27th November 2020
When I that heard that AC/DC had released their first new album in 6 years I was sceptical as to whether they could possibly ever capture the sound and energy that they had always been known for. Also, was the question of who would be in the line-up? After all, founder member Malcolm Young had passed away from dementia in 2017, Brian Johnson’s hearing had deteriorated to a point where struggled to hear, let alone tour, and Phil Rudd was facing major legal issues in New Zealand. The future of AC/DC hadn’t looked very bright for quite a few years.
I took a listen to the whole of their 17th studio album of their career this morning and was more than impressed, I was stunned! Firstly, Brian Johnson’s hearing problems have been solved thanks to new technology and his vocals are exactly the same in pitch and power than they ever were. This is not the voice of a 73-year-old! As for the rest of the line-up we see the former members regrouping to produce an album that could have come straight from the 70s. That is not to say that the album sounds dated, it is just that AC/DC sound exactly the same as they ever dd!
I’ve featured quite a few artists from the same era as AC/DC who have released albums over the last year and, without exception, as good as the albums are, you can hear the years in their voices. Not so Brian Johnson and I have no idea how he has managed it. Today I am featuring three of the tracks that really impressed me from the new Power Up album starting with the first single release that has been zooming up the charts. Here’s ‘Shot in the Dark’ and I’ll let you be the judge on how much AC/DC has changed over the years. You may have a problem!
Now you have listened to the first single from AC/DC’s new album I am sure that you’ll agree with me that they are as still as powerful as ever. Power Up might have seemed like an impossibility when the band were falling apart so badly during and after the Rock or Bust tour of 2016. However, rumours of something happening in the AC/DC camp started circulating when Steve Young (nephew of Angus and Malcom} who had been a part of the band since 2012, was photographed in Vancouver with Phil Rudd, who had seemed to have overcome his legal tangles.
The paparazzi pic started a buzz among the music fraternity, especially when another photo appeared soon afterward showing Brian Johnson and Phil Rudd taken outside the Warehouse Recording Studios. The rumours of something stirring were confirmed when Brian Johnson admitted that there was a new album planned although no official announcement was made.
The only additional information emerged a month later when the news that the new album would feature tracks by the late founder, Malcolm Young. Then things went quiet again. There was a flurry of activity on the band’s social media platforms to celebrate the 40th anniversaries of both the Highway to Hell and Back in Black albums, but no mention of the new album.
In September last year another photo appeared in a Fan-Zine of what looked like a video shoot with Phil Rudd and Steve Young on stage along with Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and (of course) Angus Young. The photo had made a brief appearance on the band’s official website until suddenly being removed after a few days.
We’ll pick up with the actual release and some of the band’s comments after we take a listen to ‘Demon Fire’.
You will notice that the late Malcolm Young shares a writing credit on each of the 12 tracks on the Power Up album. This is as understandable as it is touching, and not the first time that AC/DC has dedicated an album as a tribute to a former member. Their Back in Black album had been a tribute to former member Bon Scott.
Back in 2014 when Malcolm Young still had all of his faculties, he and Angus worked on numerous songs and riffs. Angus recalls “At that time he (Malcolm) said, ‘We’ll leave these songs for now. If we keep going, we’ll be overboard. We’ll get them on the next one,’ That always stuck with me. When I went through and listened to them, I said, ‘If I do anything in my life, I have to get these tracks down and get these tracks out.’”
In the lead up to the release ‘PWR-UP’ posters started to appear in strategic locations and the band started forwarding their digital media traffic to the their pwrup.acdc website. It was official at last. The message ‘Are You Ready’ was put out to fans on the various media platforms. After two years of rumours the new album was about to see the light of day.
Short clips of some of the tracks preceded the official October 7th release of the ‘A Shot in the Dark’ video (which we started today with). To celebrate the album’s eventual release several London landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral, Marble Arch, The Battersea Power Station and The Tate Modern were lit up with AC/DC projections.
So what is in store for AC/DC fans in the near future? Although the band did get together for some rehearsals earlier this year Angus’s feeling are as follows “You just keep your fingers crossed that we get through the pandemic. As soon as we get the all-clear, I’m sure we’ll get a chance to go out and perform.” However, any live performances planned probably won’t include Brian Johnson who has admitted that he is not up to heading out on the road again.
We will have to await the outcome of the touring decision, but I am sure there will be more studio releases in store for fans. Angus Young has admitted that there is still a lot of new material in various stages and guises that the band is working on along with older brother George Young (ex the Easybeats) who always advocated ‘You’ll save yourself a whole heap of time, and money, if you make sure you’ve got good ideas ready when you go into a studio‘. I’m sure AC/DC will be saving themselves a packet!
My last track for today is another that could have come for any of their albums over the years. I have enjoyed listening to a collection of new future rock classics from one of the major acts of my younger days. I hope you have as well Here’s Wild Reputation.
The Loving the Music mini-features are written and compiled by me to support Loving the Music Facebook page and group. Join the community for regular themed three-part posts that do do more than just share a song.
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Words © Andrew Knapp 2020