AC/DC – The Razors Edge (1990)

FrontCover1The Razors Edge is an album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC. It was the band’s eleventh internationally released studio album and the twelfth to be released in Australia. It was a major comeback for the band, featuring the hits “Thunderstruck” and “Are You Ready”, which reached #5 and #16 respectively on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, and “Moneytalks”, which peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album went multi-platinum (5 million copies sold) and reached the US top ten. The album reached #2 on the US Billboard 200 and #4 in the UK, a smash commercial success that returned the band to the popularity of its glory years of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The album has been certified 5x platinum (5 million copies sold) in the US, and was re-released in 2003 as part of the AC/DC Remasters series. The album was produced by Bruce Fairbairn.

The Razors Edge was recorded at Windmill Road Studios in Dublin, Ireland and Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and was mixed and engineered by Mike Fraser and produced by Bruce Fairbairn, who had previously worked with Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. According to the book AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, George Young was involved early on but had to bow out because of personal issues. Lead singer Brian Johnson was unavailable for several months while finalising his divorce, so the Young brothers wrote all the songs for the next album, a practice they continued for all subsequent releases (In a 1995 interview, Johnson told Guitar World that he was relieved at not having to deal with the pressure of writing the lyrics anymore).

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The instantly recognizable opening riff to “Thunderstruck” features Young alternating between fretted notes and playing the open string. In a 1993 interview with Guitar World’s Alan Di Perna, the guitarist recalls, “I was just fiddling with my left hand when I came up with that riff; I played it more by accident than anything. I thought, ‘not bad,’ and put it on a tape. That’s how me and Malcolm generally work. We put our ideas down on tape and play them for one another.” He expanded in greater detail in the liner notes of the 2003 re-release of The Razor’s Edge:

It started off from a little trick I had on guitar. I played it to Mal and he said ‘Oh, I’ve got a good rhythm idea that will sit well in the back.’ We built the song up from that. We fiddled about with it for a few months before everything fell into place. Lyrically, it was really just a case of finding a good title…We came up with this thunder thing and it seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC = Power. That’s the basic idea.”

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“Moneytalks” is also one of AC/DC’s biggest hits, breaking the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, the UK Singles Charts, and the Australian ARIA Singles Chart. It is still the band’s highest charting single in the United States, at number 23 (no other AC/DC single has even cracked the top 30). During their subsequent world tour, thousands of “Angus Bucks” were dropped on the audience during the song. A music video of the song, directed by David Mallet, was also released, featuring a live performance during the tour. Author Murray Engleheart states in his band memoir AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll: “On songs like ‘Mistress for Christmas’ and “Moneytalks,’ Malcolm and Angus showed their working-class roots, despite multi-millionaire selling albums, by taking aim at the high flyers in the business world.”

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In a February 1991 interview with Guitar World Angus Young stated, “I think the funniest song on this album is ‘Mistress For Christmas.’ That song’s about Donald Trump. He was big news at the time, so we thought we’d have a bit of fun and humor with it.” In the same interview, he declared that his best guitar solo on the LP was on the song “The Razors Edge,” which also features a rare foray into finger picking. Although AC/DC had always remained apolitical when it came to their music, the title track was a commentary of sorts, with Young explaining to Muchmusic in 1992:

“The Razors Edge” comes from an old saying farmers used to use in Britain where you’d have a fine sunny day, you know, a very good day with a hot sun, and then all of a sudden right in the distance you could see these black clouds coming over the horizon, an ominous thing…I thought it was a great title. The world was at peace again and everyone thought, “Ah, the Berlin Wall’s come down and it’s all gonna be fun and games, a party every night,” and you can see now that it’s not that way. It’s just our way of saying the world’s not perfect and never will be. (by wikipedia)

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Although AC/DC’s popularity had decreased by the early ’90s, the band still had a lot of life left in it. Arguably the Australian headbangers’ strongest album in over half a decade, The Razor’s Edge is quintessential AC/DC — rowdy, abrasive, unapologetically fun metal full of blistering power chords, memorable hooks, and testosterone-driven lyrics. Lead singer Brian Johnson sounds more inspired than he had since 1983’s Flick of the Switch, and lead guitarist Angus Young isn’t about to take any prisoners on such hard-hitting material as “Shot of Love,” the menacing title song, and the appropriately titled “Got You By the Balls.” Although not quite in a class with Back in Black, Highway to Hell, or Let There Be Rock — all of which would, for novices, serve as fine introductions to the distinctive band — The RazoYear Of Recording: 1990r’s Edge was a welcome addition to AC/DC’s catalog. (by Alex Henderson)

The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Telecast

Personnel:
Brian Johnson (vocals)
Chris Slade (drums, percussion)
Cliff Williams (bass, background vocals)
Angus Young (lead guitar)
Malcolm Young (guitar, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Thunderstruck 4.52
02. Fire Your Guns 2.53
03. Moneytalks 3:48
04. The Razors Edge 4.22
05. Mistress For Christmas 3.59
06. Rock Your Heart Out 4.06
07. Are You Ready 4.10
08. Got You By The Balls 4:30
09. Shot Of Love 3.56
10. Let’s Make It 3.32
11. Goodbye & Good Riddance To Bad Luck 3.13
12. If You Dare 3.08

All songs written by Angus Young and Malcolm Young

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AC/DC – Festival Hall Melbourne (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgIt was in September 1974 when the legend that was Bon Scott joined the then still wet behind the ears AC/DC, formed the year before by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young in Melbourne, Australia. Over the next five and a half years, Scott fronted the band and, in tandem with the Youngs, established the group as arguably the finest rock act in the world. Bon’s tragic passing in the early months of 1980 only served to strengthen AC/DC’s fan base and appeal and across the next 35 or so years (and counting!) with perennial new boy Brian Johnson having taken on Bon Scott’s role with both aplomb and dignity, AC/DC have gone from strength to strength to strength.
But the Bon Scott years remain those that most adherents of the group remember most fondly and it is with this in mind that this live recording of one of his earliest shows with AC/DC is presented here
In November 1974, Michael Browning, manager of the Hard Rock Cafe (Melbourne), became AC/DC’s full time manager. Together they all moved into a house in Melbourne where there was apparent nightly debauchery. Nevertheless, though the band clearly knew how to party, especially with Bon now on board, they could also work hard and fast. Within ten days the group had recorded their first album, which they named High Voltage. This was undoubtedly influenced by the AC/DC name itself and was perhaps a discreet assertion that the name represented power and energy as opposed to sexual preferences. It also covered the base of the music, which was somewhat lo-fi, straight to the point good time rock n’ roll with an added kick; the verve of youth and the unmistakable howl of Bon Scott.

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AC/DC, 1974
George Young and Harry Vanda manned the controls behind the production desk whilst George played bass himself on some songs. Session musician Tony Currenti was enlisted to finish the drum parts as Peter Clack and John Proud had only played on one track each. The band now had a real record to stand behind and after a tour of South Australia finished the year off in style with a New Year’s Eve gig at Festival Hall in Melbourne. By their own admission they would pretty much play in front of anyone, and often did. Every type of fan could be seen at an AC/DC show, from gays who assumed they were named for a different reason, to typical girl groupies and the standard male rockers – this was an act that could transcend boundaries. The High Voltage record was to set them well on their way down the road to glory. [extract from AC/DC – Two Sides To Every Glory, by Paul Stenning, Chrome Dreams Publishers, 2005. p49]

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AC/DC, 1975

Thanks to heavy attention from the police, by the time AC/DC set up base in Melbourne the roaming hordes of Sharps had largely, though not entirely, died down; but a toughness of spirit and attitude in the city’s audiences remained. Melbourne’s character was what AC/DC were all about: Michael Browning was dead right.
Their reputation for high-energy performances preceded them thanks to a major New Year’s Eve show at Melbourne’s Festival Hall, and more notoriously, an incident at Prahran’s Station Hotel, when Angus took exception to someone clearly unmoved by the band’s performance.

Malcolm: ‘Angus jumped out into the crowd and he ran up to this guy, grabbed his beer and poured it on his head. This guy had really fuzzy hair and it formed a puddle on top first and then slowly fucking rolled over his face. I thought, this guy’s going to kill Angus! He didn’t. He just sat there and took it. He felt so embarrassed. I thought at that time Angus had overdone it, but the place loved it. This guy that had the beer poured over his head became a bit of a cult hero!’

Browning’s next move was to sign the band to a deal with agent Bill Joseph, who handled a number of major venues in Melbourne. A six-month contract with Joseph’s Premier Artists agency provided each member with a wage of $60 a week, and covered the cost of their sound system and repairs to their tour bus, a huge beast of a thing formerly owned by Ansett Airlines.[extract from Ac/DC – Maximum Rock & Roll, by Murray Engleheart & Arnard Durieux, Harper Collins Publishers, 2006. p98]

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So weird hearing the “Dave” arrangement of Can I Sit Next To You Girl with Bon’s voice.
Notice that Malcolm alternates solos with his Brother during Soul Stripper and Show Business. It also happened in the launceston boot, but in this one (melbourne) we can hear it more clearly. In the BBC boot (1976), we realize that malcolm has already leaved his guitar solo roll.

Pretty weird drumming on the songs, but intersting to hear Mal and Ang trading solos on Soul Stripper, otherwise no great shakes.

That was the first time at a show I encountered religious picketers who were handing out pamphlets about the devil and rock music , some people were giving them a real hard time.

Definitely a show for all diehards to have in their file.

This concert was recorded by Melbourne radio station 2SM.
Excellent soundboard recording !

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Personnel:
Rob Bailey (bass)
Peter Clack (drums)
Singer: Bon Scott (vocals)
Angus Young (lead guitar)
Rhythm Guitar: Malcolm Young (guitar)

Tracklist:
01. She’s Got Balls (M.Young/A.Young/Scott) 7.07
02. Soul Stripper (M.Young/A.Young) 4.15
03. Show Business (M.Young/A,Young/Scott) 4.27
04. Can I Sit Next to You Girl? (M.Young/A.Young) 3.38
05. Baby Please Don’t Go (Broonzy) 11.02

AC/DC – High Voltage (Australia editon) (1975)

frontcover1High Voltage is the debut studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC, released only in Australia, on 17 February 1975.

In November 1973, guitarists Malcolm Young and Angus Young formed AC/DC and recruited bassist Larry Van Kriedt, vocalist Dave Evans, and Colin Burgess, ex-Masters Apprentices drummer. Soon the Young brothers decided that Evans was not a suitable frontman for the group; they felt he was more of a glam rocker like Gary Glitter. The band had recorded only one single with Evans, “Can I Sit Next To You, Girl”, with “Rockin’ in the Parlour” as the B-side. In September 1974, Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott, an experienced vocalist and friend of producer George Young, replaced Dave Evans[2] after friend Vince Lovegrove recommended him. The addition of Scott redefined the band; like the Young brothers, Scott had been born in Scotland before emigrating to Australia in his childhood, and loved rock and roll, especially Little Richard. Scott had played in the Valentines and Fraternity. In a 2010 interview with Mojo’s Sylvie Simmons, Angus Young recalled that Scott “moulded the character of AC/DC…Everything became more down to earth and straight ahead. That’s when we became a band.”

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The album was produced by Vanda & Young at Albert Studios in Sydney, Australia. George Young is the older brother of Angus and Malcolm, and also plays bass guitar on a number of the album’s songs. Harry Vanda was a bandmate of George’s in The Easybeats, and the pair were the main songwriters of the band’s later hits, including their international smash “Friday on My Mind”. When George Young heard what his younger siblings were up to, he was quite impressed, telling VH1’s Behind the Music in 2000, “All of a sudden the kid brothers were still the kid brothers…but my God, they knew how to play. There was no sort of, ‘Do they have it or don’t they have it?’ It was obvious that they had something.” AC/DC was still developing its sound when High Voltage was recorded in November 1974, and singer Bon Scott and the Young brothers were backed by a different rhythm section than the Mark Evans/Phil Rudd combination featured on their next three full-length studio recordings. Rob Bailey and Peter Clack were the band’s bassist and drummer, respectively, at the time. According to Murray Engleheart’s book AC/DC: Maximum Rock N Roll, bass duties were shared by Malcolm and older brother George, who also played live with the band infrequently, as well as Bailey.

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Bon Scott & Angus Young during AC/DC’s free concert at Victoria Park, Sydney 1975

Clack played drums on “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, and the rest of the tracks were recorded by Tony Currenti. AC/DC biographer Jesse Fink laments Currenti’s lack of recognition, noting that his name “doesn’t bob up anywhere on the Australian or international releases of High Voltage, TNT, ’74 Jailbreak, Backtracks or any other releases on which his playing may or may not have appeared.” Malcolm and Angus traded-off lead guitar parts on “Soul Stripper” and “Show Business,” and Malcolm played the solo on “Little Lover.” In the book Highway to Hell: The Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, author Clinton Walker quotes Angus Young: “It was actually recorded in ten days in between gigs, working through the night after we came off stage and then through the day. I suppose it was fun at the time, but there was no thought put into it.”

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While the songs on High Voltage showcase a glam rock influence that the band would soon discard in favor of a more ear-splitting hard rock sound, the foundation for the band’s songwriting structures are clearly evident. As Angus told Benjamin Smith of VH1 in 2014, “I think the ‘60s was a great time for music, especially for rock and roll. It was the era of The Beatles, of the Stones, and then later on The Who and Led Zeppelin. But at one point in the ‘70s it just kind of became…mellow. When Malcolm put the band together, it was obvious what was missing at the time: another great rock band. So it was basically a reaction to that, because the music at that point had just turned into that soft, melodic kind of period, and that seemed to be all over the world. For us, it was a pretty easy choice, especially because Malcolm and myself – we’re two guitarists – so from the get-go, it was going to be a guitar band.” Six of its eight songs were written by the Young brothers and Scott, with “Soul Stripper” being credited to the Young brothers alone. “Soul Stripper” evolved from an older song called “Sunset Strip”, written by Malcolm and the band’s original singer Dave Evans, revamped for the album with new lyrics by Scott, and is similar in theme and structure to “Squealer,” a song that would be included on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in 1976. “Baby, Please Don’t Go” is a cover version of a Big Joe Williams song and was chosen as the LP’s first single, leading to the first of many AC/DC appearances on Australia’s Countdown music program. The band’s earliest appearances included a now-legendary live performance of “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (featuring Scott dressed as a blonde schoolgirl) and a filmed performance of “Show Business.” “Love Song” evolved from an unrecorded song called “Fell in Love”, also written by Malcolm and Evans. This earlier version of the song had different lyrics, and the finished lyrics as heard on the album were added by Scott. In 1994, Bon Scott biographer Clinton Walker speculated that the uncharacteristically maudlin lyric to “Love Song” was likely a leftover from Scott’s previous band Fraternity. “Love Song” was released as the album’s first single (under the title “Love Song (Oh Jene)”) and was backed with “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, but radio preferred the flip. “She’s Got Balls” (about Scott’s ex-wife Irene) was the first song that Scott and the Young brothers put together, while “Little Lover” had been a song Malcolm Young had been tinkering with since he was about 14 and had been originally titled “Front Row Fantasies” (Scott, who wrote the song about Angus, mentions glam rock star Gary Glitter by name in the song)

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High Voltage was originally released on Albert Productions only in Australia, and has never been reissued by another label in this format. The international version of High Voltage, which was issued on Atlantic Records in 1976, has a different cover art and track listing, with only “She’s Got Balls” and “Little Lover” appearing overseas. “Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Soul Stripper”, “You Ain’t Got a Hold On Me” and “Show Business” were later released on ’74 Jailbreak in 1984. “Stick Around” (about Scott’s inability to hold onto a lover for more than one night) and “Love Song” have been released on Backtracks in 2009. The title and artwork were the suggestion of Chris Gilbey of Albert Productions. In the 1994 Scott biography Highway to Hell, Gilbey explains that he came up with the concept of “an electricity substation with a dog pissing against it. It’s so tame now, but back then we thought it was pretty revolutionary.”

AllMusic deems this version of AC/DC “a very young band who were still coming into their own at the time, and that process of self-discovery is what makes the original version of High Voltage both the most inconsistent and unique of all the Bon Scott albums.” (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Rob Bailey (bass)
Tony Currenti (drums)
Bon Scott (vocals)
Angus Young (guitar)
George Young (bass, guitar, background vocals)
Malcolm Young (guitar, background vocals)
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Peter Clack (drums on 01.)
Harry Vanda (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Baby, Please Don’t Go (Williams) 4.50
02. She’s Got Balls (A.Young/M.Young/Scott) 4.51
03. Little Lover(A.Young/M.Young/Scott) 5.37
04. Stick Around (A.Young/M.Young/Scott) 4.40
05. Soul Stripper (A.Young/M.Young) 6.25
06. You Ain’t Got A Hold On Me (A.Young/M.Young/Scott) 3.31
07. Love Song (A.Young/M.Young/Scott) 5.15
08. Show Business (A.Young/M.Young/Scott) 4.46

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