Errols Weekly Music Update.

October 24, 2008

CD Review: Black Ice – AC/DC

CD Review: “Black Ice” by AC/DC released on Monday Rocktober 20, 2008.

OK first off, yes I actually walked into Wal-Mart (I think for the second time ever) and made a bee line for the CD; ran to the cash register, paid and walked out in all of maybe four minutes. I know the rock and roll gods were shaking their heads in disappointment but what was I to do? It was rock and roll that brought me to the place I said I would never go to. Days later I still feel like I did something illegal but I had to have it. You see what music does to me? Oh so what about Black Ice, you say?

If you are a fan of The Simpsons, I seriously doubt that you are disappointed that Bart and his family have never aged over the past 20 plus years. Their consistency is probably one of the reasons on why the show has lasted this long. Same goes for the boys from Australia. If there is one word that describes this band it is consistent. If you look up this word, you will see words such as reliable, dependable and unswerving. Now think of AC/DC. You get the picture? Now I will say that there is some change in this album-I’m not talking like when Coke decided to change its formula (we all know they learned their lesson fast and immediately went back to its original ingredients) but I’d say just picture Maggie, (from the Simpsons), learning how to walk. You will hear Brian Johnson actually singing on this album, more melodic tunes and a slide guitar. (Imagine?). This is mixed in with the powerful chords and vigorous riffs as well as the distinguished snarls from Mr. Johnson. Now we all know that Angus Young and Brian Johnson typically receive all the attention in this band and I will not deny their contribution to this band. However, one can not refute the effort put forth by Malcolm Young (rhythm), Cliff Williams (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums). They are the oil in this engine called AC/DC and they keep the motor running.

Black Ice has fifteen songs and last about an hour’s time. I’ll take the review in thirds. The first third has four out of five songs that are really good. The album kicks off with “Rock and Roll Train” and I have to tell you this will not be the only song from this album that will receive radio play, so do not make the mistake of thinking this is it-because its not. The more I listen to this song, the more upset I get that I’m not going to see them live at the Garden next month. This song has all the qualities of what AC/DC is about but I can’t think of what else it sounds like, it sounds like Rock and Roll Train. I’m not so crazy about “Skies on Fire” but admit that it has a groovin’ beat that will have the head-bangers snapping their head, albeit at a slower pace for this song. “Big Jack” would be one of the best selling singles from this album if AC/DC allowed their music to be downloaded from I-Tunes. This is an upbeat head boppin’ tune that will have you dancing all over your living room floor. Perfect boot camp song. “Anything Goes” is the closet thing to pop that you will get with this band. This does not mean that it is not good, quite the contrary- this could be the best song on the album. Dare I say that Bruce Springsteen could cover this song and it would be a fit for him? It has all the ingredients for this to be their most popular song since “You Shook Me All Night Long.” The fifth track “War Machine” highlights the Young/Williams/Rudd connection that I mentioned above. They keep this song moving along as Brian yelps out “War Machine” and Angus takes you away with his high energetic solo. This is a close second to being the best track on the album. Total thumbs up for the first third of the album.

The second third of the album is also very good. “Smash & Grab” is a throw back to the early days of AC/DC, especially the background vocals which highlight this tune. “Spoiling for a Fight” is a bouncing ball of energy with a catchy hook. You will be singing the chorus all day long. Follow along with Rudd’s drumming and you will hear him crash the cymbals more than a few times.Track # 8 “Wheels” is another brisk song that will appeal to the die hard fan. Again these songs have the same formula but yet at the same time are different; you have to listen to know what I mean. I think “Decibel” is my favorite track of the album. It has a slow grooving beat that makes me just want to crank up the volume. Angus solo is real impressive and Johnson’s vocals are spot on. Track # 10 “Stormy May Day” sort of reminds me of something that Led Zeppelin would perform. Listen to the opening riffs and tell me Page couldn’t play along with this song. And Johnson does his best Plant impression. (Though his pitch is a little high on “May”). This song has the slide guitar I mentioned above.

The last third of the album still has some killer and not just filler. “She Likes Rock and Roll”, “Money Made” and “Black Ice” are the killers and “Rock and Roll Dream” and “Rocking All the Way” may be the fillers on this album. “She Likes Rock & Roll” has a funky groove with a catchy chorus along with a nice solo from Angus. Does this man know how to rock hard or what? What I like best is when Angus and Mr. Rudd play side by side as you bounce your head up and down. “Money Made” is a bluesy hand clapping song that will be played at a local pub near you. “Rock and Roll Dream” is a song that starts off slowly, picks up, falls back and then picks up again. The more you listen, the more it will grow on you. “Rocking All the Way” highlights Brian singing melodically with another scorching solo by Angus. “Black Ice” is a tight compact song that ends this CD nicely.

Could this album have been condensed and then be considered an instant classic? Most likely the answer is yes. However, this album overall is impressive and as mentioned there are some changes, albeit small steps. I agree with the boys on their position that their music needs to be sold and listened to on an album basis. This album is a must have for the die-hard AC/DC fans and I will tell the “occasional” fan that this album is for you too. The more you listen to it, the more you will love it. There are not too many things that stay the same in life but I know there are a lot of people who don’t like change (I know, I’m one of them but I have been able to adapt) and this band has not changed. Their upcoming tour has been selling out in minutes, rather than in hours. If you have never been to an AC/DC show, you are truly missing out. The anticipation before they hit the stage is a force that you’ve never felt before and once they blast onto the stage; well lets just say that it’s a good time had by all. They rock! They roll! Like the old saying goes- “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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