Fly on the Wall (1985)

1. Fly on the Wall 2. Shake the Foundations 3. First Blood 4. Danger 5. Sink the Pink 6. Playing with Girls 7. Stand Up 8. Hell or High Water 9. Back in Business 10.Send for the Man


It had only been five short years since this band was riding high in terms of popularity and, to some extent, record sales. Sadly, the guys realized that a combination of hedonistic living along with changing tastes in music can seriously harm a band pretty quickly. The music business is unforgiving. Although their last release, Flick of the Switch, was a pretty decent sounding record, the sales weren’t nearly what the band had recently become accustomed to on the few records prior.

Like their last record, they produce this one themselves, yet for whatever reason, they botch it up pretty bad. It just sounds wrong. I’m not an expert on music production, so I can’t actually pin point the problems other than to say that lead singer Brian Johnson’s vocals are so buried in the mix, that it sounds like he’s singing through a metal garbage can. There are some that would argue that this shouldn’t matter, as no one listens to AC/DC for their lyrics. This is a good point, but it’s not that you can’t understand the lyrics that’s the problem, it just sounds incredibly muddled. When you can’t even understand what he’s singing when he’s belting out the title of a simple sounding song like First Blood, you know you’ve got problems.

Perhaps the guys were trying to modify their sound to compete with all of the new hair spray metal bands that suddenly appeared via MTV. Time has shown us that such music has (thankfully) faded away like orange leisure suits, but with the band struggling to regain some sort of foothold, it wouldn’t be too surprising if they were trying to modify their sound to match what was currently on the bandwagon.

Despite the hollow sounding production, there are a few songs that sound decent in terms of melody and catchiness. The two leadoff tracks, the title cut and Shake the Foundations are very strong as are Sink the Pink and Playing with Girls. Had those songs been recorded properly, however, they could have sounded much better.

The rest of the album, sadly, varies from mediocre to downright awful. Witness one of their worst songs ever, Danger. Brian Johnson is singing in such a low register that it took me several minutes to realize that it was, in fact, him singing the song and not someone else in the group getting a chance to sing lead. Fortunately, they would never make such a mistake again.

Like all AC/DC albums, when this one is played at loud volume and/or you’re listening while on some sort of mind altering drug, it might not sound that bad. You could make this argument, however, for any heavy metal band during the mid 1980s. It is the consensus of many that this was their worst album ever. They also had a new drummer (Simon Wright replaced Phil Rudd during the tour of their last album), but one can’t blame such a minor change on such a majorly poor record.

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