Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

About a month ago I picked up the new AC/DC album Black Ice from Wal Mart and have spent some time listening to it. There has been a lot of hype leading up to Ice, there's been rumors for a few years that a new album was coming. Then there was a lot of talk about this being their swan song, one last blast with an album and tour followed by retirement. Of course, the exclusive distribution courtesy of Wal Mart was the next subject. Meanwhile, band's came out of the woodwork to emulate the Aussie rocker's trademark sound-particularly Airbourne. Sometimes I hear Airbourne and I think it's AC/DC until the chorus hits and I realize I don't remember the tune that well. That's not necessarily a knock on Airbourne, they do the AC/DC well and acted as a herald for hard rocker's true comeback.

I debated on covering this disc just because I wasn't sure if there was a point. Every AC/DC album sounds the same as the last, more or less. At this point in their career, you either like what they do or you don't. It's not about originality here, it's about execution. Do the songs fire you up and stick in your head like dark beer or leave you flat? Well, I'll get to that in a moment.

Most of my life I was a casual fan of AC/DC. The first time I saw their emblem was when the loser across the street graffitied the water meter on my house with their logo, Van Halen's logo and the phrase "I'm a rootin tootin cowboy". The next exposure was when the Emilio Estevez movie Maximum Overdrive came out and had a soundtrack by AC/DC. I copied that tape off a friend and played it every once in a while, diggin' on jams like Who Made Who and Shake Your Foundations. Fast forward to 2000, my wife came home with the CD Stiff Upper Lip. We went to see them in concert and it was the best show I've ever seen from any band ever. I've seen a lot of bands, but I've never seen anyone rock that hard. After that, I was a fan.

That was nine years ago, almost a decade ago. After my birthday, I went out and picked up Black Ice for a long awaited listen. My impressions? It's still AC/DC. Screechy raspy vocals, throbbing bass, rock steady snare drum and vicious guitar assault. The execution of their classic formula is fairly strong, the performance doesn't lag or show any age. About half of the songs are memorable, particularly the thunderous Big Jack, the slick Wheels or the WWE hyped Spoilin' For A Fight. There's more variety in the grooves than the prior disc Stiff Upper Lip, songs move at different speeds and are aided by focusing on stronger choruses. My only criticism is that to me AC/DC is at their best with just the ten best songs on each album, the quality of their songwriting seems to suffer past that point.

Black Ice is a good dose of brutal, sleazy Hard Rock served up as only AC/DC truly can. It overstays its welcome a little, but by the end of the disc I was ready to start over at track 1 again. It's not the best AC/DC album, I'd rank it in the top half or so in their storied career. AC/DC preaches to the converted here and when they're on they make a good case for rock and roll salvation.


Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Been looking for an excuse to pick this one up. I've been a fan of AC/DC since the beginning. Only problem is... the last two times I've been over to my Walmart they were out. Guess I'll have to make the trek down to the Walmart in the rich folks neighborhood. :)

Mr. Mike said...

Cool! I tried to get an oil change today, AC/DC sounded even better on the way over. Guess I was in an AC/DC mood!

Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Tried and succeeded? Or tried and failed?

Mr. Mike said...

Tried and failed, it was an hour and ten minute wait so I didn't bother in the end. Will try again another time.

Some Kinda Wonderful said...

That reminds me... I need to take our baby in for service... Thanks!