The Razors Edge (1990)

1. Thunderstruck 2. Fire Your Guns 3. Moneytalks 4. The Razors Edge 5. Mistress For Christmas 6. Rock Your Heart Out 7. Are You Ready 8. Got You By The Balls 9. Shot of Love 10.Let's Make It 11.Goodbye & Good Riddance To Bad Luck 12.If You Dare


If you were to line up every AC/DC album out in front of you and had to pick the one that sounded the least like all the others, there’s a good chance that you would point to this record. Although their popularity was slightly better during the latter half of the eighties than it had been during the early half, the truth was that they weren’t really capturing their glory of a decade ago. This album actually gets them as close as they ever would be. Sadly, a lot of their fans thought the band gave up just a tad too much of their core identity to achieve such results, and even though this is probably their best known album other than Back in Black, you can’t help but wonder if a tad too much was sacrificed.

Producer Bruce Fairbairn is brought in to lead the project. He had an excellent reputation of producing hard rock acts, most recently handling the dials for some of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith’s best work. Being that this record sold over 5 million copies and had a few semi-radio hits, you have to concede that he did the job that he was paid to do. Still, though….

With most AC/DC songs, you know as soon as the opening guitar riff kicks in that you’re listening to an AC/DC song. That’s not really the case here. It isn’t until singer Brian Johnson immediately starts his trademark caterwauling that you can identify the group. Two of the biggest and well known band tracks on this album Thunderstruck and Moneytalks are prime examples. They’re both very catchy, very hard driven, very melodious, but you can’t help wondering if these songs really were, in fact, written by the band and/or for the band. Had this entire record been filled with examples such as these, it would be very easy to call this album “great but different”, but truth be told, there are a lot of clunkers here.

Fortunately, there’s more great stuff to enjoy. Particularly enjoyable are the title track, The Razors Edge, the second song Fire Your Guns (just how many AC/DC songs feature the word “gun” in the song title anyway?), and, to some extent Rock Your Heart Out. I say “to some extent” because even that song seems to have brief moments when the band seems to divert too much from the norm and try to sound more commercially “acceptable”. It almost sounds like you can hear (-gulp-) keyboards!

Other songs such as Are You Ready and Let’s Make It just don’t do anything for me. They’re trying too hard to be too different. No, they never lose their hard rock edge, but the songs just sound too forced and plastic.

In the “really awful” department, we have songs such as Mistress for Christmas. The less said about this song the better. There’s a very good reason why this band never appeared on any of those Holiday compilation records celebrating Yule time. If you do ever come across such a record, my advice would be to run very far the other way. I can’t imagine anyone finding anything to like with such cornball lyrics as “I want the woman in red/At the bottom of my bed….” The last song on the record is probably the worst thing here, ironically called If You Dare. They should have turned the dare down.

Speaking of cornball lyrics, it might be worth mentioning that Brian Johnson stopped writing the lyrics when this album came out. They were now being handled (like the music) by brothers Malcolm and Angus. Not that it should really matter. Other than the idiotic “Christmas” song, most probably can’t tell a difference in the lyric department.

Still, there really is an awful lot to like on this record, and there are many that don’t mind the band’s radical departure from their classic sound. It was played, it sold, they were a lot more popular than they had been for quite some time. So, I guess, it was a job well done.

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