Review The Artist (35)
Stiff Upper Lip is the 17th album from a group that many would call the world’s greatest rock band. The 12-song disc finds AC/DC as unflappable as ever, a vibrant, vital rock band at the top of their game.
Anchored by one of rock’s most rhythmic duos - brothers Angus and Malcolm - and buoyed by the infamous throaty drawl of singer Brian Johnson, Stiff Upper Lip not only serves up the kind of carnal shards that fans have come to expect, (it’s their first studio album in five years) but also tips its hat to the blues-rock-roots of AC/DC and brother/producer George Young - who returns to the work the boards for the first time since 1978’s classic Powerage. "Malcolm and I were sitting around going over possible producers one day," recalls Angus. "We started talking about records and stuff and the idea of using George again just snapped into our heads at the same time. Obviously he knows what AC/DC is all about. For us there has always been that subtle blues element in what we do. All good rock has that foundation of the blues in it somewhere."
From Angus’ scorching intro on the album’s title song, "Stiff Upper Lip," to the bluesy stomp of "Meltdown," right through the clipped bursts of thunderous guitar on the rousing "Can’t Hold Me Back," it’s evident that the boys’ camaraderie set the tone. "It was fun to make this record," says Angus. "We never like to be under pressure, and no band should make an album like it’s some sort of a chore. George likes to capture the character of the people in the studio and I think we did that. He doesn’t care so much about what’s technologically correct, as long as it sounds like AC/DC."
Vocalist Brian Johnson says he has another barometer when making an AC/DC record.
"This one was a 135,000 cigarette album," he laughs. "I can always tell if we’re making a good one, when the smokes are going before, during, and after a take."
Angus agrees: "We’re a bit like the old army when we go into record. Don’t forget that the number one staple in World War I and II was tobacco." A proper metaphor for a band that has never looked over their shoulder.
"We know who we are," says Angus. "We trust each other and rely on that. A lot of music you hear starts getting that fast food mentality - just put it out. We’ve never been about that." Brian says the process of give and take is important, as well. He points out that "Stiff Upper Lip" was a song that captured the band’s playful approach. "When the boys first played me that riff I just started going off in what I like to call my ‘Satchmo’ voice," laughs Brian. "I was like ‘is this too much?’ But the boys were ‘no, no that’s perfect.’ We had such a great vibe making this record. I think all the brothers had such simpatico going with the guitar exchanges and riffs – the whole thing was just a refreshing ball."
Other standouts fans will be flocking to are the blistering "Satellite Blues" and the slippery ride of "Can’t Stand Still." "I love that one," says Brian. "When I listen to that song it reminds me of everything that’s fun and alive about rock n’ roll. I sang it through in one take and if you listen at the end you can even hear the boys applauding. That’s the kind of atmosphere we had throughout the making of this album."
No wonder. George Young has produced some of AC/DC’s most classic albums, including their 1974 debut High Voltage, 1977’s Let There Be Rock, 1978’s If You Want Blood (You Got It), and Powerage. Says Brian: "I think the album has a wonderful feel – almost pre-Back In Black (produced by Mutt Lange) – which was the AC/DC era where George’s hand was felt the most. He really makes recording exciting. He makes it feel like everyone is contributing their best all of the time."
Back In Black, of course, is also a bittersweet demarcation line in AC/DC folklore. The band’s original singer, the legendary Bon Scott, died tragically before the making of what some consider AC/DC’s milestone work. Brian Johnson was chosen in April of 1980, and quickly stepped up to record the album the following month. Fans embraced the disc like no other AC/DC album. It would go on to make history for AC/DC, breaking dozens of sales records, and landing them sold out concerts across the globe, forever cementing their reputation as hard rock’s preeminent troubadours.
From their very first gig in the early ‘70’s in Sydney, Australia at a place called the Chequers Club (artists such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra performed there) the AC/DC legend grew in direct proportion to the band’s take-no-prisoners philosophy. "We’d play anywhere anytime, and not always to adoring fans," laughs Angus. "But we never stopped playing – mostly in fear of what would happen when we did." The group earned their stripes as one of rockdom’s most dedicated live bands, with Angus’ schoolboy attire becoming one of the most famous trademarks in rock history.
Throughout the years, AC/DC has managed to create that rarest of bond between their fans. Whether it was the classic Let There Be Rock of 1977, the anthem laced Highway To Hell of 1979, or the pseudo-best of collection, Who Made Who of 1986, the soundtrack for Stephen King’s movie Maximum Overdrive (He’s one of the group’s most vocal fans) AC/DC has never given in to the crass commercialism or shameless self-promotion that have scarred other bands’ careers.
Their most recent release, the 1997 Bonfire box set, a 5-CD collection crafted by the band as a tribute to Bon, was done with the usual AC/DC understatement. "That project wasn’t ever about nostalgia," says Angus. "It was about his spirit. We even called on fans to help us track things down."
Angus has said that one of the keys of AC/DC’s longevity has always been the ability of their audience to relate to them. "We always stop and say ‘what would our fans think?’" says Angus. "Sometimes it’s like we’re on a first name basis with ‘em. We’ve learned never to pay too much attention to the trends, or to what the experts are telling you is the next big thing. Our fans know what to expect from us. And that’s how we approach making a record. I always say sometimes it’s the guy digging the ditch that can tell you more about building the road then all the engineers put together."
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AC/DC Rocks!!!!! | Reviewer: don | 2/7/11
i've been to several concets of this heavy metal band from down under. i'll never forget the last two concerts i webt to on the black ice tour. my friends and i stood front row and center and litterally shook hands and high fived the members of ac/dc. best concert ever been to. keep rockin guys. peace
Unstopable High Voltage | Reviewer: Papa Shockley | 1/6/10
It was 1976 I was in Europe. I was 17 years old.
Living in the south of Spain with a friend from
the States. He brought home this album, It was
"Powerage". It was blistering. It electrified
my soul. It's 2010. Now I'm 52. I have every
album, been to 18 shows. AC/DC has and alway
will be in my personal opinion the hardest
Rocking band ever. Their lives shows can only
be described as Explosive and Raw. Never in
the history of Rock have we been fortunate to
be the recipients of such awesome Power !!
"I Salute You "
rock for ever | Reviewer: super guitarist | 12/10/09
the band AC/DC is undoubtedly the best band of the 70', 80', and the 90'. Angus is the reason i even own a SG Standard, i thought that first act was the bomb. now it's all sg, all the time. mine is very custom, it has a cherry sun burst w/ EMG SuperSustainers, and a bigsby system. in total, this thing has cost me about $12,000.
AC/DC THE BEST BAND EVER | Reviewer: ANGUS23 | 7/10/09
well i don't have much to say,those one who doesn't hear are ABSOLUTELY ASSHOLES AND DOUSHEBAGS, there r the best band in the whole wide world. and any band is going to be better in the future. the best album in my opinion is powerage but that depend of everyone. I would give everything if i could meed. there are the gods in flesh. jeje. xD!!
AC/DC History Lesson | Reviewer: Katie | 3/20/09
There are many people on here who are complete and utter idiots.
AC/DC, satanic? Have you gone bonkers?
Yes, we have freedom of speech and free will blah blah blah...
But if you don't know your facts, you shouldn't open your mouth.
Also, to those idiots who think AC/DC stands for Antichrist/Devil's Child, please remove your head from your ass.
It's an abbreviation for Alternate Current/Direct Current.
If you payed attention in Science class in THE FOURTH GRADE you'd know that.
I grew up to this music, not in the 60's-70's, however, I was born in '90.
My Dad's favorite band is AC/DC and he played it alot when I was younger.
He was around my age when they were getting big.
He has a bunch of old AC/DC vinyls and tapes.... (From back when tapes were "in")
One of the tapes being Powerage.
Has some of the best songs by AC/DC on it in my opinion.
I'm just really frustrated that most of the younger generation and prepubescent teens only know the songs they play on their local Classic rock stations...
Back In Black, Highway To Hell, Who Made Who, For Those About To Rock, Hells Bells, etc., etc.
To really know a band... To really appreciate a band, you've got to listen to the stuff that they first made... To learn where they came from and how they've changed.
I'm disappointed that listening to AC/DC has only become a fad for kids to grasp onto so they don't feel left out.
You want to hear some GOOD shit?
Listen to stuff like Gone Shootin', Sin City, Kicked In The Teeth, Rock 'N' Roll Damnation, Gimme A Bullet, Riff Raff..... I could go on and on.
All of those songs, of course, are on the Powerage album.
You'll find it hard to believe that it was released in '78.
Moral of this post: AC/DC is a legendary band, don't trash their name, bring their rep down and make a mockery of their true fans by being ill-informed about who they really are.
And more importantly, about how they undoubtedly rock.
Hi Brian (Dads 1st Cousin) Please forward | Reviewer: Nikita and Alex Hartwell | 10/21/08
Hi There.Its Nikita and Alex ( Neils Girls)in Toronto,Canada. We got tickets for your concert but Mom did not.Is there any way theres some available for the January or Nov concerts..This would be a great surprise for her if you reply....Thank you.ps got your new CD today BRILLIANT as usual.xo
39 and still rockin to ac dc | Reviewer: kimberly | 6/21/08
ac dc has been my fav for almost a billion years seen them 13 times(2x w/ bon) still lovin them...cant wait for the fairwell tour so my teenage boys can experience this shit first hand...all they have heard is stories...rock on!!!!
For Those About to Rock!!! BOOM!!!! | Reviewer: silvertonguedevil2008 | 2/2/08
After seeing AC DC for the first time in Portland's Rose Garden Arena on the ballbreaker tour I was blown away at how good they sounded. I did not expect such a hard rocking band to sound so clean and crisp. I had seen many others before them, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Dio, Ozzy, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden.. and the list goes on and on. AC DC set the bar for others to match. I doubt very much that anyone out there, past or present could surpass their performance here. All of the fans here in the Rose city were treated to a double dosage of Angus and the crew when they returned to Portland in the later stage of the same Ball Breaker tour. I bought a T shirt for my girl friend at the first show, which was in the early stage of the tour, and I noticed that it did not have a second Portland show listed on it. The shirt I got for myself at the second show had their return date on it which leads me to believe that the band recognized their performance in one of the worlds best sounding venues was a special moment, and that Portland fans themselves knew this too and deserved a second Jolt of AC DC voltage. Again thinking that the band might not sound so good, this time because they were winding down to the end of a long world tour, and it would be understandable if the vocals and energy level were down just a bit, I was blown away when they were even more energetic and sounded just as good, if not better, than their first show here. Hats off to the Kings of Rock.
For Those About To Rock...BOOM!!!! Porland fans salute you...Those Cannon Blasts just about took our building down, the people out side said it could be heard more than 15 blocks away.. Way to go guys.. Come see us again soon and we will definatly come to see and hear you.. If we have any hearing left...lol.... Salute.
lets get the tour on the road | Reviewer: JAMESMICHAELLONG | 11/29/07
im going thru d.t.s i want to see these guys jam i live near tampa and know that brian johnson lives in sarasota been going to the concert since back in black my dog is named angusac dc is all i listen to so if u start a band u should use their formate cause they r the shit and still are successful even with out bon what other band can say the r without their orignal singer
I AM THE ACDC MEGAFAN!!!!! | Reviewer: sir_terrence | 11/20/07
ACDC is my favorite band. I worship angus and the gang as gods. My favirite songs are Who Made Who, Aint No Fun (Waitin Round To Be A Millionaire), Shot Down In Flames and Gone Shootin. I gurantee that the lot of ya dont even know those songs.
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