Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Friday, January 16, 2015

AC/DC - Rock Or Bust (2014)

AC/DC, much like Motorhead, are one of those bands that have songs that are just tough to dislike. Whether its lineup changes or changes to producer it seems like nothing really has a negative impact on AC/DC's music. Sure, some albums may sound a bit glossier or blander than others, but I honestly don't believe there is such thing as a bad AC/DC song. 

Of course, that's all of the musical stuff. 

The real world can be a bitch sometimes, but you can't kill AC/DC. I don't know what it is, but they are survivors and they consistently deliver material that sounds like AC/DC no matter what. They could be having the shittiest of times but from their music you would never know because it just rocks so hard and they sound like they are having fun. 

With Malcolm Young's unfortunate health issues and departure from the band, I wasn't sure what to expect from this album. However, I knew from history that they would do something spectacular because they had their backs to the wall. When Bon Scott passed away I don't think anyone expected them to become even more popular and the standard of rock music today, but that is what happened. So I knew better than to count them out. 

Even Phil Rudd's surprising fall from grace will probably not harm them very much in the long run. While certainly a disappointment for the band, AC/DC have gone without him before and have done just fine. 

This band has been around for decades and even though their output since the '90's has been few and far between there are few bands in the history of rock music that can be as dependable as to release something grand and spectacular for each and every decade they've been around. Just think about that. It's like winning the Super Bowl every decade. 

There will never be another AC/DC and when they finally do decide to hang it up it will truly be the end of an era. 

It makes me wonder if Rock Or Bust, an apt album name if ever there was one, will be the last album to feature their name. And if so can it be considered to be a worthy one for such a distinguished band?

Well, the short answer is yes. If this is the last we'll see from AC/DC then I can firmly say that AC/DC in their 60's and late 50's is better than most bands in their 20's or 30's. Of course, it could be argued that this band really isn't AC/DC anymore because Malcolm isn't in the picture anymore. 

I understand the sentiment, but ever since Jeff Hannemann passed away in Slayer and the band members just kept going on like it had never happened I think I went through a process of maturation. 

Moving on sucks, but throwing in the towel sucks even worse. Quitting your job because other people want you to and doing something else is a mentality I don't understand anymore and anyone who does it... Now that's the definition of selling out. Sometimes people have to be replaced even if they are considered irreplaceable. If that means the great rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, Black Sabbath's drummer Bill Ward, or Slayer's departed Jeff Hannemann then that's just what that means. The reasons we just have to respect and trust. 

So yes, this is still AC/DC. 

Stevie Young, playing what were undoubtedly his father's riffs for the most part, is an excellent replacement for Malcolm. I've listened to all of the albums multiple times and as a guitarist I always pay attention to the guitarists. Let me state, for whatever my opinion may be worth, that if I didn't already know that Malcolm had stepped out I wouldn't know that Malcolm had left the band. Stevie did a damn good job and gave a firm shut up to a lot of the naysayers that claimed his new position in the band was just nepotism. 

Brian Johnson sounds better than he has in years. For a 67 year old man that sings with what has to be the most difficult type of voices to master, he must have pipes made of bronze, steel, and gold. I always wonder how his throat just doesn't eat away at itself with how he sings, but he somehow manages to get better with age. Brendan O'Brien did right by him in the studio. 

The rest of the band certainly gives a solid performance although inevitable comparisons to the band's previous albums might make this album look less spectacular than it really is. Think about the time period, though. There will probably not be another surefire mega-selling true rock album for a decade or two considering the stranglehold pop and rap have on the charts. Kids want rap and pop and not rock. The older generation is what mostly keeps the flag flying and they try to teach their kids about AC/DC and Zeppelin. That's how the music survives today. 

It's not Back in Black or Highway to Hell, but this album is probably the closest we can get to Back in Black these days by any band. This is as close as we get to the classic rock album in the modern rock era and it was done by the guys that had made the blueprint for it. I probably said that same about Black Ice, too. I'm not surprised that the one band to prove me wrong this time like last time was AC/DC. 

Rock Or Bust is AC/DC at their best and probably their best since For Those About To Rock We Salute You and there won't be any torch-passing just yet. 

The title song, while not Highway to Hell, is proof that AC/DC always make great title songs. Few bands really do that. I think a title song should be a summary of the album and so it should be the or one of the strongest songs on the album. Rock Or Bust does just what it has to do. The song swings, it rocks, and then it leaves you wanting more. It's also catchy as hell. 

This is the shortest AC/DC album ever. You can listen to it twice in the time it takes most other albums to end. Probably two and a half times compared to a Metallica album. The runtime is a breath of fresh air to me. Like Slayer's Reign in Blood, the fact that the album is so short is actually a blessing. Filler is tossed aside in favor of some breathing room and what is left feels like a short and sweet greatest hits album. If Black Ice rambled on a bit too much then it is safe to say that Rock Or Bust does not. 

Well done, guys. Well done. 

Rock or Bust 3:03
Play Ball 2:47
Rock the Blues Away 3:24
Miss Adventure 2:57
Dogs of War 3:35
Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder 3:22
Hard Times 2:44
Baptism by Fire 3:30
Rock the House 2:42
Sweet Candy 3:09
Emission Control 3:41

Line-up: Angus Young, Stevie Young, Phil Rudd, Cliff Williams, Brian Johnson

1 comment:

  1. I found the new location!

    Not only does the album have a short running time but there's not even a 4 minute song on it. This one is all business, no filler. It's the best one they've had in a long time. I hope this isn't the end but if it's not, they are going to have to pick up the pace a little. I'm not sure they can wait another 8-10 years for the next one. Brian still sounds great at 67 but 77 might be pushing it.