Thursday, 19 November 2009
CD Review: Highway to Hell, by AC/DC (1979)
As a final statement from vocalist Bon Scott before he overdosed, Highway to Hell the album and Highway to Hell the song could hardly be any more appropriate. Squealing his way through the 10 tracks of the CD, running through a non-stop narrative about partying, girls, sex, and the threat of violence, combining passion with anguish in his vocals and often reaching feverish emotional peaks towards the end of the songs, Scott lived the life he wanted and reached the end of his highway quickly.
As for the CD itself, it can neatly be divided into two parts: the first 5 tracks are all among the most entertaining meat-and-potatoes rock'n'roll heavy metal tracks of the late 1970's: Crunchy riffs, classic yet simple melodies, simpler lyrics, basic and beefy. Angus Young's rocking, blues- inspired metal guitar drives the music forward at the expense of all others; and only Scott's anguished high pitch is able to compete. For all their impact, the drums and bass are effectively anonymous. Given what Angus can do with a guitar, none of this is a bad thing.
Highway to Hell is only the most famous of the anthems at the front end of this album. Girls Got Rhythm, Walk All Over You, Touch Too Much and Beating Around The Bush all became an essential part of the soundtrack accompanying teen life.
In contrast, four of the final five tracks barely register above the level of filler material. Repetitive, relatively uninspired, and generally forgettable. But the band do pull a rabbit out of the hat right at the end with the slow, deliberate, and powerful Night Prowler -- a reminder that AC/DC do have more than one gear. It's an excellent end to the CD, and an appropriate finale from Scott.
Angus Young - Guitar
Malcolm Young - Guitar
Bon Scott - Vocals
Phil Rudd - Drums
Cliff Williams - Bass
Songlist (rating out of 10):
1. Highway to Hell - 10
2. Girls Got Rhythm - 8
3. Walk All Over You - 9
4. Touch Too Much - 9
5. Beating Around The Bush - 8
6. Shot Down In Flames - 7
7. Get It Hot - 6
8. If You Want Blood (You've Got It) - 6
9. Love Hungry Man - 6
10. Night Prowler - 10.
Produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange.
Engineered by Mark Dearney. Mixed by Tony Platt.
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