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#1 pauliejay


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Posted 26 January 2004 - 07:38 PM

Submission courtesy of Paulie Jay

Band: AC/DC
Album: Powerage

Produced by Harry Vanda and George Young.
Engineered by Mark Opitz

Released 1978 on Albert Productions.
Recorded at Albert Studios, Sydney

Running Order
Side One
1. Rock ?N? Roll Damnation
2. Down Payment Blues
3. Gimmie A Bullet
4. Riff Raff
Side Two
5. Sin City
6. Next To The Moon
7. Gone Shootin?
8. Up To My Neck In You
9. Kicked In The Teeth
All songs written by Malcolm Young, Bon Scott and Angus Young.

All songs written by Malcolm Young, Bon Scott and Angus Young.

AC/DC's fifth album Powerage is a "tour de force" of 1970's fun and raucous guitar noise making. Released in 1978, Powerage finds the group at their strongest and most cocky. Bon Scott's lyrics and vocals are confident and witty, his delivery is one of a singer who has found his place in the world. The Young brothers guitar work is dynamic "Malcolm never tiring of pumping out those rhythms, Angus expanding on his trademark licks. Both guitarists are still hanging on to their blues roots at this stage" one reason why this album is a joy to listen to. New bassist Cliff Williams is now settled in after his "Let There Be Rock" introduction, while Phil Rudd is as tight as always.

Productionwise this is classic 70's AC/DC. Raw guitars flail away without the multi-tracking extravaganzas of future albums, while the bass is always there peeking through. It always sounded a bit more honest to me. The backup vocals as on all the early albums sound like a bunch of evil pixies hiding behind the amplifiers. Producers Harry Vanda and George Young are masters of pulling exciting performances out of bands in the studio. Virtually anyone who was anyone in the rock world in Australia in the 1970's felt the touch of Vanda and Young who were members of legendary Australian band The Easybeats. Engineer Mark Opitz later went on to produce major acts like, Inxs, Divinyls, Hoodoo Gurus and Cold Chisel.

Opening Powerage is the magnificent Rock "N" Roll Damnation a song that says so much about AC/DC. Based on a fairly standard blues riff played straight, the song rocks along with great momentum. The sassy vocals show plenty of cheek. "I've been waiting all night for a bite of what you got" (1:45), and by the time Angus Young shows up at 2:50 with some red hot tube amp grooving you'll be moving in your seat!

Down Payment Blues has one of those great "ain't got no money" type lyrics that only a vocalist with the honesty of someone like Bon Scott can pull off properly. A moody song that never really releases you from it's grip of tension, Down Payment Blues is in no hurry to get on with the story but somehow you don't mind the wait. When Bon Scott sings "can't even feed my cat" a knowing and rueful smile will creep across your face, and when he delivers the line "down payment blues" at 4:57 you will understand why singers like Scott are so hard to come by. No matter how well Brian Johnson can belt out a tune, he will never match the character of Scott in that one line. Release is granted at the end of the song with a great traditional blues chaser.

Next up is Gimmie A Bullet. Featuring a playful bass in the chorus and an insistent beat, this song borders on boogie and is a lot of fun. Again featuring Bon Scott's unique lyric style ("gimmie a bullet to bite on, something to chew") and illustrating his effortless nonchalance, Gimmie A Bullet is about as close to a dance song that AC/DC has written.

Continuing the momentum the first side of Powerage concludes with Riff Raff, a blistering and blues drenched number with an irresistible riff. This song literally explodes out of your speakers. It doesn't matter that the lyrics are fairly standard "don't mess with me" fare, the delivery and red hot guitars more than make up for it. Angus Young's first solo here is wild and masterfully mad. By the time he rips in at 3:36 your speakers will be literally melting (and if not, you haven't got it turned up loud enough) so hook up a new set and get set for side two!

After such a frantic side one, there must be some come down. Sin City doesn't try to compete in the outright power steaks, but instead offers a more relaxed pace. This is the type of song that AC/DC were attempting to emulate on Ball Breaker with less success. You can just about hear the live room in Angus Young's solo it's that kind of sonic difference that is missing from so many rock recordings these days.

Next To The Moon starts out all moody and threatening but never really gets anywhere. Not a dud as such, but probably the least successful song on the album.

"Gone Shootin?" features some nifty work in the main riff with both guitars working well together at different ends of the chord - Malcolm going low and Angus going high. Mid paced and fun, "Gone Shootin?" leads into the double assault of the album's conclusion.

Up To My Neck In You sets us up nicely with a great 70's style rock riff and wailing lead vocal. This is another in a long line of songs that can only be pulled off by a singer with the character of Bon Scott.

Ending Powerage is "Kicked In The Teeth" a blues song in spirit, the opening cry of pain and betrayal is just great. The band launch into the main riff (which has a rather worrying similarity to Let There Be Rock) and we?re off on a ride of hurt and hate!

So why is this album essential? It's a lesson in how to set up a track order of songs to the greatest effect. From the get go the album hits the ground running and never really loses pace. The songs are also of a consistent high quality with lots of tasty guitar work to be going on with. Production wise it's a masterpiece of getting a band into the studio and letting them rip although admittedly it could probably do with a slight remaster to round up the bottom end a little for today's listeners.

10 out of 10? You betcha!

#2 guitarfreak111



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Posted 26 January 2004 - 07:43 PM

Good review of a good album. Nice work. wink.gif

#3 brightonmike

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 12:07 PM

i agree

#4 SRVfan2004

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 03:06 PM

up to my neck in you is probably one of my fav ever ACDC songs

#5 Warnbesi

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Posted 09 November 2004 - 04:01 PM

biggrin.gif i like that man...good work

#6 Angusfan#1

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 07:19 PM

Awesome album. Whats next to the moon has one of the coolest rythme parts ever 10/10 rip Bon

#7 tml

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 08:29 PM

Riff Raff baby. Funnest song to play EVER! It's so ballsy and fast.

This is another great AC/DC album. no more needs to be said.

#8 semjonsemjonowitsch

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 02:20 AM

You didn't mention "Cold hearted man", which was on the original LP, but omitted later. I'd like to know why. It is midtempo, kind of "bad man in a bad World" song ("like a snake, he had no friends. He neither need no one. Ain't no lies, ice in the eyes..."), but has also some good typical Bon Scott stuff (screaming: "You can't trust nothing you don't understand"), but is probably the weakest on the album, but still worth listening to. The guitar is simple but effective rocking ACDC (I'm not good enough a guitarist to say more). By the way, my favourite tune here is the cool grooving "Gone shootin'"

Edited by semjonsemjonowitsch, 25 September 2006 - 02:36 AM.

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