Sunday, May 26, 2013

AC/DC - Powerage

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Sunday.

This weekend (May 25th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Powerage, the fifth studio album from Australia’s hard rockers AC/DC. The 1978 release went to number 133 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 26 in the UK, number 22 in Australia, number 19 in Sweden and number 10 in France.

This one marked the first for bassist Cliff Williams playing with the group. He joined Bon Scott (lead vocals), Phil Rudd (drums), Angus Young (lead guitar) and Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar and backing vocals).

Side one begins with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation”, the first single from the album. It went to number 83 in Australia, number 24 in the UK and number 18 in the Netherlands. This one full of attitude and confidence, stating that you need to do whatever it takes despite what other say.

I like how the guitar parts on “Down Payment Blues” are split across the audio channels, with the bass on one side and the lead guitar on the other. The lyrics reflect the economic times of the late 70’s, where people could afford fancy cars but not the gasoline to power them. The band’s blues-rock style is perfect for a song like this.

“Gimme a Bullet” is about a brutal break-up that leaves the guy totally devastated. Like in the days of the old west, he asks for a bullet to bite on to distract himself from the pain.

“”Riff Raff” features an extended instrumental opening jam that brings to mind, for me, another band at the other end of the rock alphabet - ZZ Top. It really does have a great Southern Rock vibe to it.

Side two starts with “Sin City”, the B-side to the first single. This ode to Las Vegas is a bit slower than the rest but still contains the AC/DC spark. The guitar solo on this one is explosive.

“What’s Next to the Moon” has a rhythm that definitely hooks me. Of course, the references to Superman are always a plus to this life-long comic book fan.

“Gone Shootin’” is next. To me, it is slightly mellower than the proceeding tracks. I do like the false-stop around the four minute mark before it finishes up with just a bit more jamming.

“Up to My Neck in You” tells the tale of a guy whose life has been a mess for years until the right woman comes along. The song gets (for the time) a little rowdy and sexually suggestive. AC/DC was always good at getting down and dirty though, which is why we love them so.

The album closer “Kicked in the Teeth” again dips heavily back into the blues-rock pool with great results. The guy ends up on the losing end of a relationship as the woman kicks him to the curb. Man, based on this album alone, the women of Australia are not the type to be trifled with.

Powerage is hard-rocking album that does not let up from beginning to end. Like most AC/DC records, it made to be enjoyed at a loud stereo setting. So, crank it up and just kick back for a good time.

For my review of the band’s 1980 album Back In Black, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Powerage wasn't one of my favorite AC/DC albums when I was younger but the bluesier and Southern boogie sounds you mentioned have defintiely grown on me over the past [gulp!] thirty-five years. "Sin City", which I first saw the band perform on an episode of The Midnight Special, has always been a road-trip mix staple.

About a dozen years ago, I picked up a promotional copy of an album by Mark Kozelek in the dollar bin of the used CD shop just because the title sounded familiar. It wasn't until I got it home and played the first three tracks that it dawned on me - the whole album was acoustic/folk covers of AC/DC songs, including three from Powerage.

Here's the Spotify link if you anybody wants to check it out:
What's Next To The Moon - Mark Kozelek