AC/DC’s current state of affairs may have played out like a particularly tragic soap opera this year, but there is one thing that will never change.
The simple, sonic power of their boogie-based rock’n’roll style. With Malcolm Young sadly falling prey to the cruel condition that is dementia, AC/DC have kept things in the family, bringing in nephew Stevie Young. With the same equipment and a bloodline forged in rhythm, Malcolm’s spirit remains all over this album, while Angus struts and sparks left, right and centrestage. Brian Johnson oversees all with trademark cheek and gravel.
While the videos haven’t instilled confidence, hearing Rock Or Bust open this album actually carries a fairly similar gravitas to Hell’s Bells opening Back In Black or For Those About To Rock opening the similarly titled 1982 LP. ‘We’re here, we’re doing this, things have changed, but we’re here for the same reason and so are you’ would seem to be the message, and let’s face it, they’ve lived that tale before. Play Ball continues in a similar strong-arm vein, before Rock The Blues Away provides a more soulful take on proceedings, and Miss Adventure riffs heavily into a crowd chant recalling that of 1986’s Thunderstruck.
Mid-way through things gets a little middling. Dogs Of War is a plodder, while Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder does what it says on the tin and not much else. Even so, Baptism By Fire and Emission Control (the latter tastily rocking on a riff not unlike Jimmy Page on Led Zeppelin’s The Ocean to great effect) indicate that these old dogs are not on their last legs just yet.
It’s already #1 in all the countries that have record players, so opinions are moot, really. One thing’s for sure though; while Phil Rudd has since chosen bust, AC/DC continue to rock.