Album review: AC/DC, Black Ice (2008)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 30, 2008

By Steve Newton

AC/DC has it rough. Ever since the Aussie quintet came roaring back from the tragic death of Bon Scott with Back in Black, picky buggers like me have wanted them to match the consistent quality of that 1980 ear buster. There was a lot of hope among die-hard fans that the Vancouver-made Black Ice—AC/DC’s first studio album in eight years—would be the one to rekindle the spirit of those glory years. No such luck.

The band’s meat ‘n’ potatoes blues-metal raunch is a welcome noise these days, but overall the tunes aren’t that memorable. At first, leadoff single “Rock and Roll Train” seems able to revive that electrifying AC/DC vibe, but then along comes a contrived-sounding sing-along chorus.

Far worse in that regard is “Anything Goes”, which sees the rough ‘n’ tumble outfit edging toward bouncy, commercial pop. “Oooo, there she goes, she goes,” croons Brian Johnson, “and nobody knows, where she goes she goes.” C’mon, dude, now ain’t the time to wimp out. When it comes to expressing matters of the heart in headbanger mode, you already said it best with “Let Me Put My Love Into You”.

Song titles like “Rock N Roll Dream”, “Rocking All the Way”, and “She Likes to Rock N Roll” make it clear that AC/DC’s at a loss for new ideas—but that’s always been its greatest strength! All the band needs to get that foolproof system up and running again is for Angus Young to find some catchier riffs and speed things up a bit.

The secret to AC/DC’s future success lies in resurrecting the straight-ahead boogie of Back in Black tracks like “Shoot to Thrill”, “Shake a Leg”, and “Givin’ the Dog a Bone”. Where’s “Mutt” Lange when you need him?

To hear the full audio of my interview with AC/DC’s Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson from 1983 subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 250 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with musicians that I’ve compiled since 1982.

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