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AC/DC - 1995 Ballbreaker

ALBUM: Ballbreaker
LABEL: East West
SERIAL: 61780-2
YEAR: 1995
CD REISSUE: 2003, Epic, EK 80219


LINEUP: Brian Johnson - vocals * Angus Young - guitar * Malcolm Young - guitar * Cliff Williams - bass * Phil Rudd - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hard As A Rock * 02 Cover You In Oil * 03 The Furor * 04 Boogie Man * 05 The Honey Roll * 06 Burnin' Alive * 07 Hail Caesar * 08 Love Bomb * 09 Caught You With Your Pants Down * 10 Whiskey On The Rocks * 11 Ballbreaker


This was the first album from the band since 1990's 'The Razor's Edge', which returned the band to the success of the 'Back In Black' era. That said, I regard 1988's 'Blow Up Your Video' the better album. Five years seemed like a long time between albums back then, but of course would be nothing compared to eight later on! Unexpectedly Phil Rudd returned on drums, leaving the band back to the 1980-83 lineup and leaving Chris Slade back on the unemployment line. Rick Rubin was used as producer and from what I gather he and the band clashed often. All the same it was a good comeback from the band and totally at odds with the miserable mid 90's.

The Songs
Despite being a good album there's a noticeable lack of power on 'Ballbreaker.' There are the usual rock solid riffs, but the band never goes for broke as you might expect them too. This is heard in tracks like 'The Furor,' 'Whiskey On The Rocks' and 'Burnin' Alive,' which never take hold properly. For every track like that there's a 'Hard As A Rock', 'Caught With Your Pants Down' and 'The Honeyroll', which rank with the bands best. Aside from the music, the most notable element here is the lyrics. I defy anyone to find anything funnier on any album, ever. To sit down with the lyric sheet is to openly cry tears of laughter. Listening to Johnson sing the lyrics to 'Cover You In Oil' is comedy in its purest form. What's more, the Young brothers wrote them all. In 1995 it just wasn't cool to do this, but this is AC/DC who are impervious to any trend or fad. Locate a lyric sheet and be prepared. In many regards this is what makes the album work so well, its crude nature rather than the music. 'Whiskey On The Rocks' for example sounds like a classic, but it might be the dullest song in the bands history. 'Hail Caesar' sees Johnson doing a perfect Bon Scott imitation and 'The Boogeyman' is a return to the 70's blues sound and one of the best tracks on the album thanks to the skill of Angus.

In Summary
Not the bands best as a whole, but still well up there. There's something so ludicrous about this album that 15 years later I still have trouble absorbing it. After being away for a few years the band must have been intent on reminding everyone who the original masters of this kind of hard rock were, because they outdid themselves in terms of absolute rudeness. Of course it would be five more years until the excellent 'Stiff Upper Lip', but this more than did the trick until then.

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