FFO: Airbourne, Rose Tattoo, Krokus, Quiet Riot, Accept
The story of AC/DC over the last decade has been something of a ‘will they, won’t they’ as anything but concrete evidence circulated the internet; Axl Rose, Brian Johnson leaving, Chris Slade returning, Phil Rudd never actually left, Malcolm Young would be on the album – Blabbermouth was in pure speculation mode. Finally, it came to the official announcement that AC/DC would release their latest album ‘Power Up’ and it would feature the usual cast of Angus Young, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd and Stevie Young.
When it comes to songs about boozing, shagging and loud rock n’ roll, nobody does it better than AC/DC. The band might be ageing gracefully, but that doesn’t stop the guys from hellraising or sticking to what they know. Therefore, ‘Power Up’ is another AC/DC album, the listener knows what to expect; boogie guitars, in your face backing vocals, innuendo and simple chorus’ that have even the virgin listener chanting along to after less than a minute. This is all heralded by the man who eats gravel and washes it down with whiskey with Johnson sounding almost 40 years younger! Once again, ‘Power Up’ has been delivered through the excellent production of Brendan O’Brien; this is a man who knows the band, knows what they want and delivers a sleek, accessible, professional finish. Sure, there’s some work here, O’Brien does stick some reverb on Johnson’s voice to cover the ageing cracks, but to the untrained ears, listening to ‘Power Up’ blind would make you think this was a band in their 20’s as Angus and co. smash through anthemic tracks such as ‘Realize’, ‘Shot in the Dark’ and ‘Witch’s Spell’. However, there is ‘some’ recycling going on here, some riffs, particularly on the latter half of the album have an air of AC/DC’s more ‘forgotten’ albums such as ‘Ballbreaker’ and ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ especially during the track ‘Demon Fire’ which has some of the hallmarks of ‘Caught With Your Pants Down’.
There has been a lot hyperbole surrounding ‘Power Up’, with some even noting that it is the best album since the seminal ‘Back In Black’. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What ‘Power Up’ is, is just another AC/DC album; it is AC/DC doing what they do best, and they are the masters of it. There is no disappointment here, in fact far from it, ‘Power Up’ is an exceptionally strong and enjoyable album that not only fulfils expectations, but actually goes beyond it. So, buy it, kick back, pour that beer and enjoy ‘Power Up’ the way it was meant to be heard. Loud. Malcolm would be proud.