We need to talk about ACDC: Shot In The Dark review

When you can sing along to a chorus having never heard the song before you need to ask yourself some questions

The Australian hard rock bastions have just released the first single from their 18th studio album, Power Up and we at By The Freaks feel an urgent need to say what everyone is thinking: it is exactly the same as every other song.

Other bands are samey, for sure, but at 47 years strong ACDC are nothing short of incredible. To be finding different ways of writing the same lyrics, playing the same guitar solo, and capping it off with a song title carrying the same vibe as all the others is a whole new level of impressive. When you can sing along to a chorus having never heard the song before you need to ask yourself some questions…

ACDC performing Back In Black, their first hit with singer Brian Johnson, at River Plate in December 2009

Is every album the same? Yes. Is it boring? No. Do the band seem to be getting tired? Definitely not.

“I’m sick to death of people saying we’ve made 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve made 12 albums that sound exactly the same.”

Angus Young

10 albums since the death of original singer Bon Scott and ACDC are still going as hard as ever. The band say they were not sure how he fans would respond at the time to new singer Brian Johnson back when they recorded that first album, Back In Black. That album went on to be one of the best selling records of all time. Not only could Brian hit those high notes, just like Bon, but he had the same knack for writing sleazy lyrics and catchy choruses. Clearly ACDC had found the perfect replacement for their singer, even if they had to travel all the way from Sydney Australia to Newcastle UK to find him. Were they big shoes to fill though? Drinking, prostitutes and rockin’ & rollin’ really are the core subjects for the band’s songs and that is not quite Wordsworth… Yet to do it without getting boring, to know exactly what millions of people across the world will chant back at you when you scream it across the stadium or the radio wires, there is an art to that. In the same way a three chord trick is more than the sum of its parts if it gets people dancing, jumping, or stomping. Given there are so few moments where we all come together in one collective activity anymore there is an almost tribal element to how we can all sing along to an ACDC song.

ACDC performing Let There Be Rock with original singer Bon Scott in 1988. Bon died in 1980, whilst the band were in London beginning work on Back In Black

At this point in their careers most musicians form side projects to explore their musical passions or whims while keeping the money maker going. Not ACDC. Not a single member has split off to pursue other projects, which only leads one to deduce that this band fulfils every one of their musical desires, and if that is the case of course they are going to keep on the same path. Why waste time getting conceptual? Why try so hard to be taken seriously? No matter what ACDC have always made being in a rock band look like the best fun anyone could have and if enough of us are having fun with them what is wrong with that?

ACDC performing Ballbreaker at Plaza Del Toros Las Ventas in 1996

Given the passing of Malcolm Young in 2017, Brian Johnson’s hearing issues in 2016, and the criminal charges against drummer Phil Rudd prior to that, the future of the band felt a little shaky. Yet here we are, Brian has undergone surgery, Phil’s criminal charges have either been cleared up or dropped, and Malcolm’s nephew, Stevie Young, is now permanently replacing his uncle on rhythm guitar. Hype for the new album is very real and we cannot wait for the tour to be announced.

Highway to Hell is one of ACDCs biggest hits from the Bon Scott year. Taken from the album of the same name and released in 1979

Is there anything new to write about Shot In The Dark? Do I expect anything new from Power Up? Was I even surprised by this? No. Do I love Shot In The Dark? Will I buy Power Up? Am I glad ACDC are still making music? Obviously yes.

Shot In The Dark by ACDC, our first preview of upcoming album ‘Power Up’

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About callumfcsteele 42 Articles
London based promoter and musician

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