AC/DC – Rock Or Bust

AC/DC - Rock Or Bust

Chart Position #3

Track List:
01. Rock Or Bust
02. Play Ball
03. Rock The Blues Away
04. Miss Adventure
05. Dogs Of War
06. Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
07. Hard Times
08. Baptism By Fire
09. Rock The House
10. Sweet Candy
11. Emission Control

Band Members:
Brian Johnson – vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar
Stevie Young – rhythm guitar
Cliff Williams – bass
Phil Rudd – drums

Produced by Brendan O’Brien. Engineered by Mike Fraser.

Does the world really need another AC/DC review? If you’re reading this, and after fifteen studio albums (internationally), you should have a pretty good idea what these Aussies sound like — and if you’re unfamiliar with the living legends you have obviously stumbled upon the wrong website.

While Rock Or Bust offers nothing new in terms of innovation (and who expected it to?) it eclipses their previous release Black Ice mainly because it doesn’t overstay its welcome like the predecessor did. It’s obvious AC/DC are getting long in the tooth, and while Rock Or Bust often lumbers along like a dinosaur trying in vain to avoid extinction, the aging rockers aren’t fossilized yet! The problem I have listening to AC/DC in the 21st century is that they’ve been eclipsed by the very musicians they influenced. You can blame/thank the Airbournes of the world for taking the AC/DC blueprint to new plateaus in both aggression and speed — while the originals themselves stick to their time tested formula. Think of it like this, when AC/DC were propelling to stardom Superman and Logan’s Run were winning Academy Awards for special effects, yet the visuals contained in both movies pale when compared to the technical advances available to current filmmakers.

However, just when you want to write AC/DC off as influential veterans of a time long passed, they drop a track that restores one’s faith in their future. Rock Or Bust includes a few of these gems, namely the title track, with its Flick Of The Switch era riffing, the lead-off single “Play Ball”, the heavy “Dogs Of War” and the rambunctious thumping of “Baptism By Fire”. Then again, for every song that jumps out of the speakers there is one that simply plods along — such as “Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder”, which is more like a slight drizzle during an overcast day. None of these hiccups tarnish the AC/DC legacy, but they don’t instill images of grandeur either. And for those worried that the loss of Malcolm Young, the vibrating guitarist who is sadly suffering from dementia, would be the death of AC/DC can sleep comfortably knowing nephew Stevie Young has fit perfectly within his shoes.

I think what is missing from AC/DC these days is the hunger that younger bands possess — and really, where is the desire to claw your way to the top when you’re already perched upon the mountain? Time moves on, but AC/DC seem content to remain a rotary dial telephone in an era of smart-phones. There is nothing wrong with that approach, because Rock Or Bust is probably only being used as a tool to promote their upcoming tour anyway. Having said that, I wonder how many of the songs contained here will become live staples in the future? Let’s face it, at this stage of their career AC/DC is pure nostalgia, but after years of shaking foundations the base is starting to show a few cracks.

Reviewed by Skid for Sleaze Roxx, December 2014

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