Review Summary: A valiant first effort by a very young band, but marred by cheesy lyrics, repetition and excessive adherence to source material
Did you ever notice how, no matter how many clones a particular band spawns, none of them is ever as good as the original? I mean, sure, they all get points for effort, and some of them come pretty damn close to replicating the source band’s sound. But there’s a reason why great bands are great, and it’s that special “something” that always seems to be amiss in clone bands.
Case in point: AC/DC. The Australian five-piece have spawned a gazillion imitators throughout the years, but no-one has ever been able to fully replicate that
sound. Airbourne is only one more name in a long list of bands that aim to recapture the bottled lightning of vintage Young & Young, only to fall short of their objective in the end.
Still, I have to admit: these guys do
have one advantage over the likes of Nashville Pussy, New American Shame or Rhino Bucket: they are actually from
Australia, and thus frequented most of the same haunts where a young Angus and Malcolm made a name for themselves thirty years previously. The “Australia factor” has also led the ever-eager press to start busting out the “new AC/DC” tags, but they really need to take it slow with the career-defining comparisons. On Ready to Rock
, Airbourne indeed come as close as it gets to a new AC/DC …but they’re still not AC/DC.
The most immediately discernible difference between the two bands are the vocals. As we know, Bom Scott crooned and Brian Johnson yelps like the best of ‘em; Joel O’Keeffe, on the other hand, has a raspy, gruff, rather limited delivery more reminiscent of “Angry” Anderson from Rose Tattoo. He and David Roads, however, seem to have as a sole purpose to emulate Angus’ style to the maximum possible extent: every lick, riff and solo on this album reeks of the diminutive faux-schoolboy. One of the songs even ends with a nod to the legendary Thunderstruck
riff, while Stand and Deliver
’s could-be-improvised bluesfest of an outro sounds exactly like something Angus would have been playing during the TNT
period. The rhythm section composed of the other O’Keeffe brother, Ryan, and bassist Adam Jacobson (later replaced by Justin Street) also sound quite influenced by Rudd and Evans/Williams, delivering basic but solid rhythms similar to those found on AC/DC records.
Still, the major difference here is in the songs themselves. I know Airbourne were very very young when they released this, but…well, the songs are just not very good. Basically, they all have very similar rhythms (think the faster AC/DC shuffle, a la Let There Be Rock
), and while they definitely have some good ideas, they are let down by the extremely basic and uninspired choruses. A typical chorus from Ready to Rock
can be imagined thusly: read the song title. Imagine it repeated four times over a fast rock’n’roll beat. Imagine that done around six times in every song. Voila! You just pictured a song from this album in your head. Seriously, all the songs follow the exact same formula established by the eponymous opener, and every single chorus
on this album is just the title of the song repeated four times. This really helps drag down otherwise decent songs, contributing to the lack of standouts on this album. On the longer songs in particular, such as Come On Down
or Dirty Angel
, the sheer repetitiousness quickly becomes a chore.
And then there are the lyrics. They either follow the “we’re gonna get drunk and RAWK!!” formula or the “lemme tell ya about this girl I had last night, she was filthy
, maaaan” formula; sometimes both. That would be perfectly all right, considering the style, if not for verses like ”all you gotta do/is stand up and shout/the following line/come on down”
or ”this is no game, no bull***, this is for real/we’re gonna rock, we’re gonna roll, until you squeal”
(both from Come On Down
). As it is, the sometimes cringe-worthy lyrics further drag down what started out as a decent, even exciting album.
Still, it would be mean to hold this against Airbourne. As very young rock’n’roll enthusiasts, the group have put out an above-average effort that has as much good (Ready to Rock, When The Girl Gets Hot (The Love Don’t Stop)
, parts of Runnin’Hot
) as it has bad (Come On Down, Dirty Angel
), but is generally listenable and entertaining. Mislabeled as an EP, since it contains eight songs and a solid 35 minutes (and 35 seconds!) of music, this is a good bet if you’re into hard rock. However, you must be able to overlook the numerous flaws that plague this debut; as long as you do, you’ll have fun. The problem is if you don’t, you will be force to concede that, at their age, AC/DC were making music ten times better than Airbourne do here. They’re better at the fast tempos than AC/DC ever were, but the fact of the matter is, listening to this album had me constantly thinking, and craving for a dose of,Highway to Hell
. Sorry guys – nice try, but no cigar.
Ready to Rock
When The Girl Gets Hot (The Love Don’t Stop)