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AC/DC - 1978 Powerage

ALBUM: Powerage
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: SD 19180
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1987, Atlantic, 19180-2 * 2003, Epic, 510762-2 (remastered)


LINEUP: Bon Scott - vocals * Angus Young - lead guitar * Malcolm Young - rhythm guitars, vocals * Cliff Williams - bass, vocals * Phil Rudd - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock N Roll Damnation * 02 Down Payment Blues * 03 Gimme A Bullet * 04 Rif Raff * 05 Sin City * 06 What's Next To The Moon * 07 Gone Shootin' * 08 Up To My Neck In You * 09 Kicked In The Teeth


AC/DC seem to be rolling off the tongues of many rockers these days with the release of the band's first studio album in eight years. As we digest 15 new tracks from brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams, and Phil Rudd, I thought it would be fitting to pull one out of the archives from their original years with Bon Scott. Over time, AC/DC's 1978 release, 'Powerage' has become their forgotten 40 minutes. Released between their classic studio albums, 'Let There Be Rock' and 'Highway To Hell' respectively, 'Powerage' is rarely heard on radio or even mentioned among their better releases. In reality, it is stronger album than the bigger selling Bon releases 'Let There Be Rock' and 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap', and more consistent than the bulk of the Brian Johnson albums (with the exception of 'Flick Of The Switch'). 'Powerage' was the fifth studio album by AC/DC, released in May 1978. All songs were written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott. 'Powerage' marked the debut of bassist Cliff Williams, and with its harder riffs, followed the blueprint set by their previous pugnacious platter 'Let There Be Rock'.

The Songs
If you're an AC/DC fan, I am most likely preaching to the converted, when I state there is not one bad cut on this solid collection of no-nonsense, good time, rock and roll. Aside from these inspired performances, For me it's AC/DC's lyrical content here that has always stayed ingrained in my brain since I was a kid. I catch myself residing lines from this masterpiece to this day.

'Rock And Roll Damnation' - the only single released from this underrated gem. Ironically my favourite version of the song is on the excellent live album 'If You Want Blood You've Got It'. This is where we heard it first though - IMO AC/DC had finally worked out all the kinks and still played with a unquenchable passion and sense of abandon which they would lose a great deal of when they hit the big time with 'Highway To Hell'. From this incredible opening power chord laced anthem, you'll be hooked and the boys refuse to let your mind wander at all until it's over.

'Down Payment Blues' - ' I got myself a Cadillac but I can't afford the gasoline'. A seminal cut featuring a bluesy, fuzzed up, ode to having nothing and liking it, and it probably is my favourite AC/DC song in their entire catalog.

'Gimme A Bullet' - where the Brothers' Young and Bon just crank it out like never before. It's the lyrics again that always stand out to me with 'Gimme a bullet to bite on, something to chew gimme a bullet to bite on, and I'll make believe it's you'. Just inspired work like never before and to some extent never again at this level.

'Riff Raff' - the opening 'riff' on this 'wild bull hopped up on crystal meth' like track implants itself so firmly in your brain that you couldn't shut it out with a sledgehammer. The late Bon Scott sings like a man possessed here.

'Sin City' - classic stuff. Back when rock and roll was sleazy and nobody knew any better. Cliff Williams' first bass solo in an AC/DC song. Music aficionados have pointed out the song contains a more complicated structure than your typical AC/DC song. I say it includes the band's best line from the Bon years: 'Bring on the dancin' girls and put the Champagne on ice.'

'Gone Shootin' - One of Angus' best solos hands down.

'What's Next To The Moon' - never before has a song about a sexually dissatisfied man who vents his frustration by threatening his lover with bodily harm, and perhaps death sounded so enticing! Classic AC/DC!

'Up to My Neck In You' - an absolute corker. Fast paced no frills rock and roll grabbing you by the nape of the neck and refusing to let go. Another highlight and one of my favourite AC/DC song of all time.

'Cold Hearted Man' - the song was never released internationally, but exists on some bootlegs and on the European version only. Don't understand why it was omitted, but later became available to Aussies through the Box set of Bon Scott vinyl LP albums which were released in the late 80's.

'Kicked In The Teeth' - wrapping things up with as much intensity as it began, 'Powerage' ends with a song written by Bon about a cheating woman who was 'running 'round town with every mother's son'. Killer stuff indeed.

In Summary
'Powerage' was originally released on Atlantic Records, and reached #133 on Billboard charts in the US, eventually going Platinum. It was re-released in 2003 as part of the AC/DC 'Remasters' series. Again only one single was released, 'Rock 'n' Roll Damnation' gave AC/DC a modest hit at the time, reaching #24. An appearance at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow during the 1978 world tour was recorded and released as the classic live album 'If You Want Blood You've Got It'. 'Powerage' was the last produced by Harry Vanda and George Young with Bon Scott on vocals (although Vanda and Young would later produce 'Blow Up Your Video'). AC/DC never played better and never had as much fun either, and you can hear it thirty years later. One of the best rock albums of all time. Essential!

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#1 | dangerzone on October 04 2008 04:03:29
I agree. 'Riff Raff' is one of the best tracks the band ever came up with and to this day I wish they could come up with a few riffs like that again. Watching Bon in action back then was surely to see one of the best of all time.
#2 | sabace on October 11 2008 17:34:42
without a doubt their best lp followed closely by the
if you want blood! Bon at his best!
#3 | dude24 on March 17 2010 19:56:14
I remember listening to HV and LTBR with friend who had just purchased both albums; I think it was 1977. I loved the music but could not stand Bon's vocals. It all changed with 'Powerage'. Classic AC/DC!
#4 | swingkingandy on January 24 2018 14:19:56
well having never fully heard all this album but having rnr damnation as my favourite acdc tune thought I'd give this a try. down payment blues tops that track (too) and the album as a whole is a belter! Now my top acdc album with some massive danceable head banging bluesy hard rock.Thumbs Up
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