it 6 years after the fact.. Unfortunately 'Problem Child' is named after a disappointing film, a character study of a young child with ADD and how he copes with his world that shuns him, because the song rips...esPECIALLY when those maracas come in...I LOVE them maracas. My favorite auxillary percussion instrument, hands down. So the song goes on for about 2 1/2 minutes too long without too much happening. These guys were still, like, 12 years old, so what can you do? Call 'There's Gonna Be Some Rockin' a half-speed version of 'Rocker'? Sure, you could do that! Call 'Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)' another blues rock Bon Scott vehicle? Whose only reason for living is a great chorus and Bon Scott's singing style? Yup! But what a chorus and what a singing style it is! One of the best of each of whatever category each of those belongs to, no doubt! It doesn't mean that the song couldn't have been about half this length (I'd go for the fast half, thanks).

Jeez but then 'Ride On' comes on and suddenly makes all those claims that AC/DC wrote the same song over and over again suddenly logically untrue. Here's the exception! Its a slow blues song. How many of those do you get in these parts? (I just looked at the word 'parts' and laughed. That means I've been listening to way too much AC/DC and must now go do penance by doing an ELP review.) But gosh, Bon Scott is so good at sounding sincere at whatever he does I can't help but feel like he's really that tired and burnt out and all. Musically its got some nice solos, and those lyrics are just a bunch of blues cliches, but again we've got the Bon Scott show going on here, and that's enough to make the song work. 'One of these days, I'm gonna change my evil ways...haha' always gets me no matter how tired the sentiment and lyrical turn are. Shit, its AC/DC! I'm not gonna downgrade the fact that they're extremely effective at their chosen style of music, but then again I'm not going to overrate them and totally praise them to the nines. I guess I'm beginning to understand why people either fall on one side of the fence or the other when it comes to this group. Either AC/DC's ability to play these sorta tired hard rock cliches makes you cry for originality and diversity or it makes you wallow as if you were in rock heaven. No album seems to personify the AC/DC listener split better than this one. It really ISN'T that great, not when listened to critically or with a lot of analysis on your mind. But listen to it while in a 'hard-rockin' mood, and it's one of the greatest little hard rock albums ever. It's harder for me to justify loving than TNT, maybe, but fuck it...I know what side my bread is buttered on.

Capn's Final Word: One marvelous classic hard rock album. That some of you will hate.

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Let There Be Rock - Atlantic 1977.

Certainly another AC/DC album. That's for sure. It's even got the logo on it now. Umm...how many times exactly has it been that I've heard the riff on 'Go Down', huh? Now I' not sayin' that they're getting stale here necessarily, you can't go stale if you were recycling on your FIRST record...but I am saying that maybe they aren't going anywhere too quick. Not a lot of artistic growth going on. There was some growth between the Aussie debut and TNT, for sure. And even some growth with Dirty Deeds, a mite little bit anyway. And this one grows even a tinier miniscule little bit too. I'm not saying it doesn't rule!!! C'mon who am I? An AC/DC friend, that's who! And aren't we all glad this record's better than the last one rather than a total stinker? Yup, sure we are!

But....but...I want just a little more! My ass is sooooo close to getting kicked out the window. Well yeah, the guitar tone on this one is a lot more heavy and fuzzy than before, superbly approaching the guitar tone used by Zeus himself. Loud, too. If you need proof of the new tone, listen to 'Bad Boy Boogie' right before 'Problem Child' (yeah, it was on DDDDC, too, and in the same version, natch) And the mood of this record is generally a tad more aggressive and dark than previous efforts, as if Bon wants some chick to suck his dick because he's angry, not just horny. Take 'Dog Eat Dog' for example: the song just pounds away as Malcolm (?) strums this amazingly loud riff that you can't even here the solo over. And 'Let There Be Rock' is faster than the Ramones, for Joey's sake! And Bon's God delivery is just flattening. It flattens me. Boom. I'm flattened. It's hard, perfect rock 'n' roll music, nothing more. See? Stop asking me so many Damned Questions!

Songs like 'Whole Lotta Rosie', the track that ends up this slab, are the kind that make you think the whole album was perfect, superb, and excellent. It's really that good. The song I mean. So fast, so catchy, so funny, that you forget tracks like 'Overdose' and 'Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be' were a little lame, with not much more than that heavy sound going for them. Or that you'd heard 'Problem Child' before.

Capn's Final Word: Jeez. The highlights on this are better than most of their other songs, but some of these just fall a tad short of the mark. The sound is THERE though.

 

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Powerage - Atlantic 1978.

Hold the phone. THIS is spectacular. Without selling out a bit of the ol' AC/DC sound as established on Dirty Deeds and expanded on with Let There Be Rock, Powerage gives them the CATCHY TUNES to back up their confidence. And each song has a HELL of a riff ripped from the Book o' Catchiness. Each song! you hear me? No filler material here! Each one of these little babies is a little bashing jem. Some of 'em are fast and out of control ('Riff Raff'...which has a killer solo, you hear me?) Some of em are bluesy and out of control ('Down Payment Blues', which is also hilarious...damn. How many of these kinds of songs can this group come up with? I'm seriously limited in the number of adjectives I have left to describe them all with). Songs like 'Gone Shootin' and 'Sin City'  may have been usual-sounding filler before, but for some reason here they seem to come alive. I dunno...I'm gonna blame it on two things: Firstly, the riffing as we've discussed before, and Secondly, the production.

Shit, now I've done it. I've written myself into a hole here. I've already praised AC/DC's sound on Let There Be Rock, and I've already praised its riffing about a million times. So I'm left with not much else to justify liking this album more than Let There Be Rock. That album had some of those 10 million miles per second songs, and this one doesn't. Maybe I underrated Rock? Maybe I'm overrating this one? No no, I've got it. Powerage is more consistent than LTBR. This one doesn't have any duffers on it at all. But...but...some of them sound like rewrites of LTBR tracks (like 'Kicked in the Teeth'...that's just fucking 'Let There Be Rock' again! You all just copied the entire song and changed the lyrics and the solo!) Aggh! This is mind-wracking! What to do? What to do?

Fuck it. I'm gonna upgrade both of these to solid A's because, dammit, NO ONE plays like AC/DC did on these two albums. No one can do it! It was their peak! Highway to Hell might be really good, but it was the work of one Mutt Lange, while these two are solidly the products of Scott and the Brothers Young.

Capn's Final Word: AAAAAAAACK!!! Pflllt! Pffllt! Pffllt! Buy this record before it eats my brains!

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David Elliott       Your Rating: A+

Any Short Comments?: WELL. As an Auuuuustraylian, 'Powerage' is one of our finest cultural exports, and probably the pinnacle of AC/DC's career. Brainless, noisy, aggressive, and ridiculously funny - it really is a masterpiece, and is about a million times better than the gruesomely overrated 'Back In Black'. I'm listening to 'Rock and Roll Damnation' and... well... it makes me shed a tear for the motherland. God bless Australia. Besides, don't YOU want an album in your collection that has a song called "Kicked In The Teeth Again"? I know I do. Your Email (optional): beavis78@optushome.com.au


If You Want Blood You Got It - Atlantic 1978.

Live album and aren't we all surprised. Actually, I view it as a kiss off farewell to the old, non-hit factory AC/DC. The one with the raw production and the heavy sound. Because they never sounded quite like that old '76-'78 group again. After this they got themselves a real producer and set out making themselves huge rich rock stars.

If you like your AC/DC extra raw and nasty, start here. Don't worry that the sound is a bit sludgy, 'cos this one is a shot of icy brown Meth right in the base of your spine. What exactly would that do to you? Cause an infection? Eh, forget I said that. This is a Real Good Pure Live Rock Album. They DO fulfill some of the Requirements for Good Live Albums, also. Change the songs? Nah. Jam with purpose? No, not really. Display Lots of Energy? Yeppers! AC/DC live isn't about doing a lot of new or inventive things with their songs. They just play the hell outta the ol' bastards while Bon is up there directing the show yelping like a paranoid white boy. Who's short. Didja know that? All the ol' original AC/DC guys were real short. At least until they got rich with Back in Black and Malcolm surgically transplanted his legs with those of a Nigerian bronze-medal hurdler.

AC/DC sure were held back in the studio, judging by the evidence presented on this here record. Bon screams! The guitars (if you listen through the sludge) are slashing, tight, angry violent monsters, and, well, that's it. That's all I can hear anyway, except for the cymbals. Those cymbals crash with SO much more sensitivity than in the studio. They should headline next year's Lillith Fair. Do they still have the Lillith Fair, or what? I guess they had to stop when the Las Vegas Police Department had to break out the Jaws of Life to remove Sarah McLaughlin's mouth from my enormous penis.

Capn's Final Word: 52 minutes of YEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! slightly marred by poor sound.

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Jim Cosby jmcsby5@aol.com   Your Rating:A
Any Short Comments?: Absolutely. I think "problem Child" and "bad Boy Boogie" pretty much sum up AC/DC for me. Chuck Berry on steroids, and with a bad attitude.

 


Highway to Hell - Atlantic 1979

Produced by the guy who later started doing the nasty with Shania Twain, you'll immediately notice some differences with this record. First thing is some reverb smacked on just about everything in sight except for Bon's vocals. Then there's the John 'Mutt' Lange trademark, those slick, bassy backup harmonies, which are also on just about every track here. The 'heavier' musical vibe of the last few records is gone now, and in its place is a lighter, more catchy, quicker-on-the-corners sound that places all the solos and cymbal crashes and all in precisely the right place. These songs were arranged carefully, you see, and only when you look really closely do you see all the work that went into this record, because on its face its just another collection of excellent riffs and vocal hooks. Like that title track, which is also one of their best-ever's...or the hook on 'Girl's Got Rhythm', which is so snappy it's danceable. A lot of these songs go back to the ol' faster-is-better AC/DC philsophy ('Beating Around the Bush' sounds like something off High Voltage, bar those backup vocals of course), which is also welcome by your humble host after Powerage, whose lack of genuinely fast songs was one of the few criticisms I could come up with. And Highway is less blues-rocky! Sure they use blues scales, but there's for sure less of that 'generic boogie' thing here and more of a, umm, 'pop-heavy-rock-boogie' thing. Or something. Reviewing AC/DC albums is hard work.  'Touch Too Much' really IS something different, an introduction to 80's pop metal. That's what it is. Without that raw guitar sound (not too raw!) it would be a Def Leppard song, albeit a pretty good one. 'A body of Venus with arms'? That's so funny! Really! So 'Shot Down in Flames' and 'Get it Hot' are the same mid-tempo Stones-y songs (I guess they heard Keef liked AC/DC and decided to return the favor), but they're allright. Nothing too comment worthy, maybe a little sniff of filler material, but then I love Bon's delivery on these songs. Then there's the peak of the record, 'If You Want Blood (You Got It)' in which, like the title track (but less overplayed) all the parts come together in one great stripped-bare hard rock masterpiece. Bon's vocals and attitude, that masterful riff, that guitar sound, that semi-fastness, those backing vocals that finally click here...it's entering Rock Heaven, is what it is. It rocks! It moves! Not too many bands are this good as to have a song like this. And how Bon sings 'streets' in his Scot/Aussie accent is so cool. It gets so close to going overboard into cheeseville, but somehow stays grounded and just keeps being effective like mad. Now I like 'Love Hungry Man' musically, especially those bass fills by Cliff Williams, who I've never mentioned before (he was new last time...did you notice? I didn't either), but the lyrics (and singing in general) strike me as being Lange specials. Too many times I view this as the track I've got to get through before I get from 'Blood' to 'Night Prowler' and that's a bummer for a song as musically catchy as this one. And 'Night Prowler' is scary, scary stuff. When I said this album wasn't bluesy, I was excepting this slowed-down creepy crawler. Which inspired mass murder (no kidding). And has Bon Scott's best-ever vocals. Hear that? Best ever! His charisma and power are all over this record. I would even call this his shining moment. He reaches vocalist heights not touched by too many folks, you know? That club where Ig and Mick and maybe Jim Morrison hang out. The backup vocals do irritate me here. They're corny! Like Motley Crue or something. All you need is Bon's singing, man. This album review is starting to resemble George Starostin, so I'd better wrap it up. Especially since I've written only one long paragraph, just like the Russian Rocket Himself.

Heh! Not any more! I'm not going to be compared to ANYONE! hahaha! My ego is HUGE! Smell that? That's my Ego! And my Eggo!

Shazbut! Nanoo Nanoo! Goodbye and Godspeed, Bon.

Capn's Final Word: No dropoff in quality here, nosirree! I don't think it qualifies as being that much better than Powerage or Let There Be Rock, but its for sure on the same level, and that level's an A. Solid A.

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Back in Black - Atlantic 1980.

So you know the story, right? Bon Scott died in his friend's car after drinking too much (just to think I could have died that way a few times in college, too. Damn. I was lucky, seriously.) and was replaced by former Geordie singer Brian Johnson, who, well, was the right choice at the time, for sure. Because even though Highway to Hell was a huge success, this one was the record that broke them like your sister's hymen. They sold like 12 million copies of this record in 1980 alone, and that's a nutsy large number. Everyone in high school was wearing the t-shirt, and folks who'd never even heard of AC/DC just two years before were packing stadiums and buying everything in sight that had the lightning bolt on it. Just imagine that at some time (1980, duh.) none of these songs were overplayed. None of them were memorized by anyone. None of these songs was a cliche. Sigh. 'Cos those days are gone, thanks to the braniac marketing majors who run the world nowadays.

Anyway, let's get on and pretend I'm listening to the album for the first time ever (something that actually happened some time in 1984 I think.) For one thing, all of these songs are heavier and darker (music-wise, anyway) than Highway to Hell. The music is more complex and all over the place. Just listen to the muffled-string  'poundy' part in 'Shoot to Thrill'. They never played anything like that before, you know? Dynamics! 'Hell's Bells's menacing heavy metal introduces the new, more serious and less jokey AC/DC. The old band would never be confused with heavy metal, punk maybe, but never HM. This one can be with its dark, demons-flying-around motorcycle thug image and Brian Johnson's evil screech. They also provide this song with a more articulate riff than ever before. No blues cliches here, for sure. 'Back in Black' is simply a riff rock classic like 'Start Me Up' or, well, 'You Shook Me All Night Long'. It's even danceable. Its genius, its tight, and I have each note of it memorized on my mind's jukebox. That understated solo is one of Angus's best.  'You Shook Me All Night Long' as well, which might be an even bigger accomplishment because it sees fit to preserve the party-hearty image of old (for once) and combine it with one hell of a danceable beat. It's amazing, and that chorus hook will get me every time. Listen, you know these tunes. Don't play like you've never heard them. They're rock classics, and they deserve the title. It's impossible for me to talk about them like they're fresh and full of surprises, 'cos they're not. They could be a little more fun, maybe, like the old days (though 'Shook Me' is a nice emulation of and advancement on that style). Have a bit more personality to them. Can't have everything, can we?

Some of these songs just don't turn me on, though. Like 'Given the Dog a Bone'...those lyrics are just dumb, and that hook strikes me as the same. 'What Do You Do For Money Honey' has a muscular riff, but, well...again the nagging feeling that I've heard this riff 3 or 4 times before hits me hard and I stop wanting to listen to those Langeisms on the chorus. On 'Let Me Put My Love Into You', Johnson unfortunately comes across as Ronnie James Dio, and AC/DC as Rainbow, but its a great tune if you take it on those terms. Maybe the hells and bells of this record are taken to such an extreme that the old bluesy sneer-rocking just gets lost completely. And I miss it. That WAS AC/DC for me, and this new one is a bit hit-and-miss. They throw a bone to the old sound on the end of the album for us though. 'Have A Drink On Me' is a great Hell-style throwback, and 'Shake a Leg' must be a Dirty Deeds outtake. With a more complicated riff. And a Lange-penned chorus. Which ruins it for me. And I never miss Bon more than on 'Rock 'n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution', which makes me wish I were listening to 'Its a Long Way To the Top (If You Want To Rock 'n' Roll)', even if its really a great song with a nice hook and some interesting little passages. 'Talk about the future....forget about the past' is one of those that always perks up my ears.

Let's address Brian Johnson's contribution to the album. When you lose one of the frontmen and main writers of a band like AC/DC, which live and die by the quality of their frontmen, its always a big risk when you attempt to continue with someone else. Brian Johnson delivers on all counts, if really only for this record. And just to think that this album was recorded less than 6 months after Bon died and Johnson's contribution is seen in even greater relief. He's masterful here, less funny, more screechy and more liable to enter into fits of 'vocal heroics' than Bon was, but he's got power and confidence to spare. He really was one heck of a killer metal signer at this time.

In short, maybe because of over-familiarity I don't get moved by this record other than to say, 'Yeah, that's great, can I listen to Powerage again?' This album is probably their best ever in a perfectly objective sense, but by me it's loved just a little less than all those records that came before it. Sure, it rocks and develops and is packed full of the kind of songs that define a genre, but it's missing the humor and intricate feeling of the older records. I give it an A for accomplishment, and love the thing whenever its on the speakers, and turn it up when its on, but somehow have a little hollow piece in my heart when I think about it. It's frustrating, 'cos it really is something excellent.

Capn's Final Word: You should own it. But don't forget there's a line of albums before this that are just as good.

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Your Name: Adrian Denning        Your Rating: A       Your Email (optional): mdenster@yahoo.com

Any Short Comments?: Other albums by AC/DC that are just as good? Well, i've only got around six or seven of their records, obviously not as many as you but I find that statement hard to believe. Maybe its true? I hope so, because 'Back In Black' is simply fantastic! No other word will do and it really should be in everyone's collection.

Tyler Moseley Trick6082@aol.com    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I think that AC/DC Rocks hard ass. All y'all dumb***** out there that are maki'n fun of AC/DC don't know real rock when they hear it, being a drummer, I love Phil's steady beats, Angus' rockin solos, and the rythym guitar is rough and nasty, bass is awesome, and the lead vocals are something that you don't come across everyday so in the words of AC/DC......."We roll tonight."

 

Rob     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: Obviously I am in the minority when I say that this record good, but not great.  Man, Brian's vocals are just brutal.  Highway and Powerage are more to my liking.  Thanks.

 


Bonfire - Atlantic 1997.


 

Knocked several grades lower for fleecing the fans. This is a huge honking Mexican welfare mother of a ripoff boxset. Well, not for me. I'm one of those guys who will just never be able to pay $60 for less than 5 hours of music. So I bought the entire AC/DC collection on two MP3 discs for less than $5. Heh! You can, too! The only catch is you have to come to Russia! Any takers? Eh...I didn't think so.

Ok, anyway, for those of you with the spleen and fat wallet to go out and buy this thing, this is whatcher gonna get:

 (1) A live-in-the-studio disc from 1978 that's like a cleaned-up version of If You Want Blood. It's okay, but extremely unnecessary considering they don't change the songs live one eighth-note. But Bon is pretty cool, like I've said on many an occasion, and there's more of him here.

(2) and (3) The soundtrack from the Let There Be Rock video with a couple of extra songs put in. Okay. I'll admit having some HTH live material is neat, but both of these discs together don't add up to 90 minutes of anything. Other than that, lemme remind you that they're at the top of their powers but they really don't change much in concert to make buying this any sort of relevatory experience.

(4) A disc of rarities. Or rather, some familiar songs with some lyrical changes. Some with sorta different arrangements. And some songs that don't change at all from the versions you already have. It's slightly interesting, I guess, to hear something like 'Touch Too Much' in a completely different un-Mutt Lange-ized version. But c'mon. Its a demo disc...no demo disc is more interesting than a regular release, I don't care who you are.

(5) Back in Black. Yup, the same, with Brian 'Talkinboutthe' Johnson. Remastered and with a new sleeve. What kind of a fucking ripoff box set is this? Is there a soul alive that doesn't have this disc? Who the fuck cares about a new sleeve?

This one gets ripped not because it somehow doesn't contain good music. It does, it's early AC/DC isn't it? If for some reason you're just getting into AC/DC, don't own anything live and haven't bought Back in Black yet (and you're rich), I could say that you'd have your head taken off by it. But considering most of us would buy it just because we're huge AC/DC fans, or slightly gullible usual fans, I am putting out the warning that THIS BOX SET IS NOT WORTH EVEN 1/5th ITS PRICE TAG!!!! Let's recap: None of the discs are longer than 55 minutes! The live stuff sounds just like any other AC/DC live stuff, or less interesting! The rare stuff isn't very good! And you have to buy Back in Black again! I'd seriously be hard pressed to put 45 minutes of really great, interesting, new stuff I don't have somewhere other than from this box in one place!

Capn's Final Word: Grow some balls and buy some damn bootlegs already!!!

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For Those About to Rock - Atlantic 1981.

Yup, it's what I figgered. Back in Black is Back. Still tighter than a frog's anus and hooky and all produced and shit. The title track features some of AC/DC's best playing ever, and one of their best riffs, and that hook line and subject manner is neato for a Rock Anthem. If a bit dumb and obvious. But its got cannons. But when Brian yells 'Fire!' and 'Shoot!' it makes me cringe. But when the band bashes along down the finishing stretch I'm in rock heaven land again. And it's the very last really classic AC/DC song for quite some time, so eat it up and go home smiling.

So the rest of the album is a serious letdown both from the title track AND BIB (That acronym sure looks dumb. I'll just call it Black or Back in Black in the future instead of filling my head with images of Angus in a baby bib) which is chock full of the sort of Lange -isms that are really starting to affect the sound for the worse now. 'Put The Finger On You' isn't all bad, but it's really starting to approach the unfortunate sound of 80's hair metal. 'Let's Get it Up' is now the prototypical AC/DC song for the rest of the band's career, an upbeat, non-bummer party song with a rudimentary riff (the genius riffs of In are already drying up...such a shame), a 'rousing' chorus hook replete with harmonies, a paint-by-numbers Angus solo, and a suggestive title that actually has little to do with the lyrics (about sailing? WTF?). Harmless and entertaining in its way, but this is really the sort of song we will soon have our fill of. 'Spellbound', the same. Nothing bad, or offensive, but surely familiar. Brian screeches his balls off on 'Snowballed', probably the song wherein he first snapped his vocal cords and began the journey down the road to Gruntville where he's now living a quiet life as a model citizen.

When they aren't following the 'new formula' they're back to the old game of ripping off others. Some of these songs should be entries in the Where is That Sound Nicked From? sweepstakes. 'Inject the Venom' is quite a Rainbow song. Ha! No really, its not bad and I'd rather they be playing interesting stuff like the stuttering solo section of this one than more of that usual-ness. 'Evil Walks' cops its intro from 'Hells Bells', but the riff is poppy and neato. And the chorus sounds like something from Highway to Hell, and I like that. 'C.O.D.' cops its opening riff and feel from 'You Shook Me All Night Long', but the verse and chorus have some nice Stonesy guitar. The vocals are pure Kiss, though. Erm, okay. I can live with it. 'Breaking the Rules' reminds me of Van Halen. Early Van Halen, so I'm considering it a highlight. 'Night of the Long Knives'...ooh that's a toughy....who is it? That riff is so complicated and flashy, and so un-AC/DC-like, but I simply can't nail it. Let's call it one of the cooler songs on here and say to hell with trying to find out who it's ripped off from. AC/DC are the kings of derivative rock, beit derivative from themselves, from the blues, or from contemporary hard rock stars. They copy only the best stuff and change it in such a way that it's true origins are concealed from the Public. Genius, it is.

The newfangled AC/DC is easier to review than Bon AC/DC because they DO sound different from time to time. It's also somehow easier to say 'this track is good, this track blows' than olden times, because these songs rely so much more on hooks. And hooks either work or don't. Scott AC/DC rocked, but it was hard to nail down exactly WHY they rocked.

Capn's Final Word: No way this is anywhere equal to Black or Hell or any of the late 70's records, but it's a decent place to go to after those masterpieces. Brian's still doing real well voice-wise, and there's enough interesting material to keep us Neanderthals happy.

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Brian Deuel     Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: The first AC/DC album I owned (I begged for it and got it for Christmas '81), I like this one even more than Back In Black. Maybe it's due to the fact that I really liked BIB the first TEN MILLION FUCKING TIMES I heard it. It got kind of stale after that.
This one is a little more subtle hook-wise than BIB. But the hooks sneak up on you after a few listens and you'll find yourself singing lyrics to a few of the songs when you least expect it.

The only real hokey song on this one is the title track with it's cheesy cannon blasts and Johnson screaming "Fire!". But hey, that's rock & roll I guess. The rest of the songs are simple, catchy, and just plain ROCK!

Definitely among the top five, but definitely not Highway to Hell (their peak, IMO).

 

VB     Your Rating: C+
Any Short Comments?: With the glory of Bon and Back In Black gone, AC/DC are reduced to playing the same tired old shit.  The title track, Evil Walks, and Spellbound are all pretty good, but everything else is mediocrity incarnate.  And why does (almost) everyone seem to praise "Put The Finger On You" and "Let's Get It Up" so goddamn much?  Those songs may be the most generic on the whole album!  Bar maybe "Breaking The Rules".

 


Flick of the Switch - Atlantic 1983.

Lambasted at the time for it's inferiority to FTATR and still overlooked in the band's catalogue, I really don't see what's wrong with this record at all. No, it's definitely no classic, those days are really gone for good, but there's plenty of good guitar on this record and most of these songs actually sound like AC/DC songs rather than songs from other people, which was so irritating last time. Maybe a bit too much slower-than-usual in the tempo department, but a lot of this rips it up even better than anything since Powerage did. 'This House Is On Fire' is great! So's the opener! 'Nervous Shakedown' is excellent! 'Deep In the Hole' and 'Guns For Hire' are fine, too...maybe just a bit more predictable.

But they're all the same semi-slow tempo, and after awhile some of it all starts to sound alike. But that's not a huge problem, because, like a lot of AC/DC stuff sounds alike. 'Landslide' is even real fast like old Aerosmith...and it's fantastic. 'Bedlam in Belgium' is a true story about a riot at an AC/DC concert, and another vintage riff on the list. And I also want to mention 'Badlands', a bluesy number which rips its riff off from the middle of Led Zeppelin's 'In My Time of Dying', but its a good one. This is my proof this album is superior to FTATR...an album track buried way down in the song list has a different sound than any other AC/DC song ever. Who cares if they ripped the riff? This rip is of higher quality than any of those on FTATR were! They're not progressing anywhere real fast, but they're not dropping off in quality that far yet, either. Not until next year.

Capn's Final Word: Overlooked, underloved, and a fine addition to an AC/DC collection. You won't be disappointed.

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Fly on the Wall - Atlantic 1985

You waiting for the dropoff? Almost don't buy it that these albums are as good as I've been making them out to be? Well, here you are, Mork from Ork. Brian Johnson loses his voice. But tries to cover it up with ugly reverb. And Angus starts making all these chorusy sounds like he's named Edward Van or something. And this new drummer, Simon Wright, boy he's a loser. He can't drum for shit, that's for sure. And the lyrics start sticking out all over the place and making themselves heard, which is a shame because they're much worse than usual.

I remember this being the first AC/DC album I bought (at all of 10 years of age) after Who Made Who and Highway to Hell. My disappointment then was tempered by two things: 'Shake Your Foundations' and 'Sink the Pink'. I thought the rest of the songs on this album were WAY too repetitive ('Stand Up! Stand Up! Stand Up and Take It!', 'Danger, Danger, Don't Talk to Strangers!' repeated ad nauseum...this is about the pattern for all the songs on the record). Now I'm not even too sure about those two songs (I used to think 'Sink' had a great intro until I realized its the same as 'For Those About to Rock') I think the real killer on this album is that most of the songs just sound like damn filler, albeit filler with a hook. And the band is REALLY giving us hair metal hooks on this one. It sounds like Angus and Malcolm are playing half the stuff and CC Deville is playing the rest.

Eh, I can't be too hard on this disc, though. In general, the band sounds like they're having plenty of fun and some of those hooks really work, you know? And some of the solos really click on this record. Some of the solos suck my Uncle Jimbo ('Hell or High Water') but you know, gotta be charitable. Some folks really dig this more than Flick, but they're nuts. Probably have more than a few Whitesnake and Cinderella albums in their collection. Listen, it's just about the worst album they made, ok?

Capn's Final Word: At their worst, but still strangely listenable. Really straying far from the winning formula though.

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Who Made Who - Atlantic 1986

Not a compilation, but a movie soundtrack, hey? To an awful movie (Maximum Overdrive) I remember I wanted to see only because I wanted to hear AC/DC on a movie soundtrack when I was a kid. I only saw it long after I temporarily rejected AC/DC from my life (Following Razor's Edge's huge sales and their ensuing popularity amongst all the kinds of people I used to hate in junior high) and I realized how soundtrack music can be the only decent thing about a film.

Anyway, what you get with this neato album is 'You Shook Me All Night Long' AND 'Hells Bells' AND 'Ride On' AND the two good songs from Fly on the Wall, 'Sink the Pink' AND 'Shake Your Foundations' AND 'For Those About to Rock'. I'd call that A+ quality so far, wouldn't you agree?

Then there's the new tracks. Okay, okay, the new track: 'Who Made Who', which beats the crap outta all the other hits they ever had since 1981. What a song...they sound pissed, Angus hammers-on, its got a great hook, oh yeah. And there's two instrumentals that could've used some words, 'D.T.' and 'Chase the Ace'. 'D.T.' has a great riff and some awful echo glop all over it. But 'Chase the Ace' is just really great Angus guitar work and no production bullshit.

Capn's Final Word: Look at the track listing. If you don't have these songs, buy the record. Or better, buy all the records including this one.

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Blow Up Your Video - Atlantic 1988.

Dude, 'Heatseeker' is such a great song, and not because I have great big huge honkin' memories of flailing my little 12 year old head to this song. It's fast! It's got all kinds of movement! So, maybe it's not their best riff, or the most melodic song you've ever heard...it rocks! Wheee! 'I don't need no life preserver, don't need no one to hose me down!' Yeaaaah! Their songwriting is ALIVE again.

So if Brian was losing his voice last time and covered it up in a bunch of distasteful reverb, he's now completely lost it. Gargle Gargle, You Old Leadsinger! Screeching through all the songs, Mr. Razorcords just sorta blasts himself all over these tracks in a manner that most in the listening audience would find as 'annoying'. Makes my throat itch just listening to it. That's probably the biggest negative to the record. Like 'Ruff Stuff'...that's simply unlistenable. Clear your throat, fucker!

A second problem is that, other than the fucking high hat cymbal and the godforsaken snare drum, I can't tell any of the different instruments apart in this mix. The two guitars just sound like one big mushy echoey overdriven instrument. And there's NO bass unless he just lets some huge stick-out lick fly. Icky.

The third problem is that retard drummer of theirs. Jesus, that guy does the same four on the floor on every song here. Now, I'm SURE I could drum better than that guy. Click-click-click-Boom-click! Click-click-click-Boom-click! Click-click-click-Boom-click! Yeah! I'm the AC/DC drummer!

But some of the songs are interesting for sure. Creative, even. Dig it: 'Meanstreak' is, like, funk and stuff. 'That's The Way I Wanna Rock 'n' Roll' is another decent fast boogie, so maybe we can forget the 'creative' tag for that one.. Anthemic chorus, dull verse, hey! That, with 'Heatseeker', is two fast-ass tracks in a row, something we need to be thankful for in this late date for AC/DC. 'Nick of Time' is sorta complicated and Rush-sounding in places (maybe not, but I'm gonna leave that). 'Some Sin For Nuthin' isn't complicated, but it sounds kinda unsettled, like in the way the beat keeps heaving along and turning around. I like it! It's different. So's 'Two's Up', which is even sorta 'dark' and 'dramatic' if you know what I'm saying. Brian sounds like a muppet on this one (one of the blue non-human ones, I'd say), but forget him and listen to those cool guitar lines (and solo!) and backup choruses...whee! And 'This Means War' is fast and catchy...double whee!

But 'Go Zone' is a duffer track. And 'Kissin Dynamite' is boring. 'Ruff Stuff' I already mentioned. But let me remind you that Brian Johnson sounds awful on all of these songs. Still, that's not a bad batting average

Capn's Final Word: Would have been a neato instrumental record, or if you could go back and have 1980 Brian sing it and have someone else produce it. Some of the songs are interesting and different, but as a whole you will probably go 'yuck'. .

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The Razor's Edge - Atlantic 1990.

I guess Angus started reading in those wonderful late-80's guitar magazines ('Play Like Nuno!!!','Yngwe's Secrets Revealed!!!') about how he was a guitar hero, because he's all over this monster seller. Hammer-ons here, squeals there, and soloing EVERYWHERE. If you're a big Angus fan, I'd say upgrade this album to an A 'cos you're going to have your 'ead taken off, you know?

And this album was a HUGE hit. Like capital H-U-G-E. And when all the preps and jocks bought it when I was in 7th grade, that was the end of AC/DC for me. I heard the hits on the radio but never heard the album until I borrowed it from my friend a few years later. In my mind, AC/DC hadn't sold out necessarily (not like Metallica a year later...eesh. I couldn't WAIT to take down all my Metallica posters that year!), but had, well, made an album with the kind of hooks that made housewives and preppy boys who wore cardigan sweaters and boat shoes with no socks buy their albums. I liked 'em when Fly was new! I even cranked Blow Up Your Video, so loud it made the neighbors come over and complain, for chrissakes! I was 13! I was sickened, driven away, and disappointed by The Razor's Edge.

But now after 12 years or so of personal growth and perspective, I can listen to this album and see it for what it really is: An attempt to make a bunch of money. I mean, so much of this is geared towards making the big hit song, beit the heavy atmosphere of the title track, the sing-along girl bashing of 'Moneytalks' (hell, the sing-along-a-bility of all these songs. Each one has a monster of a vocal hook. Okay, maybe not 'Shot of Love', which is quite close to hair-metal territory) or the overall twiddle-master live-show-opener extraordinaire 'Thunderstruck'. I bet all these 'big hooks' translated well onto the stage as well. I can easily see fists-a-pumpin' and girls-a-jigglin' to these songs. 'Yeah, It's Alright, We're...Doin' Fine!' is a pretty nifty way of addressing and dismissing concerns that AC/DC was in decline after a couple of disappointing albums in the 80's. And those background vocals are supercool throughout the whole dang thing, god bless me! If I could rewind to 1990 and buy this on the day it came out, I'd probably say AC/DC sounded reborn, fresh, and alive for the first time in awhile, and that's worth a lot. They sound like they could keep rocking along like this for another few decades...which is in fact what they are doing now. And 'Mistress For Christmas' is a hoot, a Christmas song from AC/DC, I guess we've had 'em all now.

For some reason though, I just sorta don't like it all that much. Part of it is the MTV obviousness of it all, its simply an easily digested audience pleasing party-down record that makes me ache for the next hook line to come out and give me absolution from the kinda-dull aspect of a lot of the verses. Then there's Brian, who hasn't had those Ford Pinto-sized polyps removed from his cords yet, again screeching and garbling his way through the songs. Except this time he's not concealed by studio effects, so he just comes right up and belches in your ear like your best friend. Okay, sometimes, I'll give you, he uses his new voice effectively, but on something like 'Fire Your Guns' his screams just sound out as a sad, feeble echo of his Back in Black power. And you still have Mount Retardo on the drums. Listen to 'Got You By the Balls'. That's not drumming. No! Not drumming! It may be some sort of interpretive dance near a drum kit, but its not drumming! And, well, too many parts of this sorta don't sound like my old AC/DC, or even my newer, still-interesting version. They've had a lot of their harder edges filed off even smoother. I like my AC/DC a bit rougher. My favorite album is Powerage, for Bon's sake!

Capn's Final Word: Fine, join the legions of mindless MTV drones who bought this record. It ain't bad. It's not AC/DC's fault I hold a grudge for too long. A lot more enjoyable than I feel like it is.

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Live - Atlantic 1992.
 

Yup, about time for a huge live-album extravaganza, if you ask me. Now, the copy I have of this one is the huge 2 disc 'Collector's Edition', which tops out at well over 2 hours. And what can I say? AC/DC live still kick mightily hard. The band, of course, we never doubted that they could still hack it, but even Brian's voice isn't so bad in this context. No, he totally fails to try for the high notes most of the time, and when he does he sounds like the time my cat had his urinal tract blocked and had to pee really bad. That was a sad time for my little 1 year old kitty, but luckily Brian sounds like his sad times are more or less over for now. His voice slashes around the words, but somehow he enunciates more clearly live than on record. How does that happen? Whatever the reason, it's certainly fine to listen to.

So I mentioned the singer factor. Now for the sound. It's better! Like, if you could imagine a live album having worse sound than If You Want Blood, I'd say you were waltzing in Bootleg Town, you silly postal worker you. Live has all the bells and whistles you'd expect of an early 90's live record...crisp, crashing cymbals, super clear bass, and audience noise only after the song, which is where it belongs. And the band is just as tight and hard as you want.

And song selection? What do you expect, Flamenco Selections from the Benedictine Chanting Monks? 'Blackheads on my Back', 'Who Made Pooh' (which rules without that dumb studio production), 'Turderstunk', 'You Shook Me All Night Long (The TP dispenser song)', and 'Hell's Bells'! Want Bon-era oldies? How about 'Jailbreak', 'Sin City', 'Dirty Deeds', 'High Voltage', 'Whole Lotta Rosie', etc. etc. etc. and ETC.!!! Oh and a bunch of Razor's Edge tunes which don't sound too bad here. There's about a thousand AC/DC songs on this double CD, so I'm sure most everyone's favorites are on here. Mine are, more or less (no 'Rocker', wah.) And no, no new songs, sorry bub.

It's simply impossible for me to dislike this album in any way other than to bitch a little that really they don't change these songs live one iota. Even most of the solos are straight from the studio versions. But do you care? Nah. Brian's newfound decent voice and the lack of any dumb production tricks lends more life to the later songs than ever before, and the early songs aren't an embarrassment at all. Its a great introduction to AC/DC for the neophyte. And every AC/DC maniac already owns it anyway. If two hours is too much live AC/DC for you, buy the single disc and save the extra dough for beer. Or do the smart thing and make sure you already own If You Want Blood because that live album, warts and all, is still way above this one.

Capn's Final Word: The Bon era was better live, but this is still large gaping cliffs of Dover worth of good fun.

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Adam Trovillion mtlhead@mchsi.com     Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: Yup, AC/DC Live. I've only listened to this album a couple times, but I can honestly say that I don't think they sound as good live as they do in the studio. However, as far as songs go, it's an excellent compilation, and it's a good thing Brian doesn't try to hit too many high notes. Oh, and seriously, I'm a cat person, and how's your cat doing?


Ballbreaker - Atlantic 1994.

I can sorta understand someone really digging this record after Razor's Edge. All those highly polished gleaming hooks from last time are gone, and replaced by a whole bunch of dull-grey non-smileyfaced 'raw' songs that might convince someone that this album actually is a 'return to roots' as they claimed at the time of release. Whatever. Old AC/DC never sounded like this, I mean unless you count Flick of the Switch maybe. I could also see how someone would really not like this album at all. Brian is slowly figuring out what to do with his croaky voice (he sounds better here than on Razor's Edge, no doubt about that) but still each and every song makes me ache to hear that over-abused throat of his screech out whatever it is Brian likes to put in his songs nowadays. I really have to strain to understand the guy, but who cares. He's probably just singing about taxes and golf and whatever else concerns a rich old rock star. Wouldn't it be cool if he would insert some tired cliched references to his penis in every song? Dude, I'd buy that record in a second!

And I can grok on someone ripping the absolute slowness of this record. No, this is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOT Powerage, you hear me? That album had about a thousand times more personality and energy than this record, despite its uniformly medium tempos. Is there an equal to 'Down Payment Blues' on this record, No! And boy oh boy do these riffs sound tired. For the first time, they really sound lost on the riffs. I don't even like 'Hard As A Rock' that much. I mean, that's what we all liked about Razor's Edge, man! The riffs and the hooks. These guys sound like a bunch of bored potheads playing scuzzy ZZ Top ripoffs!

'Hail Caesar' is alright, but only for those 'Hail! Hail!'s...'Burning Alive' is okay and has a nice dark atmosphere. 'Love Bomb'? Yup you've heard that hook before on a Tom Jones song. Sure you have. Don't try to look all coy. I think maybe this one came first, but I'll be goddamned if I go look up a Tom Jones page to confirm that.

But, eh...my opinion? I think the album is seriously half-assed. It's chock full of those by-the-numbers mid-tempo numbers they've been marching out for us ever since they started to slip with For Those About to Rock. I do tend to feel like banging my head a little, and those lyrics aren't any worse than usual. And the production by Rick Rubin is nice and raw and alive sounding....and I could listen to that guitar tone all day. But gosh, they do sound an awful lot like they're getting old and by the time the album comes to a finish I feel sorta old too.

Capn's Final Word: Not as good as we're used to, but gosh, terrible it really isn't. But really flllllaaaaaaattttttt.

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Stiff Upper Lip - Atlantic 2000.
 

Hey now! All that smoke about Ballbreaker being a 'return to roots' is absolutely brushed aside by this monster return to form. Stiffy Upper Lips shows some real signs of life for sure! It's real enjoyable just like Jewel was backstage at the Hampton Coliseum back in 1998! Combine the cool production sound of Ballbreaker with the hooks of The Razors Edge and Brian's voice from Flick of the Switch and the heavy feeling of For Those About To Rock and the sweet sweet cunt juices of a young crooked-toothed Alaskan former VH1 fave pop-folk singer and you have Stiff Upper Lip. A Winner For Sure! No doubts about liking this one, not at all.

I mean, I can really feel the love welling up in my soul for songs like 'Safe In NYC'...bash bash bash! Untimely reminders of horrifyingly evil terrorist acts aside, this song boogies so hard I really forget this isn't one of their earlier records. Was it seriously this difficult to make an album this good from the years 1983-2000? Because they didn't do it. And, man, like 'Can't Stand Still' has such a great intro. Malcolm has been doing variations on the 'For Those About to Rock' intro for 20 years now (and if you learn to play it on the guitar you too will play it every opportunity you can find....but the true hardcores out there will learn to play it on the glockenspiel like a real man) but this one still sounds fresh, and since he continues the thing throughout the whole song as a riff, I'll count it as a new chapter in the AC/DC Big Bad Book of Riffs. Same with the teeth-jarring 'Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll'...sure its a big cliche, but we're big enough and post-ironic enough to still love it, aren't we? I am anyway. I dunno about YOU Mr. Ethan Hawke.

Boy, I don't have any reservations about this album at all other than my old saw about Bon Scott not singing on it. Brian even sounds just like his old self again. Okay, you twisted my arm outta the socket. Not like the old Brian, but he did learn how to use his new voice in a way where 'pain' and 'Baking Soda rinse' aren't the first words to my brain when I hear it. Actually, he sounds masterful on songs like 'Satellite Blues'. Hear that? Masterful!

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Mr. Phil Rudd is back on skins again as of Ballbreaker? But he is, and he's 100,000,000 tims better than that last guy. It was only that on BB you really couldn't tell it was him because all of the songs were sorta dull. And Tim Allen is one of those Tims who's better than the Tim that other guy had on his side. Of course, Rudd still does the same old drum pattern he always did, but it was good enough in 1979, so it's good enough in 2000, see?

Yeah, okay, this one's not all Peaches and Herb, like for the fact that a lot of it is still slow, but a slow song like 'I'll Be Damned' here is simply light years better than most of Ballbreaker which was slow and grumpy like my grandpa's bowel movements. This one's slow and, umm...cranky. But interesting, too. And did I mention that both Phil Rudd and Brian Johnson's voice are back in the band again?

Capn's Final Word: Well, after waiting about 17 years I finally have an AC/DC album to truly love. I suggest you get it and gain that goofy shit eating smile I have on my face for yourself.

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Brad Page [bpage@bedford.ac.uk]

I can't agree more stiff upper lip is a great album, but don't ever knock the lyrics because in their simplicity you can often find the true meaning of life, for example:

I was out on a drive, a bit of a trip

Looking for thrills to get my kicks

Pure Poetry

Rock on

FBL

 


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