AC/DC: Flick Of The Switch

FOR THOSE about to cry “Oh No Not AC/DC”, I refute you. I’m really sorry about this, but they’ve made some fine records and remain one of the most dynamic live acts of rock. Of course, the greatest thing about them is dead — the awesome Bon Scott is missed not just in AC/DC but metal quarters generally — but each album sees old Brian Johnson getting that little bit closer to Bon’s hirsute tonsilitis. Back In Black is their great record but For Those About To Rock… was drainingly powerful stuff.

What continues to impress about AC/DC is their simplicity and intrinsic modesty. Effectively they carry on working the same song year in year out and still something as titanically oafish as ‘This House Is On Fire’ lurches out of the maelstrom. Back in an extremely humble white sleeve, the group finally bridges the yawning gulf between Slade and ‘The Immigrant Song’. If you can (or want) to believe John Bonham stomping out a beat for Noddy Holder — an Aleister Crowley version of ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’ — you can probably predict how illustriously stupid ‘Bedlam In Belgium’ and ‘Deep In The Hole’ really are.

My one doubt is that their music is now superseded by the tart tantrums of Loverboy and Def Leppard. When Ric Ocasek asked Alan Vega who should direct the next Cars opus, the notable neon sculptor wisely recommended Mutt Lange, since he knew – as well as I or anyone else with half an ear open – that it’s the new Super-rock producers — the Langes and Bakers and Clearmountains — who are modelling today’s guitar sound. (And who should I run into last month but one Ocasek buying – what else? –Pyromania.)

On Flick Of The Switch, AC/DC are producing themselves, and the guitars are very boring. If they could pen one song as good as ‘Photograph’, they’d be kings. It’s all in a flick of the wrist.

© Barney HoskynsNew Musical Express, 3 September 1983

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