Another of the most formative bands in my life makes their debut in the blog today, with the first internationally released album from AC/DC, “High Voltage”. At the heart of this band were the Young brothers, with Angus on lead guitar, and Malcolm on the equally essential rhythm guitar, and their own outrageous lead singer, Bon Scott. Although some listeners and critics wanted to lump AC/DC in with the punk rock movement, it was a much more basic and simple rock and roll sound, just a bit louder and rougher than their predecessors. It has been said that AC/DC has made an entire career playing the same three chords, and while that certainly is an oversimplification, more so than just about any long-living band I can think of, they have stayed true to their formula and sound, over the course of almost 50 years and many lineup shifts.
AC/DC was my first true rock concert, at McNichols Arena in Denver in the winter of 1982 with friends Mike and Nevin. I have always loved the raw purity of this band, and this first album is no exception. The first two songs, “It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”, and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer” most certainly use the exact same chords, but they both rock in a unique manner, with the first song featuring a heavy dose of bagpipes. (I’m pretty sure that is the first time I have mentioned bagpipes in this blog). AC/DC, who along with ZZ Top mastered the double entendre, gives us “The Jack”, a bluesy rocker that tells the story of an unfortunate sordid encounter with an experienced female through the dialect of a card game. Who says they weren’t always being creative?
Side two opens with a rocker that remains highly popular today, “T.N.T.”, and they keep us slightly uncomfortable, yet rocking at a driving pace, with “Can I Sit Next to You Girl”, “Little Lover”, and “She’s Got Balls”. The album concludes with the title track, and let there be no doubt, they live up to all of it as this is truly “High… Voltage… Rock ‘n’ Roll”.
In their earliest days, AC/DC were considered by many to be the next and newest lowest common denominator in rock ‘n’ roll. However, by remaining consistent in their approach and steady and strong with their content and performances, they have endured for so long and done so much they are regarded as hard rock royalty. There is much more to look forward to with this band, and in the late 1970s they provided a much-needed infusion of guitar rock as others were beginning to slip and struggle.