Tuesday, January 27, 2009

High Voltage Review

High Voltage (1976) Review

AC/DC’s first international album, High Voltage, was not well received by music critics when released in 1976. Rolling Stone even called it an “all-time low” in the hard rock genre. However, this album was the starting point for AC/DC, one of the greatest rock bands of all time, so it can’t be all bad. Before High Voltage was released internationally, AC/DC had already recorded two albums in Australia, a different “High Voltage” and “T.N.T”. However, our “High Voltage “ only shares two of its nine tracks with the original. Basically what we got was “T.N.T”. with a little “High Voltage” thrown in.

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) is the rousing album opener.  Featuring a fantastic riff that would be the basis of many more guitar licks to come, this song is pure classic.  It’s A Long Way is really the only time I can stand bagpipes.  Next up is Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer.  It’s nothing fancy, but it does what it needs to do and does it well.  The Jack features some of Bon Scott’s best lyrics, comparing a card game to a venereal disease.  Combined with a great, bluesy guitar riff, The Jack makes for one of the best numbers on the album.  Starting out with a pounding bassline, Live Wire builds up the tension nicely.  It’s no wonder why it was used as a concert opener in the early days.  T.N.T. is the AC/DC song every knows.  Malcom Young pounds out one of the greatest riffs of all time while Bon Scott screeches his heart out.  Can I Sit Next To You Girl has that excellent 50’s rock ‘n’ roll style to it that almost warps you back in time.  After several fantastic songs, we reach the low point of the album, Little Lover and She’s Got Balls.  I love bluesy songs, but these two are just so boring I can barely stand to listen to them.  The only redeeming factor is the jokes about balls in the latter.  Disheartened by the last two snore fests, I was really hoping the album would end on a high note.  High Voltage fits the bill.  With a great riff and a cool gang chorus, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better closing number.  Simply brilliant.

High Points

  • It’s A Long Way To The Top, The Jack, T.N.T., High Voltage
  • Great start for a great band

Low Points

  • Little Lover, She’s Got Balls
  • Not enough original “High Voltage” songs

Bottom Line

“High Voltage” was a solid start for AC/DC, providing three classic songs (The Jack, T.N.T., and High Voltage), two if which are still performed at AC/DC concerts today, thirty three years after the album’s release.

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