AC/DC’s ROLE as rap-music progenitor cannot be overlooked.

‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ planted the seed for Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’, and lagered-to-death squealer Bon Scott called himself “Public Enemy No. 1” on ‘T.N.T’. His claim that “by the time I was half alive I knew what I was gonna be” forecast Ice Cube’s memories of life inside his dad’s testicle. And AC/DC’s 1976 “hotel, motel” chant on ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ unlocked the door for the Sugar Hill Gang’s “hotel, motel, Holiday Inn” refrain three years later.

AC/DC didn’t incorporate disco synths under its obsessive marsupial-man grunts until the ’80s, but its fast ’70s grind in ‘Rock’n’Roll Singer’, ‘Highway to Hell’, and ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ actually feels more electrodisco, complete with android music-hall chatter and extraneous sounds (bagpipes, even!). And though today’s smarmy grunge-revivalists and funk-sludge creeps pledge allegiance to the Stooges and AC/DC, not a single sorry one of them understands how Iggy, then Bon, then Brian Johnson used voices as rhythm, rap-style.

On the best songs from AC/DC’s new live album, its first since 1978s unforgettable If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It, raunch-riffs and ale-wails are organized entirely around the bass and drums. On ‘High Voltage’, the band locks into an unceasing groove and builds it for ten-plus discofied minutes. But the other ten-minute-plus long tracks devolve into boogie wank, and too many in-studio versions are slowed down and de-energized; ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ has Johnson tripping all over himself. Johnson has never been able to touch Scott’s feral-teen urgency, and AC/DC’s big rosy bottom has forfeited a whole lotta the fire of yore. Slow garrumphs such as ‘Sin City’ and ‘Hells Bells’ have always been kinda boring, and on AC/DC Live, ‘Are You Ready’ might as well be Judas Priest. Who suck.

I like the Who’s Next synth-looping all through ‘Thunderstruck’, the skinhead crowd-shouts in ‘T.N.T’, and the minute-short Irish folk croon-along ‘Bonny’. But another crummy thing is how Johnson applies his red editor’s marker to Scott’s Book-of-Genesis rewriting in ‘Let There Be Rock’. Scott sang, “The red man had the blues,” maybe because he heard Charley Patton was a half-breed, but Johnson politically corrects him and says “the black man” instead. At least he was nice enough not to change the part about Tchaikovsky inventing rock’n’roll in 1955.

© Chuck EddySpin, December 1992

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