Blow Up Video: AC/DC

Rating: 80%

blowupvideo.jpg1988 and AC/DC needed a strong album to make a major comeback. This was considering that “Fly On The Wall” was a U.S. commercial success. This album also marked the last album that Brian Johnson would contribute lyrics to.

Vocally speaking, Brian Johnson is riding the wave one more time. He still sounds good, but he has completely blown his pipes. Age has finally caught up with him. I call this the beginning Donald Duck years. But his vocals are much better on this album than the previous “Fly On The Wall.”

Musically, the rest of the band sounds OK. This album is the final product of the “Who Made Who” era, moving away from the style of “Fly On The Wall.” In other words, AC/DC is trying to reinvent themselves and it takes awhile to do that. This is where AC/DC was headed musically, which leads into the “Razors Edge” era which would come in 1990.

The main two flaws I hear are noise and filler within the music. Some of the song structures do repeat themselves over and over. “Two’s UP” basically sounds like leftovers from the “For Those About To Rock” record. I love the song, but there’s nothing new to it. The entire album sounds very weak, unfocused with lot’s of background noise. Now not all is lost. This album does contain some very good parts musically. The opening and verse guitar parts to “This Means War” is very up beat. Many of the songs, do have a nice melody driving it, but it does get a bit dull too. 

The music is riff heavy with shortened leads and solos. The guitar work is a bit weak. Even drummer Simon Wright isn’t sounding to hot. It’s almost as if the material was put together very quickly, the night before the recording. Cliff Williams on bass seems to be the only guy who has sort of broken away from the standard. He is laying down some bass lines that are not following along the guitars.  

Track listing:

1. “Heatseeker” 3:50
2. “That’s the Way I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll” 3:45
3. “Meanstreak” 4:08
4. “Go Zone” 4:26
5. “Kissin’ Dynamite” 3:58
6. “Nick of Time” 4:16
7. “Some Sin for Nuthin'” 4:11
8. “Ruff Stuff” 4:28
9. “Two’s Up” 5:19
10. “This Means War” 4:21

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’74 Jailbreak: AC/DC

Rating: 100%

Ac-dc-74-jailbreak-coverAlthough, released in America in 1984, this EP contains some of the early AC/DC songs that weren’t released on the High Voltage and Dirty Deeds albums. Which is a shame because, these songs are awesome. Some of the best early AC/DC songs in my opinion. Well, I’m just glad that they were eventually released in American.

I’m not going to go over the musicians, simply because of the fact that there were numerous ones. Three different drummers and two different bassists. But, listening to the songs, one would never pick up on the fact that the line ups were totally different from song to song.

What makes this EP so special? It’s a powerhouse of raw sound, great riffs, and yes, whiskey soaked high pitched vocals of Bon Scott. Every song on here is a good song. Lot’s of Blues and Rock N’ Roll influence. It contains those killer riffs, melodies, and those signature Angus Young leads and solos. It’s a wonder that these songs were released on the American media sooner than AC/DC’s 10 year birthday. Lyrically, these to me are some of the best written songs of early AC/DC.

Track listing:
1. “Jailbreak” 4:40
2. “You Ain’t Got a Hold on Me” 3:31
3. “Show Business” 4:46
4. “Soul Stripper” 6:25
5. “Baby, Please Don’t Go” 4:50

Who Made Who: AC/DC

Rating: 75%

Whomadewho.jpgSo, AC/DC did the 1986 soundtrack to the movie “Maximum Overdrive.” There’s only a few new songs here and two of them are instrumentals. Something that I thought I would never hear from AC/DC, but, this is a soundtrack album. This sound track produced another popular AC/DC song called “Who Made Who.” Other than that, nothing else to report here. Everything else, has been around plenty for a while. I think the song collection could have been a bit more exciting.

Track listing:

Who Made Who 3:23
You Shook Me All Night Long 3:29
D.T. 2:59
Sink The Pink 4:12
Ride On 5:47
Hells Bells 5:10
Shake Your Foundations 4:08
Chase The Ace 3:00
For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) 5:44

For Those About To Rock: AC/DC

Rating: 80%

ForThoseAboutToRock_ACDCalbum.jpgReleased in 1981, as the follow up to the “Back In Black” album, AC/DC has created something of a international anthem. But then, as you listen to the rest of the album, it becomes more or less a hit or miss album.

The musicianship is lacking here. It’s like the morning after when you are suffering from a major hangover, and you don’t feel like doing anything. Brian Johnson’s vocals are a bit weak, but still impressive. After this album, Brian’s vocals really start going downhill as AC/DC matures. His vocals are still strong with some rasp as he hits those mid to higher level notes with in the soprano range. The guitars are seem to be coping and pasting the same styles throughout many of the songs. I can’t hardly hear Cliff Williams on bass. Phil Rudd to me is the only one that is saving this record. 

The music is lacking the raw power and intensity of explosive melodies. The music tempo is very slow, compared to the previous AC/DC albums.  It’s almost to the point, that I find myself wanting to push the skip button to fast forward to another song. Lot’s of filler on this album. The overall sound is heavier than prior albums, but there’s no drive to half of the album.  

But not all is lost on this album. Take the opening track, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).” This is over five minutes worth of pure Hard Rock. It has a powerful guitar riff. This song has become one of the best international anthems of all time. “Inject the Venom” is another good song on this album that stands out. “Evil Walks”, “C.O.D.”, “Night of the Long Knives”, and “Spellbound” are also good songs with decent riffs, but they too lack that power driven guitar that AC/DC is always known for.

Track listing:

1. “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” 5:43
2. “Put the Finger on You” 3:25
3. “Let’s Get It Up” 3:53
4. “Inject the Venom” 3:31
5. “Snowballed” 3:23
6. “Evil Walks” 4:23
7. “C.O.D.” 3:19
8. “Breaking the Rules” 4:23
9. “Night of the Long Knives” 3:25
10. “Spellbound” 4:28

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: AC/DC

Rating: 100%

ddddc.jpgIn 1976, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheep was released to the world, except for the U.S. which would have to wait until 1981. This album is excellent! It’s got the right dosage of Rock N’ Roll, Blues, and yes, Country music all blended into one bold sound. Angus Young is really tipping his hat to Chuck Berry.

The musicianship is super tight. I love the quirkiness of Bon Scott’s whiskey soaked vocals. Behind the power switch is Angus and Malcolm Young on the guitars. Angus really knows how to through out the best solos. Then bringing up the rear and yet, establishing the fuel for the power is bassist Mark Evans and drummer Phil Rudd.

This is a great album lyrically because of the humor in the songs. Take “Big Balls” for example. It’s full of tongue in cheek humor making one think is he talking about those parties or what’s between his legs. Simple, yet funny! Just look over the song titles. There’s a lot of great riffs and leads. The rhythm and melodies are raw and yet, explosive when you give this album a listen to. This is an example of what a Rock band should sound like. 

Track listing:

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 3:46
Love At First Feel 3:05
Big Balls 2:39
Rocker 2:46
Problem Child 5:43
There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’ 3:14
Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire) 6:51
Ride On 5:47
Squealer 5:12

If You Want Blood: AC/DC

Rating: 90%

Acdc_If_You_Want_Blood_You've_Got_It.JPGRecorded in 1978 during the world tour of “Powerage”, AC/DC released this live album. I manged to pick this gem up on vinyl over at Hanover for under $6.00 near mint.  This record has a lot of power and energy behind it. The raw sound of AC/DC during this concert can be summed up as “sheer raw power.” The entire band sounds great. This live album showcases the best that the band is and greatest was yet to come.

Bon Scott’s whiskey soaked vocals are at his greatest. Musically, the songs are well balanced and engaging. Angus Young on lead guitar is an entertainer. His style of power is just mind blowing. His leads are on top of the world. Malcolm Young on guitar is just as good as his brother, pumping out the grooves. Cliff Williams on bass and drummer Phil Rudd are the backbone of this band on stage.

After listening to this on vinyl, it was like hearing the concert as it was meant to be heard. The sound of the concert is clear with very little background noise. If you’re into early AC/DC, then go out and find this record. It’s awesome!

Track listing:

1. “Riff Raff” 5:59
2. “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” 4:10
3. “Bad Boy Boogie” 7:29
4. “The Jack” 5:48
5. “Problem Child” 4:40
Side two
6. “Whole Lotta Rosie”  4:05
7. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation” 3:41
8. “High Voltage” 5:05
9. “Let There Be Rock” 8:33
10. “Rocker” 3:24

Let There Be Rock, Live In Paris: AC/DC

Rating: 95%

Ac_dc_let_there_be_rock_the_movie.jpg“Let There Be Rock” was a motion picture released in 1980 by AC/DC. It was later released with the “Bonfire” box set as CD discs Two and Three that was first released in 1997 and remastered in 2003. This live performance was part of the tour that supported the 1979 release of “Highway to Hell.” It featured lead vocalist Bon Scott, lead guitarist Angus Young, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd.

I have always enjoyed watching this movie when I first picked it up in 1989. I loved watching Angus Young running back and forth on stage, while kicking his feet and headbanging not missing a single note on his Gibson SG guitar. I still laugh during the song “Rocker” when you see Angus Young heading backstage and hitting up some oxygen before being taken out into the crowd. Or during “Bad Boy Boogie” when he performs a strip tease.

Musically, for the video, they flowed nicely. I didn’t care for the interviews, although some of the content was funny to watch. But when the “Bonfire” box set came out, I excited about the chance of getting the actual CDs rather than relying on the video cassette and the VCR to hear the performance. The music sounded much better through my stereo rather than a TV.

Musicianship is very good and tight sounding. The backbone of the band’s sound is the rhythm guitar, bass and the drums. Out in front of the band is the lead guitar and the vocals. A pretty simple concept. Everyone sounds great, but I do notice that Angus’s guitar does drown out parts of his brother’s guitar which is heard faintly in the background. The sound quality for the time is not bad. I do like the raw electric power that the band generates on stage. That to me is what AC/DC is all about.

Performance wise, AC/DC is a hard hitting, high energy, and heavy sounding. The music itself, is gritty, raw, perhaps muddy in spots, but loud. This is a crank it up performance. One thing that the viewer and the listener will come to realize, is the fact that Angus Young steals the show. He is a damn good guitarist. There’s lots of improvising on many songs with regards to the music during the solos.

Bon Scott sounds absolutely great. He is another one that helps to steal the show. He seems very happy and is always smiling on stage and off stage. You can tell he really enjoyed being part of one of the greatest rock n’ roll bands of all time. It’s a shame that he was that brilliant and he died shortly after this performance.

The strength supporting Bon and Angus is the main part of the band. Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd. These three band members are the ones who set the pace for the music on stage and in the studio. Malcolm Young’s guitar may not be heard closer to the front, but it is there. His style and sound is very good. Then you have Cliff Williams who keeps time on the bass more along the lines of the DC-_Let_There_Be_Rock_VideoCover.jpgMalcolm’s rhythm. His bass is heard clear as day through every song on the stage. Then you have the talented Phil Rudd keeping the tempos moving. I don’t think this guy gets enough credit and is an overshadowed musician.

Bottom line, this is an important piece of AC/DC history. It’s the only live performance aside from “If You Want Blood, You Got It” that documents the band in concert, that has Bon Scott on vocals. I will take this live performance and it’s flaws over the 1990’s AC/DC live recordings and movies that has Brian Johnson on vocals.

Movie Music Tracks:

“Live Wire” – 5:23
“Shot Down In Flames” – 3:18
“Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” – 3:54
“Sin City” – 3:52
“Walk All Over You” – 2:30
“Bad Boy Boogie” – 11:08
“The Jack” – 5:21
“Highway To Hell” – 3:10
“Girls Got Rhythm” – 3:09
“High Voltage” – 5:27
“Whole Lotta Rosie” – 4:41
“Rocker” – 8:57
“Let There be Rock” – 7:17

Bonfire Let There Be Rock, the Movir Soundtrack:

Bonfire_ACDCboxset.jpgDisc 1
1. “Live Wire”  8:04
2. “Shot Down in Flames” 3:39
3. “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be”  4:31
4. “Sin City” 5:25
5. “Walk All Over You” 5:07
6. “Bad Boy Boogie”  13:21

Disc 2
1. “The Jack”  6:05
2. “Highway to Hell” 3:31
3. “Girls Got Rhythm” 3:20
4. “High Voltage” 6:32
5. “Whole Lotta Rosie”  4:55
6. “Rocker”  10:45
7. “T.N.T.” 4:14
8. “Let There Be Rock” 7:34