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Thursday, 4 December 2014


There was a time when you wouldn't hear a peep out of AC/DC from one album campaign to the next.  But in 2014 that all changed.  First were the rumours, and eventual confirmation, that Malcolm Young had been diagnosed with dementia.  When all the talk of a split were put to bed, drummer Phil Rudd found himself inhabiting the New Zealand courts, charged with attempting to procure the murder of two men, and possession of drugs.

But amidst all this, probably the majority of the planet were awaiting the release of the bands 16th album, Rock or Bust.  The follow up to the massively successful Black Ice.  With Stevie Young filling in for his uncle Malcolm, he gets the honour to strike the album's first chords.  As openers go, no one, and I mean no one does them better than AC/DC.

Beauts like Go Down, Rock n' Roll Damnation, Hells Bells and Heatseeker to name a few have all given our eardrums a sweet smack.  And this albums opener, title track, Rock or Bust, is no different.  Lyrically it's cringe worthy, but the rousing chorus, and a typical hard edged riff are vintage AC/DC.  That vibe continues on Play Ball, Brian Johnson's 67 year old pipes are still as powerful as his 1928 Bentley, and Angus Young tickling the frets of his Gibson SG with a clanking riff.

As with most of the albums in the Johnson era, they tend to lose their mojo along the way. Rock the Blues Away sounds like an Anything Goes afterthought, and Miss Adventure gives you the impression producer, Brendan O'Brien, was absent that day.  The song may be a bit of a mess, but the lyrics are reassuringly filthy.                                                                                                                                      
One of the highlights of the album, Dogs of War, struts along with incomparable ease, this gem has live favourite written all over it.  The same can be said for Got Some Rock n' Roll Thunder, though not as dynamic as the previous track, with the chorus lacking a bit of melody, it's still a big balls rocker.  The infectious blues stomp of Hard Times, will have you drumming your steering wheel instantly. Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams once again showing that they are the stitching that holds AC/DC's music together.                                                                                                                                                                

The band roll back the years on Baptism By Fire, the only track on the album where I could visualise Bon Scott singing.  It's relentless driving rhythm and Johno's nasty delivery would stand up against anything on Powerage or Highway to Hell.  The saying, good things come in small packages, more than applies on Rock the House.  Clocking in at 2 minutes & 42 seconds,  it's the shortest track on the album, but this riff loaded belter stands tall throughout.

The cheeky Sweet Candy, won't win any awards for lyrical content.  In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the lyrics were written by a pubescent schoolboy.  Nevertheless, these guys are the grandmasters of the innuendo, and this little rocker is glorious smut from start to finish. Unfortunately the album ends with a bit of a damp squib, Emission Control.  The song has early promise with Angus at his strutting best, but the chorus falls flat on it's face.

But this album has more highs than lows, at this stage in their career, AC/DC know their limitations.  Long gone are the days when they can churn out all killer albums like Back in Black. You could say they're playing it safe, but the formula is tried and tested, and for the most part it works.