AC/DC have dedicated themselves to playing unfussy hard rock ever since they first got together in Sydney, Australia forty-one years ago. Their fifteenth internationally released studio album, ‘Rock or Bust’, promises devotees another reassuringly familiar helping of thunder from Down Under. No keyboards. No introspection. Only rock. To some people, they’re just that band with the guy who dresses up like a schoolboy. But what do you really need to know?
They are that band with the guy who dresses up like a schoolboy
Looking for a stage gimmick, lead guitarist Angus Young made his debut performance wearing a school uniform at the suggestion of his sister in 1974. Angus is now the band’s sole original member; tragically, his older brother – 61-year-old rhythm guitarist Malcolm – has recently been forced into retirement because he is suffering from dementia.
Expect the expected
AC/DC pride themselves on releasing albums that all sound exactly the same and Rock or Bust is no different: alongside the title track, there’s ‘Rock the Blues Away’, ‘Rock the House’ and ‘Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder.” There is zero message to discern except, “We really are very fond of rock.” Perhaps only ABBA has ever shared such a totally unaffected purity of vision.
Really, it’s all about the tour
In both commercial and musical terms, the band is never going to improve upon their 1980 masterpiece ‘Back in Black’, which has sold 40 million copies worldwide. However, as a mammoth live act, AC/DC just get better and better; in support of their last album, 2008’s Black Ice, they played to over 5 million people in 108 cities. So do yourself a favour and bag some tickets but…
Put that lighter away
Conventional wisdom maintains that AC/DC has never recorded a ballad, though this is incorrect as early in their career they cut the mawkish ‘Love Song’. Thankfully, this youthful experiment remains an isolated incident. “I don’t mind hearing a ballad every now and then,” says Angus Young. “Like, once a year maybe.”
If you like AC/DC, you’re in good company
Keith Richards is a huge AC/DC fan and counts their 1978 album’ Powerage’ — the connoisseur’s choice — among his favourite rock and roll records. The band is also popular among great white sharks. Using underwater speakers in 2011, an Australian tour operator found that these fearsome apex predators became “more inquisitive and a lot less aggressive” when exposed to AC/DC’s music and particularly dug the excellent ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.
What to say: “Dur-dur-dur-dur-dur-dur-dur… ANGUS!”
What not to say: “I can’t wait to hear Acker-Dacker’s new direction!”
Rock Or Bust is available now