Review Summary: Not a horrible album by any means - this is no Blow Up Your Video - but by the end it leaves you feeling kind of...blank.
Reviewing AC/DC is always a pleasure for me, them being my favorite band and all that. Nevertheless, as rabid a fanboy as I am, even I have to admit not everything the Australian five-piece put out is all that brilliant.
is a perfect example. Now, make no mistake: this is a Bon Scott-era record, and as such, infinitely better than anything AC/DC put out in the 80’s (Flick Of The Switch
aside). Still, for a band that only one year after this would put out the colossal Highway To Hell
, this album feels a little…well, generic.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be had here, especially for someone who is already an AC/DC fan. If you’re not, though, don’t choose this album as your point of entry. ( I recommend Highway To Hell
The main high point here is Bon. He is calling the shots throughout the album, with strong, confident vocal performances and typically good lyrics (a chapter where Bon clearly surpassed Brian Johnson). Examples of this are opener Rock’n’Roll Damnation
, second track Down Payment Blues
and some faster track or another (Kicked in The Teeth
, where he absolutely rips). However, whichever track you pick, you will get a smooth, laid-back, totally at ease performance, proof positive of how good a singer Bon really was. He might not have the best range, but he has emotion, sincerity and passion, and he can adapt his tone to fit what he is singing – ripping on the faster tracks, lamentative on the blues, streetwise on the rocking songs. Overall he may be the star of this album.
As far as the rhythm section, Williams and Rudd are as steady as ever. They still don’t play anything overcomplicated (particularly Rudd, who seems stuck with playing ‘toom-bap-toom-toom-bap’ rhythms), but it sure is nice to see Williams playing something a bit more complex on Gone Shootin’
. Together, they provide one of the most solid rhythm sections in rock’n’roll. Their grooves are the basis of the songs, and contribute to make them pleasing listening experiences. So no problems here either.
What you might have noticed is that I’m leaving the guitars for last. Kinda strange in an AC/DC review, right? Well…no. Not really. You see, the guitars don’t really play anything special, much to the dismay of the present reviewer, a fervent admirer of Angus Young. Sure, the riffs are tight. Sure, they’re edgy and crunchy. Sure, the solos are cool. But there’s nothing here that makes you go crazy; nothing that makes you throw your fist in the air and start tapping your foot and playing air-guitar, like on other AC/DC albums (It’s A Long Way To The Top
, anyone?). There are simply no stand-out riffs on this album, with a few notorious exceptions (Rock’n’Roll Damnation
and Gone Shootin’
, particularly the snaking riff in the latter’s chorus). As for solos…well, apart from Riff Raff
– an otherwise mediocre track and more of an excuse for Angus to let loose – there isn’t really anything noteworthy in this department.
Worse, the songs themselves don’t flow. Sure, the two tracks mentioned earlier are great, and would find a slot in any AC/DC best-of compilation (particularly Gone Shootin’
), but other than those, it’s nothing but same-old, same-old mid-tempos, the occasional blues number and no less than three fast tracks. Now, if there’s one thing AC/DC are NOT good at, it’s fast-paced tracks (Rosie
aside). So why are there three on this album? Kicked in The Teeth
is alright (great chorus), but Riff Raff
and What’s Next To The Moon
are the definition of filler. Fortunately, there are only nine tracks here, which means this album ends quickly. However – and this may be the worst part of all – it leaves no impression on the listener, other than that of utter mediocrity. All the others AC/DC albums leave me filled satisfied, fulfilled or at least satisfied. By the end of Powerage
I feel nothing. And that’s bad. Very, very bad.
- Bon Scott
- Gone Shootin’
- It’s AC/DC~
- It’s very uninspired AC/DC, with lots of filler and a strangely subdued Angus Young