Getting Into: AC/DC


Written by: Bad English
Published: 19.03.2016


Let me tell you a story 'bout woman I know. No - let me tell you a story about a man. A young lad who joins the Navy in anger. He punches his commanding officer. Does two years in jail, gets released and walks down the central street, has some beers, then a bikie gang (yep, original Aussie slang retained) arrives. He starts to fight; he is a problem child, a simple man, who likes booze, women (if he can get them), and rock'n'roll. He forms a band, a simple band with simple street lyrics; and those other kids, even though they never finished school, became riff masters (even if they play only one rock'n'roll riff). The legend of AC/DC was born.

High Voltage (Australia) (1975) - As the band's very first album, it is weak and poorly-produced - at least by today's standards. It is hard to judge it from today's point of view, but it worked well in that time, even if I believe that the band would have been a goner had they debuted any later. This album came out at the right time in the right place; yes, it may be historical, but I don't think that that warrants a high ranking for what is otherwise a sub-par album.
Standout songs: "Baby Please Don't Go"

SSUS: Describing AC/DC as "minimalist" might be an egregious tautology, but High Voltage does sound a lot more restrained and stripped-down than future releases. The album feels much closer to the streets than the stage, offering a rawness that forgives some of the youthful stumbles, but overall the energy and songwriting lack the same quality that AC/DC would soon achieve.

T.N.T. (1975) - This album is full of classic riffs, but what makes me think that AC/DC are a great band is the drumming. The drumming somehow sounds awesome - it just fits perfectly into this band's style, together with the riffs and Bon's voice. It has a message to it, a simple street language for the people. "The Jack," if you're not a gambler, perhaps you won't understand; maybe Lemmy knows and won some cash off Bon in the afterlife?
Standout songs: "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock'n'Roll)," "Rock 'N Roll Singer," "T.N.T."

SSUS: Nearly every song on this album is an AC/DC classic, and the fortuitous compilation of hits makes T.N.T. much stronger than their debut. In addition, "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock'n'Roll)" quite possibly boasts the first bagpipe solo in a rock song this side of Horslips.

High Voltage (1976) - basically the same as T.N.T.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Australia) (1976) is a classic rock'n'roll piece, with a weird name and some great tunes that for a long time gave us metalheads a bad reputation as problem children. Maybe we are today as well? This album is nothing new; it's not 78-string bass guitar and the extreme complexity that many prog bands try to achieve, fail at, and then wonder why people say they sound like boring pop. Here, you've got a perfect example of well-executed music: compare the riffs, tunes, lyrics, attitude. If you're born in Glasgow, can't face the fight, don't walk the streets, and go to the pub (or "boozer," as the Aussies say) - all of this is put into music and lyrics.
Standout songs: "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," "Problem Child," "Jailbreak"

SSUS: Better-produced, more focused, and heavier still, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was the first truly great AC/DC album. The Australian version lacks the fabulous "Rocker" and may be somewhat weaker than its international counterpart, but either way, AC/DC began to pick up speed here.

Let There Be Rock (Australia) (1977) - The title says it all: there is rock (well, rock'n'roll). Maybe that was the key factor in its success? This band plays from the heart; what comes out, comes out. Somehow they put speed into it - speed rock'n'roll? Well, it's a bit faster, but still with the band's sound and trademarks. ''Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be'' was at that time a provocation, was it not? But in the end, it's only rock'n'roll, and I like it.
Standout songs: "Let There Be Rock," "Problem Child," "Whole Lotta Rosie"

SSUS: Fortunately, this was the last AC/DC album to see two separate releases, one for Australia and one for the rest of the world (and also the last one to feature "Problem Child"). Let There Be Rock continues where its predecessor left off.

Powerage (1978) - A failure, but I will say this: '70s failure was not the same as '00s failure, when we simply delete the album from our files; back then, you bought a vinyl and played it to understand it. Musically they pull it off through the energy of young men, their own special touch, but it sounded like, "we don't want to do this, but we have to anyway." The riffs were riffs as always, and all had the AC/DC signature, but it was still a failure.
Standout songs: "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation," "Riff Raff"

SSUS: Powerage slips back from Let There Be Rock in terms of both aggression and songwriting. It's not all that bad, especially "Down Payment Blues," but it's wedged in between two classics.

Highway To Hell (1979) - The Antichrist, the devil's child, gave the people a vacuum cleaner and stole their souls with it, all the while screaming AC/DC. That's what it means, right? No, wrong - it's just rock'n'roll, with a big message that people misunderstood as they do with lots of things. Musically, it's a super album; somehow they put all the riffs and lyrics together perfectly - this is Bon's best lyrical work. In terms of the music, Highway To Hell is the same old AC/DC, but I say it's the best - this album can be "best" because all of the songs just work. This makes me think: why are so many prog or power metal bands such failures that can't put a good album together, while this simplicity works eternally? It works; this is an essential album. Maybe it's St. Ann's finger? She gave those guys riff skills when they bought a vacuum cleaner.
Standout songs: All

He is not a high-class woman, with style, perfume, and a nice dress; he is a man who knows more about ale than a clean house. He has simple blue jeans and a black, sleeveless shirt, and the only sexy thing he has is his Geordie accent.

SSUS: With a band like AC/DC that never evolves or changes its style, explaining why some albums are better than others can be a challenge. On Highway To Hell, for whatever reason, everything came together magnificently. It's a classic album only superseded by its successor.

Back In Black (1980) - Many questions were asked about how the fans would accept a new singer - but, well, music speaks louder than words. Speaking of words, Brian Johnson brought some "intellect" to the band. I don't accuse bands of being idiots (unless it's some kind of a hip-hop gangabanga), but Johnson's lyrics here were more intellectual than those of AC/DC's past. Musically, Back In Black is the band's trademark album (of course it is), thought the music also was a bit more complex than before; I say that this is the best AC/DC album ever made - the best with Brian, the best overall - even though Highway To Hell was close. This is an essential album, and a rare one on which all the songs stand out.
Standout songs: All

SSUS: Statistically speaking, every person who is currently reading or will ever read this article already owns three copies of Back In Black. "Music speaks louder than words" indeed.

For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) (1981) - I never liked the song and album title For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). When you don't know English so well, as in your school days, such titles don't make any sense. Musically, this album isn't as good as it was supposed to be, especially after Back In Black. Listening to this album, I thought that the band needed to change, and for all the 1980s the band wasn't the same as they had been before. It seems they became more American, in a little way (or they just "Touch [the guitar strings] Too Much").
Standout songs: "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)"

SSUS: The title may be a bit goofy, and my high school Latin teachers were always skeptical of its pretensions, but "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" makes for a fantastic song, if not an entirely successful album. AC/DC certainly got slicker and poppier, winding up trapped somewhere between late Slade and middling Def Leppard. It's no Back In Black, but it's a fine album nonetheless.

Flick Of The Switch (1983) - Imagine a married couple. The man lives the same life, eats the same food, has the same wife all the time, watches the same TV channel all the time, wakes up at the same time, goes to sleep at the same time, but the wife is happy, they both are happy, so what's wrong with that? They are happy, and they like it, and their neighbours, friends, and work colleagues envy them. The only thing they did was buy a vacuum cleaner in 1979, and then change the engine because it died (it drank too much).
Standout songs: "House On Fire," "Flick Of The Switch," "Nervous Shakedown" (mostly because of its chorus, maybe the best one this band has done), "Bedlam In Belgium"

Fly On The Wall (1985) - "Hey, mommy?"
"Yes, Angus and Malcolm?"
"We gonna be musicians!"
"Great! Where?"
"IN A GUITAR BAND!"
I think that this band should watch a bit of the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup. Imagine those events every year or every other year; they wouldn't be as good as they are now every fourth year. Same with this band - more of them is good but also not good. Too much is TOO MUCH. Good thing they took a four-to-five-year break in the '90s!
Standout songs: "Fly On The Wall," "Shake Your Foundation"

Who Made Who (1986) - I don't get this one; it seems like a bunch of previously-recorded songs, but for what purpose?

SSUS: (It seems that this album was released as the soundtrack to the 1986 Stephen King movie Maximum Overdrive; it consists of three newly-recorded songs, including the title track, and other songs pulled from recent albums. I've always wondered at its purpose myself, as well as the poor grammar in the title.)

Blow Up Your Video (1988) - First, I thought, it's simply an MTV video album (my generation knows what MTV music videos were). Then I thought this: it's like Election Day; they give us promises like the first song. It's awesome, like all the pre-election talks. Then it's the same, old boredom, broken promises, disappointment. In the middle of the album the band comes up with something promising, like the middle of the election period. The last song is an awesome mix between country and rock'n'roll from Elvis's days; you know in the last months of Parliament they need to come up with something for people to remember them by, because soon there will be new elections (albums) and they'll want us to vote again for the same people (and buy their albums).
Standout songs: "Heatseeker," "That's The Way I Wanna Rock 'n' Roll," "This Means War"

The Razor's Edge (1990) - This is perhaps the band's best album after Back In Black; the opening song and its intro are essential. It's the kind of intro you really remember, and the video is awesome, too. This is a heavier album than their previous ones, and I like it better than AC/DC's other '80s albums. Brian also worked on his lyrics, and I think he became a better lyricist; okay, "sweet apple pie/standing in the street" doesn't make any sense, but it worked out. To be honest, I can't tell what the band did differently, but this sounds better. I think that, after Back In Black, all three '90s albums are great. (yes, I consider Stiff Upper Lip a '90s album). This album worked out, but why, I don't know.
Standout songs: "Thunderstruck," "Fire Your Guns," "Moneytalks," "Are You Ready"

Big Gun (Single) (1993) - Usually singles are a waste of time in such articles, but this was my first AC/DC song. It doesn't appear on any album, but was released on the soundtrack to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero. The video itself is funny, if you have seen film, and the song is catchy and heavy with good, classic guitar riffs, and Brian's vocals sound awesome. Heavy song.

SSUS: Yes.

Ballbreaker (1995) - Hail Hail Hail Hail, to Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, for giving us alternating current and direct current; sorry, Caesar, you were born way too early to have electrical fun using vacuum cleaners. Nothing to say about this album that we don't already know; typical guitar riffs, typical band riffs, typical AC/DC, guys who got stuck somewhere in the past don't grow up, people; you will be like Dream Theater and other progressive bands, this is a guitar band, built on guitar riffs - but, well, sometimes silence is better. Don't get me wrong - it's not bad, just the same, but better than the '80s, at least. I don't drink whiskey on the rocks, and I don't think that that song stands out; as a child I did like it a lot, dreaming about growing up and having whiskey. "Boogie Man" is interesting, but I don't want to put it in the category of standouts.
Standout songs: "Hard As A Rock," "Cover You In Oil," "Burnin' Alive," "Hail Caesar"

Stiff Upper Lip (2000) - Besides Arnie (same actor who introduced me to Guns N' Roses) and the music video about big guns on MTV back in the '90s, this was my first AC/DC album, back when I didn't even know who Bon was. I knew the name AC/DC and it was cool, so my friend bought a tape and we listened to it. We had some beers and some teenage talks, and he told me, "this sucks, you can have it," and took my Van Halen CD in exchange (thanks for that, because Van Halen sucked after their fourth album, and even those first four are super overrated thanks to the media). I did not like this album at first, but I played it five times, ten times, many more times until I could "get" it, and I finally did. After so many albums, we can say it has the same riffs, and the band has been in the business for so long that they know how to pull them off, but it's a good rock album. Its real value is due to the fact that I didn't have the internet back in those days, so it was an important step for me. It's a 50-50 album; 50% of the songs are awesome, 50% are good. The one bad thing is that song #2 is a meltdown. It's weak, and then you think that the album will suck; in my opinion, a song like that should be the last song or in the middle, because it can potentially ruin people's impression. But we metalheads listen to albums from the first to the last song.
Standout songs: "Stiff Upper Lip," "House Of Jazz," "Can't Stand Still," "Safe In New York City," "Can't Stop Rock N' Roll," "Satellite Blues," "Come And Get It " (mainly because Angus sings the chorus [at least, I think it's Angus])

Black Ice (2008) - Another album after eight years of waiting; it seems that the band was sleeping too long, and that the media promotion of this album worked better for it than the music itself did. This was the band's first album in the internet era, and all the discussion of it was online; the days of TV and magazines were over, but we all forgot about the music, too. It's like how we talk about a big sports game; we analyze it, we bet on it, but we don't actually watch it, we just watch the goals on the sports news on the telly. Now that we know how life has progressed, we see that this album was the last with Malcolm Young as a full member and composer. The Youngs founded this band as schoolboys (sometimes I think they didn't grow up after leaving school at age 16), so it makes this album a special one, and that is why we have to give it a shot even if musically it's not one of their best ones.
Standout songs: "Rock 'N Roll Train"

SSUS: Black Ice is the most modern-sounding AC/DC album (even more so than Rock Or Bust), but obviously nothing else changed. At 15 tracks and nearly an hour in length, the album does overstay its welcome (the material must have piled up over eight years), though a few songs do make Black Ice worth having.

Rock Or Bust (2014) - If you like to play ball, and if you can play it 30 times in a row, then you can play this album. It's better than the previous one, and it seems that "Dogs Of War" is the most metal song the band has ever written. With this album came some problems for the band, with Stevie Young replacing the legend Malcolm, and drummer Phil Rudd screwing up with his assassination plans and court cases. With all those problems, it's a good thing that this album was pulled out before everything started; it could very well be the last album for AC/DC. I don't think the band will be able to pull off one more, and even if they do, it won't be the same. Riffs, singing, attitude - everything that's good about this band they put into music. Replacing the singer worked fine the first time, and they can now do the same with the guitarist, but do they need a new album? They have a lot of good ones to choose from. They're an essential band that will never die and never grow old (maybe refusing to grow old is the key?); there will always be an AC/DC and there will always be fans. You can't stop rock'n'roll, and rock'n'roll is what this band is all about.
Standout songs: "Rock Or Bust," "Play Ball," "Dogs Of War"

Other things I recommend are the live album/DVD Live At River Plate and Family Jewels; they're basically the best that the band can offer you. Let There Be Rock!

Thanks to ScreamingSteelUS for help and proofreading!



 


Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments

Comments: 12   Visited by: 109 users
19.03.2016 - 22:17
Bad English
Masterchief
Enjoy and thanks to SSUS for helping out
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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19.03.2016 - 22:20
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Bad English on 19.03.2016 at 22:17

Enjoy and thanks to SSUS for helping out

My pleasure.
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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19.03.2016 - 23:30
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
I thought the first paragraph was about deadone
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2016

2017
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19.03.2016 - 23:40
Bad English
Masterchief
Written by Karlabos on 19.03.2016 at 23:30

I thought the first paragraph was about deadone


Deady was SAS Australia Regiment wannaby, he failed in 60kg bag walking test
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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20.03.2016 - 08:57
no one
Account deleted
I think i remember Deadone saying he was 245kg! i don't think he could even carry a plastic bag.
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20.03.2016 - 13:21
Big-Al
Who Made Who was a tie in to the movie Maximum overdrive:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_Overdrive
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I drink moosepiss
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23.03.2016 - 11:24
bblitz
''(even if they play only one rock'n'roll riff)''
I don't undersstand this,you could just say they are riff masters and leave this one out..
MetalStorm staff has strange ways for describing bands they don't like or aren't 'prominent'
on the site...
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23.03.2016 - 12:20
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by bblitz on 23.03.2016 at 11:24

''(even if they play only one rock'n'roll riff)''
I don't undersstand this,you could just say they are riff masters and leave this one out..
MetalStorm staff has strange ways for describing bands they don't like or aren't 'prominent'
on the site...


Bad English/k7 is NOT staff.
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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23.03.2016 - 18:18
Bad English
Masterchief
I am not a staff, and everyone are free write articles here on MS; (even I can have some help and speed up some time ) , every body can do
Staffers will proofread . DT did take out few parts of my ints so

I mean even Maiden knows more riffs how play guitar, Ac/Dc knows few , all sounds same
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
24.03.2016 - 20:32
Bad English
Masterchief
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
25.03.2016 - 12:45
musclassia
"Describing AC/DC as "minimalist" might be an egregious tautology, but High Voltage does sound a lot more restrained and stripped-down than future releases"

I read this sentence in a Bad English article and almost passed out, before realising this was SSUS's contribution
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28.03.2016 - 18:51
Bad English
Masterchief
As Marcel suggested

----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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