High Voltage (1976)

1. It's A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll) 2. Rock 'N' Roll Singer 3. The Jack 4. Live Wire 5. TNT 6. Can I Sit Next To You Girl 7. Little Lover 8. She's Got Balls 9. High Voltage


AC/DC has basically been able to claim what no other band, at least that I know of, can claim. They essentially have the exact same formula on every album, have very few hits or well-known songs, yet somehow remain so immensely popular, that they can still sell out massive arenas more than 40 years after their inception. I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it's because, in many ways, they epitomize what rock and roll should be - loud, obnoxious, fun, a bit sleazy, and damn catchy. These guys were never going to incorporate synthesizers, add orchestral arrangements, or try for a syrupy power ballad. I guess rock and roll needs a bit more purity such as this.

Their very first album nails the formula spot on - containing every element that would make this band famous. To be completely fair, this debut is actually a combination of two records that were originally only released in the band's home continent of Australia, so it probably should be a bit more polished than your average debut. It should also be pointed out that they really aren't actually Australian. Yes, that's where they began, but key members Angus Young, Malcom Young, and Bon Scott actually hail from Scotland. Not surprisingly, both places probably try to obtain bragging rights when describing the origins of this band.

This album, like all of their records, is very simple, yet very sturdy. Most of the songs on this album seem to be about being (or wanting to be) a rock star, or wanting to blow things up. You can't help but laugh through many of the tracks, whether it's because their being so silly and sleazy, or whether it's because they're purposely putting things in here that simply don't belong. The first track, for example, It's a Long Way To the Top (If You Want to Rock 'N' Roll) comes complete with a Bon Scott bagpipe solo. Fortunately (I guess), they never tried this again, but the irony works well here in terms of the band stating that they really don't expect to be taken too seriously. Then, we have the great bluesish number The Jack, which is filled with double entendres using symbolism from a deck of cards and has a mock audience booing the band at the end of the song. Again, it simply works. The song manages to be great, and somewhat funny, at the same time.

Every song here works beautifully. The only negative thing that can really be said is that a few songs seem to run a bit long. It must be said, however, that many folks were not very receptive to these guys when this album came out. Let's face it - they were quite different from anything that might represent the "norm" in rock and roll back then. Bon Scott, in particular, was definitely one of a kind. The guy both looked and sounded like a dangerous inmate at a high security penitentiary. They actually had a lead singer before him, but that guy sounded too "normal". Hindsight shows us the change was a very good move.

Many even initially dubbed the band as "punk" rock. Go figure. As time went on, however, the sound became much more accessible as rock and roll gravitated more to the simple and less from the overblown. The band had several records better than this one, but considering this album was their first, it deserves accolades for achieving its objectives in a mighty way.

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