Stiff Upper Lip (2000)

1. Stiff Upper Lip 2. Meltdown 3. House of Jazz 4. Hold Me Back 5. Safe in New York City 6. Can't Stand Still 7. Can't Stop Rock and Roll 8. Satellite Blues 9. Damned 10.Come and Get It 11.All Screwed Up 12.Give It Up


As they progressed later in their career, the time spans would get longer and longer between new AC/DC releases. Were they running out of ideas? Were they losing some of their energy? Did they simply have other commitments? Well, listening to their latter records, they weren’t exactly brimming with top notch material, so they were probably sharing the same fate as many others as they were getting older – meaning it was probably a combination of all of the above said factors.

This album is actually one of their best of their “later year” albums. Big brother George Young was again called into produce the record – he last handled the dials and knobs on 1988’s fiercely underrated Blow Up Your Video - and he proves once again that he’s an excellent choice. The record here sounds a bit meaner, a bit leaner, and has a bit less of the party like atmosphere that was usually synonymous with AC/DC. That’s not to say that this is a serious record. Oh no. This was AC/DC, and most of the familiar clichés, innuendos and double entendres are here as one would expect. Maybe it’s just that they sound more like 50 something partiers as opposed to 20 something partiers?

Like their last album, 1995’s Ballbreaker, this album has a heavier, blues feel going through many of the tracks. When one listens to the first thirty seconds of the first cut, Stiff Upper Lip, you would swear that you’re listening to a ZZ Top album. Even singer Brian Johnson croons the first verse in a much lower register, sounding much more like Billy Gibbons than he does himself. He then morphs into his typical screech/snarl soon enough, however, and hard core disciples can breathe a sigh of relief.

Other highlights include the eerie Safe in New York City (eerie because this album came out about a year before 9/11. It probably would have received a lyric change had they been in the studio during the tragedy), and the rollicking Satellite Blues. There’s really nothing at all “bluesy” about this particular song, as it has the guys rocking at their prime party best. In fact, most of everything that’s here is enjoyable enough – considering the stereo is loud enough and one is in a party mood.

At twelve songs and 48 minutes, however, one can’t help but wonder if they should have shaved a couple of songs off the album. This probably would have been a wise move. Some songs can get a bit old after two minutes or so, meaning they probably shouldn’t have made the cut anyway. I find these particular weaknesses on such tracks All Screwed Up and Hold Me Back. These two songs make the album feel a bit longer than it needs to be. I’m sure others would have different opinions, however.

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