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AC/DC - 2014 Rock Or Bust




ARTIST: AC/DC
ALBUM: Rock Or Bust
LABEL: Albert/Columbia
SERIAL: 88875037267
YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

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

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock Or Bust * 02 Play Ball * 03 Rock The Blues Away * 04 Miss Adventure * 05 Dogs Of War * 06 Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder * 07 Hard Times * 08 Baptism By Fire * 09 Rock The House * 10 Sweet Candy * 11 Emission Control

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.acdcrocks.com


Background
With the recent tumultuous events surrounding AC/DC, it's safe to say their first album since 2008's 'Black Ice' has been overshadowed somewhat by founding member Malcolm Young's sad battle with dementia and Phil Rudd's recent arrest and apparent decline into drug induced oblivion. Rudd of course played on 'Rock Or Bust' (although he was ten days late turning up for recordings in Vancouver.. Ed) with the Young brothers enlisting cousin Stevie for his second go around in the band following his first stint replacing Malcolm in 1988. Musically it does nothing to influence the band, with the trademark sound as present as ever and probably more blatant than 'Black Ice' itself. Keeping things even simpler most of the songs are three minutes or less and the album clock in under 35 minutes, somewhat of a rarity in an age where every album seems to contain 15 songs and go over an hour. Then again there's never been anything complicated about AC/DC and four decades into their career why would anything change? This album is as no frills as it gets and for AC/DC almost low key by comparison to past efforts. But anyone expecting another 'Back In Black' or 'Flick Of The Switch' will be let down again, the heaviness of the past now clearly over for good.


The Songs
'Rock Or Bust'- The title track sounds like a mixture of every Brian Johnson era album ever, part 'Nervous Shakedown' and 'Fly On The Wall' in tone, grittier than the last album with a back to basics chorus. A sure crowd pleasing opener you'd have to say.

'Play Ball'- The Major League Baseball connotations and advertising with this song was slightly sickening, even though Johnson's back to singing about getting drunk and playing ball with some floozy in the bar apparently. It's relatively tame despite the hook, with again a touch of the 'Fly On The Wall' days about it.

'Rock the Blues Away'- This is Johnson's favourite song on the album according to an interview I heard with him today and although it features a breezy chorus and keen sense of melody it's just a bit too light, almost happy in tone. This one just doesn't hit the spot for me.

'Miss Adventure'- This nifty play on words sees the boys churning out some cornball riffs and backing vocals recalling 'The Razors Edge' era. It's good to see the band returning back to naughtier material again after the almost restrained 'Black Ice'. As one of four songs under 3 minutes it's gone before you can get sick of it.

'Dogs of War'- Rather surly and moody is this war inspired track about 'soldiers of fortune' which brings 'War Machine' from 'Black Ice' to mind. Again it has a decent chorus but it just isn't heavy enough, lacking the bite that you crave from AC/DC but know is gone forever. Angus lays down a quality solo however, fading the song out in some style.

'Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder'- This one plods along without catching any steam, despite the promising title. It has a foot stomping vibe and some handclaps, but AC/DC could write this in their sleep. At six tracks in it's far too restrained like the tracks before it.

'Hard Times'- The bass line for this track is similar to the 'Ballbreaker' album and the chorus again has a crude charm, but it never breaks out of first gear, although the riffs have a shady tone, almost mischievous. Nothing to really obsess over.

'Baptism by Fire'- Could it be? AC/DC playing at speed, even if it's half-hearted? It actually happens here, with the opening bars evoking the classic 'Riff Raff' briefly. I get the feeling with Malcolm on guitar it would have been a lot heavier, but something's clearly missing. It just sounds too thin in the riffs department. At least there's some noticeable energy, even if not fully realized. It could be a poor relation to 'Fire Your Guns' or 'Rock Your Heart Out' for more precise comparisons.

'Rock The House'- The sleaze element returns with some blatant riffs and lyrics about some broad Brian is rocking the house with 'all the way down' and 'making her scream'in the process. These lyrics are as ludicrous as anything from their past and result in a winner, with a hook that for inexplicable reasons capture my imagination like all the previous tracks didn't. At 2:43 it's the shortest track here and almost a blur.

'Sweet Candy'- The resurgence continues with another sex inspired romp about a stripper sliding down a pole and getting Brian excited. Once again the chorus and riffs veer towards vintage AC/DC, pure raunch as only they can pull it off. This is where the band have always been at their strongest in the Johnson era. Anything from 1985 or before would eat it alive though.

'Emission Control'- I have to admit the opening riff here made me shake my head in disbelief for a second, as vintage as you like from Angus and Stevie ostensibly. It's another piece of naughtiness from the band, who really saved this album from being totally non-descript with the last three songs here. A good way to end the album, with as close to a wall of noise as you'll find here, Angus stealing the show with his finest work on offer.


In Summary
At this stage of their career it's hard to expect more from AC/DC at this point. I admit to being slightly unmoved by the majority of the album, with the short songs and general lack of energy being key factors. It isn't nearly as convoluted as 'Black Ice' and works better as a result however, wisely keeping the number of tracks down to reduce the fluff. Whether or not I'm still listening to this in a year or even a month is debatable though; it just doesn't have the heaviness to keep it at the forefront of their catalogue. Somehow I suspect it will be replaced easily by 'Let There Be Rock' or 'Flick Of The Switch' in due course. But it's still nice to have new product from AC/DC, with the band even managing to crank out a studio album before Metallica since both their late 2008 releases!


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