Let’s not piss about. You can debate this and argue that but certain things we hold to be self-evident and one of those things is that AC/DC are the fuckin’ greatest.
Chuck away everything ever broadly produced in the name of rock’n’roll except AC/DC and, I dunno, maybe James Brown and Muddy Waters, and you’ve still got all you’ll ever need when the only thing to get you through is one let-loose shot of leering stomp.
The ‘DC are elemental. Every other band in the world should bow before them. The ‘DC bring The Rock. All you really need to know at this point is that ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ is more of that good ol’ ‘DC stuff. ‘Highway To Hell’, ‘Back In Black’, ‘Let There Be Rock’, ‘Stiff Upper Lip’… their 17th album, business as usual, no ballsing about. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go out and buy it. Now.
If they were a lesser band, making music of a lesser magnitude, one might surmise that the ‘DC’s guiding career principle was: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But we’re talking about the ‘DC here – a band who shit riffs other bands can only dream of, a band with a sound as pure as science – so we must elevate that principle to take into account that we are discussing genius. So, just so you know, the correct way to address the question of all ‘DC sounding roughly the same is to react the way Keith Cameron so memorably did when the last ‘DC album, ‘Ballbreaker’, prowled forth from the office stereo some five years ago. The esteemed journo countered the saminess question raised by some upstart cub reporter with the disdain it deserved. He raised a quizzical eyebrow and snarled, “Why fuck with magic?”
Why indeed? That’s the thing with the ‘DC. They’re immovable. Every song is like architecture. And every song rocks absolutely because its sole purpose in existing is to… rock. Absolutely. There are no pretensions above, below or beyond that one single-minded, unashamed aim. To rock. Why the fuck would a rock band wanna do anything else? They never ask that question, by the way. They don’t have to. They just do it and it is we, listening to the stunning simplicity of ‘Stiff Upper Lip’, who are moved to wonder why on earth anyone would be daft enough to aim for anything else.
And you can take your self-parody and stick it up yer arse because the ‘DC’s power actually derives from their utter inevitability. You know what’s coming and, when it comes, it’s always great. Each song starts at the start. With a riff. An Angus riff. Cool. Clean. Heavy. It repeats and builds and then Brian comes in. He screeches. His voice is like a metal shrew. It is absurd. So are his words.”Picking up the sleaze in my car/Sucking up the juice in the bar…”. Words on a par with the last album’s mighty chorus, “Hard as a rock/Harder than a rock”, or the legendary, “She had the body of Venus with arms”and, “Knocking me out with her American thighs”!
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CD: Stiff Upper Lip
These are words of dumb beauty. Words created for the way they sound. Words of cartoon machismo. Words that prove they are kings of the leer. These words are the language of rock, noble words, the missing link back to the blues. They know no shame and they know no irony. They live for the double entendre. They are nudge-nudge Neanderthal. They crawl the kerb and cruise the bars. And they make us laugh out loud. Then the rest of the band crash in and go to work. Simon Wright drums like he’s building a shed. Then comes the solo. The Angus solo. So the guitar gets louder. Then Brian comes back in. Then there’s a crescendo like they’re all falling downstairs. Or fighting. Then it ends with a thud. Or a whack. Either way, it ends. For a second or two. Then the next one starts. ‘Meltdown’, ‘House Of Jazz’, ‘Hold Me Back’, ‘All Screwed Up’… Rock. Unabashed and unrelenting.
People once said that The Ramones were rock stripped down to its bare, brilliant essentials. Fuck me, The Ramones are like Emerson, Lake And Palmer compared to the ‘DC. If folks way back had accepted the fact that ‘DC ruled, there would have been no call for punk. You can’t pinch an inch on any of these songs. There’s no additives. No wastage. No fancy trimmings. No pianos or violins or concepts or anything progressive like that. Everything has been planed down, everything jettisoned that doesn’t just… rock.
I trust you get it by now. But just in case you’re totally thick, here’s a couple more things that should be self-evident: ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ would be a 10 out of 10 if it had cannons on it. And, hey, Angus, everyone else is now wearing shorts. What the fuck took them so long?
Rumour is the ‘DC are playing live in the UK this summer. Lock up yer mothers and bring on the rock. C’mon, let’s be ‘aving it.