AC/DC – High Voltage (1976)
I bought this album about five years ago, after buying “Back In Black” and being so impressed that I decided to delve further into the Aussie rockers’ back catalogue. “High Voltage”, their international début album comprised of highlights from their first two 1975 Australian albums (“High Voltage” and “T.N.T.”), lives up to its name, with the album being comprised mainly of high octane, hard-riffing rock classics. There are many AC/DC fans who consider this their finest moment and it’s not difficult to understand why as there are more than a handful of excellent tracks. “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” is a fantastic album opener, resplendent with a great riff and one of the best uses of bagpipes in rock music. “The Jack” is an enjoyable chugging, bluesy number using a card game as a euphemism for VD, “Can I Sit Next To You Girl” reminds me of Status Quo at their seventies hard rock peak and “High Voltage” itself finishes the album with a catchy, up-tempo anthem.
As far as I’m concerned, although many people seem to focus on the raw, powerful vocals of the late Bon Scott, the star of the show is Angus Young. The main appeal of AC/DC, for me, lies with the scintillating solos and the tidy, economical riffs (“Little Lover” is a great example), all held together by the powerful, meaty chords of rhythm guitarist brother, Malcolm. They’re a great musical unit altogether though, with Mark Evans’ chunky basslines and Phil Rudd’s relentless drumming providing the solid backbone of the band. If there is one criticism to be made, it’s that this music is a little one dimensional, very straight forward “meat and potatoes” rock, but it’s executed with such clumsy charm, wit and skill that it’s difficult not to enjoy it for what it is, an uncomplicated, likeable, hard blues-rock album that captures the band sounding exactly like they would if you went to see them live. They didn’t get much better than this.