AC/DC – Powerage (1978)
I can’t actually remember buying this, although Amazon reliably tells me that it was June 2008. I know that I bought quite a few of their albums fairly close together after enjoying “Back In Black”, but this isn’t one I’ve played very often since then. I readily admit that listening to lots of AC/DC albums together as I did when I was discovering their material means that all their albums blend together quite nicely, meaning that, unless you’re a massive fan, it can be quite difficult to remember albums as individual entities and which song is on which album. I had that problem when approaching “Powerage”, but when I pressed play, the sound of familiarity and some excellent tracks I’d forgotten the names of began to hit me. Hardcore fans will probably read this with a mixture of amusement and horror, but it’s true – to a casual fan, most AC/DC albums do sound the same. It’s not the case that if you have one album you have them all, but if you listen to a seventies AC/DC album and enjoy it, chances are that if you buy another one, you’re just going to get more of the same… it’s lucky that “that same” is rather good. However, I think that opinion probably explains why my AC/DC collection is relatively small.
There’s no doubt about it, this is a fine album. It marked the début of current member Cliff Williams as bassist, so apart from Bon Scott having just gone through a divorce which surely fuelled the cynical nature of his lyrics, that’s the historical importance of this one. It has killer material all the way through it, all members are firing on all cylinders, Angus Young frequently amazes with his razor sharp playing and it’s difficult to really pick out weaker tracks, merely the ones which aren’t quite as brilliant as the genuine highlights. “Down Payment Blues”, for example, is fantastic, meaty chords from Malcolm, great solo and funny lyrics; an AC/DC classic. My personal favourite, “Riff Raff”, is a storming, fast-tempo track with a brilliant riff (slightly reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll”) which kicks off the track with purpose and, the moment you hear the introduction, you know it’s going to be memorable. Angus’ guitar solo is white hot too. My third and final pick from the album is the one which brings “Powerage” to its satisfying conclusion, “Kicked In The Teeth”, and, if any track personified Bon’s feelings after his divorce, it is that one. All-in-all, this is one of AC/DC’s best albums. If you like them, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you won’t. Pretty simple, really.