AC/DC, ‘Rock or Bust’ – Album Review
2014 has been a tough year for AC/DC with guitarist Malcolm Young’s health problems and drummer Phil Rudd’s legal woes. Young is battling dementia and had to step down, making ‘Rock or Bust’ the first ever AC/DC album without him. The new album still has two Youngs on guitar, with Stevie Young stepping in for his uncle Malcolm alongside his other uncle Angus.
AC/DC have overcome a lot of adversity in the past, including the death of vocalist Bon Scott in 1980, and have always persevered. That’s what they had to do without Malcolm Young on ‘Rock or Bust,’ their first record since 2008‘s ‘Black Ice.’ Just like they’ve always done, AC/DC deliver the goods.
You know exactly what you’re going to get with an AC/DC album, as the band never strays far from their successful template. That’s the case with ‘Rock or Bust,’ which has four different songs with the word ‘rock’ in the title. Their sound is straightforward, timeless and packed with hooks.
The album kicks off with the title track, a quintessential AC/DC song with bluesy riffs and a memorable chorus. It’s a great opener, starting with the lyrics, “We be a guitar band / We play across the land.” ‘Rock or Bust’ is destined to be a crowd favorite on their upcoming tour, fulfilling the song’s lyrics “We turn the amps up high / The crowd's gonna hit the sky.”
Even though he’s 67, singer Brian Johnson is perpetually young, singing about ‘Miss Adventure’ and ‘Sweet Candy.’ His distinctive voice still has plenty of power, he can nail the high notes when needed and it always sounds like he’s having a good time.
The 11 tracks fly by. Most are in three minute range, with the album clocking in at less than 40 minutes. It’s all killer, no filler, with quality songs like ‘Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder,‘ ‘Baptism By Fire’ and closer ‘Emission Control.’
Over the years AC/DC have made some of the most iconic and beloved albums in hard rock, such as ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ and ‘Highway to Hell’ in the ’70s and ‘Back in Black’ and ‘For Those About to Rock We Salute You’ in the ‘80s. They also had platinum albums in the ‘90s such as ‘The Razors Edge’ and ‘Ballbreaker,’ and continued that success into the ‘00s with ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ and ‘Black Ice,’ which has gone double platinum.
‘Rock or Bust’ is a worthy addition to AC/DC’s canon, attracting yet another generation of fans while satisfying those that have been along for the ride all these many years. The song ‘Stick Around’ was on their debut album, and nearly 40 years later AC/DC have managed to do just that, and are still rocking as hard as they ever have.
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