Flick of the Switch (1983)

1. Rising Power 2. The House is on Fire 3. Flick of the Switch 4. Nervous Shakedown 5. Landslide 6. Guns for Hire 7. Deep in the Hole 8. Bedlam in Belgium 9. Landslide 10.Brain Shake


If ever there was a clearer example of how quickly times and tastes change in the music business. After being kings of arena rock during its prime in the late 70s – early 80s, MTV and New Wave abruptly arrived on the scene. All of the sudden, people were flocking to groups such as Duran Duran, Men at Work, and The Police. AC/DC was yesterday’s news. When one saw this new release in a record store back then, you were severely tempted to simply laugh.

Well, the first thing we must say about this album is that the guys deserve high praise for not giving in to any temptation nor advice to “modernize their sound”. Although such a gimmick might have produced better sales at the time, there’s no doubt that it would have been viewed as a disaster in hindsight. No, AC/DC never really changed their sound, it’s just that such stubbornness was probably not looked on too fondly when many felt that change was necessary to survive during this period.

Also, the band was starting to slowly unravel. A bit unhappy with the over production of last year’s For Those About To Rock We Salute You, the band sacked producer Mutt Lange and decided that they would produce the album themselves. Also, drummer Phil Rudd was given the pink slip after his work was done on this album. Sources say too much drugs and partying simply compromised his performance. Add to the fact that this was still during the era of record companies insisting on artists putting out an album every year or so, and one can see how the pressure may have been a tad too much.

This album, though, is probably one of their most underrated pieces in their catalog. It’s not great, but it can be considered “very good”. Let’s remember that since this band never changed that much, distinguishing a good album from a bad album simply relies on how good the tracks sound.

The first track, Rising Power is ironically one of the worst things here. They seem to initially be stuck in the same rut as on their last album when they focus on idiotic screaming anthem-like during the chorus. Oh sure, the Mutt Lange over production, reverbish thing is gone, but ultimately, this song suffers the same fate. Fortunately, they recover quickly, and the next several songs are all very strong.

Producing the record themselves doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. At this phase in their career, they had seen everything that needs to happen in the control room of a studio, and since the band was a bit stressed out at this point, it was probably a wise move that they decided to stay isolated from any outside influence.

The album is very very heavy on guitar. Angus and Malcolm Young’s playing is definitely in the forefront, and they don’t pull any punches sounding very loud, angry, and excited all at the same time. The album has enough variety to keep things interesting for 37 minutes, although the last couple of tracks falter a bit in terms of repetition. Still, though, there are more positives than negatives, and hindsight shows that this record was probably just released at the wrong time to generate any more popularity than it did.

It might have helped if a bit more care had gone into the album design.

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