WHEN I humbly volunteered to undertake this venture, I knew full well what a pasting I’d be letting myself in for. Pitting my feeble opinion against the ginormous sum of eight million sales notched up globally for the Black In Black re-birth bash sure was a risky proposition.
I will, I thought, be ammo fodder for devout hero-worshipping skoolkids, outraged by blue-collar office Johnnies offended at seeing their fave “pop” band critically hacked, half Sounds staff, the Tory front bench, Sally James, and every other ‘DC junkie reading this paper. Why, I’m beginning to feel rather small and timid… er, never mind, I wasn’t gonna say much anyway. But boldness must prevail!
See, this super-charged power-station have always fed Direct Current. For unadulterated consistency in deliverance of belligerent boogie over the past seven years, AC/DC, thou art the nonpareil, the tops. How else could they be one of the most respected, renowned outfits alive in overdrive and kickin’ ass in the world today? Qualities such as being able to bounce back and roll on the wagon after such an untimely tragedy as last April’s aren’t universally inherent either.
The trouble is, where’s the Alternating Current? Unadorned rock an’ roll might be fun. But it’s still downright samey, repetitive, tedious. In many respects, it’s just another AC/DC album: rip-roaring riffing, squealing soloing from Angus’s guitar, and gravel-gargling squeals from the larynx of Geordie Johnson. This record was worn out before I’d played it. I’d heard most of it before the needle touched the plastic.
The stark truth is, since High Voltage, barely one watt of improvement has been registered. Indeed, since Powerage not one of the four outputs (this included) has made an impact on me.
FTATR has, in fact, a more bendy scope than Back In Black. The phantom monotony is offset at times, a blessing attributable to variations by the rhythm section which constitutes sixty per cent of this eruptive Valium. Being such a trusty, flawless, tight time-setting trio without a doubt unleashes Angus to explore each nook and cranny of the SG neck. But in the past the bulk of songs penned have been simply structured, four/four beef-outs.
Here, at times, Cliff Williams actually tends to track Angus rather than Phil Rudd’s bass drum beat, and Rudd ain’t ringing out retreads from old linen either. Listen to ‘Breaking The Rules’, an appealing fusion of rock and reggae soldered with heavy metal, or ‘Let’s Get It Up’, a slashing denunciation of sexist stances or ‘C.O.D.’ — ‘Care Of The Devil’: “A call of a dog, cry of a bitch/The cream of the dream is the cause of the itch.” Suss that one out for yourself.
The opening Bible-belt preaching of Padre Johnson and the subsequent slaughterous doctrines make ‘Inject The Venom’ a choice cut next to ‘Breaking The Rules’ and ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’ itself, an authentic tribute to the fans with “authentic” artillery guns included. Betcha Arsenal animals relate to the racket-jacket, a pressed-out cannon on bronze.
Ultimately, the rest is of quite straightforward mayhemic genre — very ‘eavy, very un ‘umble, very Young, Young and Johnson. Howzabout ‘Snowballed’ as an appropriate Santa-special seven-inch, Atlantic? Mistletoe, roast turkey, crackers and AC/DC, the idea gets my clappers together.
As for FTATR, if you love ’em, lap it up. If not, stand clear but give it a listen.
© Phil Bell, Sounds, 5 December 1981