Rock Or Bust (2014)

1. Rock or Bust 2. Play Ball 3. Rock the Blues Away 4. Miss Adventure 5. Dogs of War 6. Got Some Rock and Roll Thunder 7. Hard Times 8. Baptism By Fire 9. Rock the House 10.Sweet Candy 11.Emission Control


Another latter day AC/DC album that surprised me. Surprising in that I didn’t think they had anything left in their arsenal. This was only their second album of new material in 14 years. Critics always argued that AC/DC put out the same album every time they released a group of new songs. They were always right to some degree, but at this point, it finally seemed to wear me down.

Maybe it’s because after all these years, the music doesn’t sound as fresh as it once did. It sounds, well….the same. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 using the word “same” when describing this band, because when they do try to branch out into new territory, it never seems to really work. Witness a handful of tracks from the last album Black Ice that sounded as if they were trying to go more mainstream. A huge misfire.

It also doesn’t help when more than 1/3 of the cuts on this record have the word “rock” in the song title. You could probably produce a box set full of AC/DC songs that feature that word in the song title. Again, they never really claimed to be innovators. There are a few bright spots on this album, and as always, the album sounds better at full volume. It also helps that the entire album is only about 35 minutes long. That’s about 20 minutes shorter than their last effort (that one was their longest, this one is their shortest). It’s not a bad listen, I just can’t get over the fact that I feel like I’ve heard it all before. Again and again and again.

Then the band started to slowly implode before, during, and directly after this album came out. First, founding guitarist Malcolm Young had to retire due to dementia (his nephew, Steve, would replace him). Then, drummer Phil Rudd got in trouble with the law. Don’t remember too many details, other than he threatened to kill a couple of people. As if these things weren’t bad enough, singer Brian Johnson was forced to retire halfway through the tour because of hearing problems. Hearing problems? Why doesn’t that surprise me? In the “rock and roll is never predictable” department, he was replaced by Guns N Roses front man Axl Rose.

So essentially we have a turmoil of personnel changes following a mediocre album that came out almost 40 years after the band’s first record. Is this a sign of the end? Maybe, but don’t be surprised if these guys keep hammering out more shows, more live albums, and maybe a couple of retrospectives down the road. I also wouldn’t be surprised if maybe another new album comes out six to eight years in the future. Sadly, though, I can almost guarantee that it won’t be anything too memorable.

It was a heckuva wild ride.

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