Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm Covered In Bees!!!!

In tribute to yet another genius we have lost to the Americans, this is a smallish taste of that mascara wearing, fish net legged, basque strutting comic delight we call Eddie Izzard....

Ed - get on the next place home - we miss you.

For Those About To Rock....

Clutching at a semi decent rock straws is one of those things that this country has been fairly good at over the years. Only perhaps do we have the likes of Def Leppard and Iron Maiden still in our sights, or at least in the back of our minds at one point or another, but if we were to delve deeper into the historic vaults of rock music then we would find, still, on giant golden thrones in the middle of a pile of guitars and babes, there would be AC/DC.

In perhaps the greatest epitome of British hard rock was the cluster of dirty, miserable, hairy truck driver looking guys from Glasgow who, after a short time on Scottish turf descended upon an unsuspecting Australia to make their fame and fortune. Luckily for the metal starved English youth, it wasn’t long before the came back again. Half Oz and half Scot, we still claimed them as our own. (The Bee Gees went and we got AC/DC back, to me, that was a fair swap.)

Rearing their unwashed heads through the punk sodden crowds in London was a brave feat to achieve in 1976. Since Oz had given them their free rocking, grit eating, humorous attitude, London and it’s suburbs hadn’t got a clue what was about to hit them. Up until then, the public had been pampered by rock and prog rock bands whose names came in threes, usually surnames, strung together to sound sturdy and a force to be reckoned with. With AC/DC, suddenly beer, a front man in school boy uniform, filthy hands and saucy lyrics were dished out to the man in the street on a mammoth sliver platter…

Unfortunately, most would comment that take away the dirt and the lyrics and your left with The Krankees….Somehow the idea of little ‘Jimmy Krankee’ releasing an album such as ‘For Those About To Rock,’ leaves a taste in the mouth not dissimilar to lemon curd…

Spitting in the face of up tight, white collared commercialism, this album’s initial release in November 1981 was taken with a pinch of salt by the press and adored by the growing AC/DC fan base. Seen today as the typical rock anthemed album (whatever that’s supposed to mean) it captures a mood amongst the younger metal plated generation rather like Spinal Tap cloaked the business of failing old rocker comebacks. Settled into life without Bon Scott after the blacker than black rock tribute of July 1980’s ‘Back In Black,’ they were finding their feet at last ,and the scuffed trainers of traditional metal bands fitted them comfortably.

Shortening the track lie up down to ten tracks, this album certainly pointed the rest of the following bands in the right direction. Produced again by the master, John ‘Mutt’ Lange who eventually gave us Def Leppard, this album was perfectly tighter than a Gnat’s arse. Hitting only the number 3 spot in the album charts in the same year (‘Back In Black’ had been number 1) it was proving to the band that the buying public were not just interested in reading between the lyrics of a band missing one member to a drunken binge.

To sum up any AC/DC album, one normally only has to focus on one track per album. Like a lot of rock bands around at that time, the emphasis was always on one particular track to ‘sell’ an LP. Obviously, the title of the first track and album, ‘For Those About To Rock,’ doesn’t need much of an imagination work out for the listener to conger up some idea as to what the album is all about. With opening short, yet mind burning guitar riffs and the lines, ‘..stand up and be counted for what you are about to receive..’ along with just the wail of that strangled vocal will be enough to set a steady bang of the head moving. Yet the pinnacle of this track is the cannon effects ignited with Johnson’s screams of ‘Fire,’ leaves one thing left to be said about this track; if we ever have to stand, as a country, civilians and all, face to face with an enemy again, I want AC/DC to be standing in front of me, amps connected and clad in Harley Davidson tee shirts with mic’s in hand. Then, I’d feel safe.

After the militaries of the opening track and it’s ‘off to war’ approach that this band create so well, we are lead into an album complete with ‘Hells Bells’ styled humour and dare I say it, ‘danceable’ rock. ‘I Put The Finger On You,’ is AC/DC at their up tempo best, although forget to try and compete with Johnson’s vocals that, are similar to a cockerel being savagely murdered in the middle of night after a 60-a-day habit. One is for sure, you will find throughout this album that as usual, AC/DC never end a track half heartedly. Each is given the full crescendo works in true rock style. Even with the bluesy ‘Inject The Venom,’ Johnson gives a unique performance of unaccompanied rolls up and down the scales with ease with lines like ‘ mercy for the bad is they want it…’ (I won’t argue with that) It proved and still does, that even though they were a metal, hard rock band, they were not shy of turning their hands to other genres and turning them into their own creations. It will by the titles of these tracks that will make you smile. They were, it must be said, were the only band that got away with writing titles such as ‘Let’s Get It Up.‘ They just don’t write stuff like this anymore…

Perhaps the trashiest track on the album is ‘Snowballed,’ and let’s face it, if there are any devotees to their music out there, you will not have to reminded that AC/DC could work wonders with any title cantered around the word, ‘balls.’ Throwing up and around the metronome, they were never suckers for keeping the same rhythm throughout at track. Forever leaving the listener dangling from the great height of a riff, they were inclined to drop you from that great height, not waiting a moment for you to get up off the floor. So at least when tracks like ‘Evil Walks,’ rolls around, you feel for a moment that your soul has been saved. Perhaps not the most eventful card of the pack, this track will no doubt have you reaching for the kettle, although the momentum is taken down a notch them guided back up again to make sure you’re still breathing, this track shouldn’t be cast off into the ‘mediocre box.’ It will just give you a minute to flick through the live shots in the inner sleeve, but be careful, the pictures are so ‘live’ the sweat may even catch you in the eye; photos that you could even smell from here…

‘C.O.D’ and ‘Breaking The Rules,’ will no doubt give you all you need to know about the sturdiness of the juggernaught we loving know as AC/DC. Just remember to turn the bass down on your system unless you have likeminded neighbours. It is these tracks minted with bluesy breaks and tightly knitted backing vocals and back breaking drums, you could almost believe that they are using the back of a 16 wheeler as a bass drum. Rock music doesn’t get much powerful than this.

On the close of this extreme voltage album, the last two tracks hardly wind down the theme at all, but when would you expect a rock album to? The misbeated, thunderous ‘Night Of The Long Knives’ and the finger clicking, thoughtful ‘Spellbound’ takes us on a haunting journey back to the days of Bon Scott. That rambling, truck driver feel is echoed particularly through this last track, it is almost a brief, yet subtle tribute to the missing member.

Although they, unlike Def Leppard, hardly ever had a ‘hit’ they still have left huge dents in out minds over the last thirty or so years. Now the old men of metal, they still have an engaging appeal, only know their faces actually do look that miserable and twisted naturally. However, there is still something to be said that each album has appeared back on our record shop shelves re mastered, re packaged and just as enticing. Since it’s release in 1981, this album was sent back, in 2003, brushed up and polished to the shops to take pride of place in the ‘metal/rock’ section yet again.

It all sounds just as good as it did then.

For Those About To Rock,’ 1981

Tracks include;

For Those About To Rock
I Put The Finger On You
Let’s Get It Up
Inject The Venom
Evil Walks
Breaking The Rules
Night Of The Long Knives

Brian Johnson - vocals
Angus Young - guitar
Malcolm Young - guitar
Mark Evans - bass
Phil Rudd - drums
©mduffy 2007