AC/DC - CD
Sony Music International - Out Nov 13
Most of us probably thought there would not be another AC/DC album after 2014’s Rock Or Bust as Brian Johnson left due to hearing problems, Cliff Williams retired, Phil Rudd had legal problems that kept him from the band and we sadly lost Malcolm Young to dementia in 2017 However, a publicity photo in September this year showed all four remaining members together with Angus’s nephew Stevie Young filling the rhythm guitarist spot…something was going on.
Power Up is one hell of an album; I would go as far as to say one of their best since the 1980’s. It’s all here, exactly what you would expect from AC/DC with twelve excellent songs, ear-bitingly produced and catchy enough to stick in your brain after the first listen. No doubt Angus and Malcolm wrote more than twelve songs in the last six years (the songs are taken from their writing partnership before Malcolm died) but what they have done here is selected the best and fine-tuned them to give maximum enjoyment and impact out of every one. There is no filler, no solos that go on too long or are too flash, no over-the-top production and no icing on the cake. This is a 100% pure Rock ‘n’ Roll album, nothing more, nothing less.
As seems to be the case these days, the album is released in a variety of formats, the niftiest being a box containing the CD which lights up and can be powered from a USB cable – it also plays the opening bars of Shot In The Dark from a built in speaker. However, my opinion would be to buy the Japanese Blu-Ray spec CD which has a lot more separation between the instruments, a warmer bass and an attack from the mid-range that bites into you like a North Sea wind. It hurts but damn it hurts in the right places! There’s no bonus tracks on this release but after 41 minutes of this aural assault, your ears will be glad of a rest.
I like to think that Malcolm Young would have been very pleased with this album. Whether or not it will be AC/DC’s last remains to be seen but if it is, there could be no better farewell or tribute to Malcolm and the band. I’m the first to admit that I went off of AC/DC back at the start of 2000 but this album has dragged me back to their world and I shall revisit a few albums I didn’t listen too much. That said, even if my opinion of those albums holds the same, Power Up will be aired regularly in my house for years to come, another milestone for their band in an illustrious career.
Shot In The Dark
Through The Mists Of Time
Kick You When You’re Down
No Man’s Land
THE PRETTY RECKLESS - CD
DEATH BY ROCK AND ROLL
Sony Music International - Out now
The fourth in a series of occasional releases starting in 2010 by The Pretty Reckless comes five years after their previous release and is a rarity these days in that every track contributes something different and no track makes you want to hit the FF button. Welcome back to the days when albums were made with variety and textures and without filler.
The title track oddly enough, as great as it is, is my least favourite on the album but it is an obvious opener and commercial belter if not a bit cliché. That said, it did hit the top of the US Rock charts and I said in the opening paragraph though, without it, the album would not be complete and provides a very important part of the variety mentioned above. Playing through track by track, different elements of the band come into play in different ways and it all hangs together so well you hardly notice it…but then comes 25. This is a piece of music that takes Rock and Roll and the best James Bond themes by John Barry and mixes them together, topping it with a searing, tension building vocal from Taylor Monsen which then cuts to a brilliant middle-eight before dropping back into the main riff. After this, the album opens up fully with the laid-back Got So High, a quirky quicky called Broomsticks, a classic Metal song called Witches Burn (with some terrific guitar soloing) before closing out with two simply delightful acoustic driven tracks; the former of which Jon Bon Jovi will wish he wrote and the latter of which Neil Young will wish he had wrote.
There are so many great notable moments on this album and along with the aforementioned guitar playing by Ben Phillips (his solo in Harley Darling is unbelievably tasteful) the rhythm section of Jamie Perkins on drums and Mark Damon on bass have got this nailed. With so many styles on this album, it would be easy for those two guys to overplay or underplay their rolls but they haven’t. So, credit where credit is due, this is Taylor’s finest vocal performances to date but it’s the band as whole that really comes through.
Want more? Well aside from the BS2CD mastering on the Japanese edition, how about guest appearances from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron from Soundgarden. This is the sort of music that makes and evokes memories. Buy it and it will be sitting in your CD rack for years to come, pulled out for BBQs, a friend’s evenings in or sometime in the next couple of decades when you want to remember 2021.
Death By Rock And Roll
Only Love Can Save Me Now
And So It Went
Got So High
Standing At The Wall
Roan And Roll Heaven