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AC/DC: Black Ice

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AC/DC: <em>Black Ice</em>

Swearing at MotoristsThe original Blizzard from Oz returns with another of Satan’s musical telegrams
The time: 1981.with AC/DC’s brain-numbing, redneck rock. I secretly worshipped Black Flag and pined for the day when I could return to the LBC, reminding myself that a) eventually I could blow this hillbilly popstand and b) it was possible to know nothing whatsoever about music and still make a killer racket guaranteed to piss off adults and thrill your peers. and AC/DC, a band which time has shown to be one of the finest post-modern blues acts to ever plug into a wall of Marshalls.Swearing at Motorists
So that’s why, listening to the band’s 15th studio long-player since its formation back in the early ‘70s (and ninth since losing original frontman Bon Scott to the bottom of the bottle), I can hear the jokes from the unenlightened already: “Back in Black Ice?” “Highway to Hell Freezes Over?” “Dirty Deeds Done the Same Damn Way as Before (but several decades older)?”
Here’s the simple, somewhat counterintuitive truth about AC/DC: for a band with a sound so huge it can cause a concussion, their single-minded determination to blow up your video, stereo and/or brain has always been a minimalist’s feast of major chords, fraternizing with minors and lyrics that didn’t get in the way of either. And Black Ice‘n roll than anyone aside from Chuck Berry, and on this album you get three of the finest of the form: the “Highway to Hell”-evoking “Rock ‘n Roll Train,” the obvious but funky “She Likes Rock ‘n Roll” and the ever-so-slightly-wistful “Rock ‘n Roll Dream” (in which Brian Johnson, Scott’s replacement and a singer Scott admired during his lifetime, suggests that “it could be the very last time” in a manner suggesting he just might mean what he says).
Elsewhere, “Big Jack” flaunts a terrific orthogonal riff tethered to one of the band’s patented four-on-the-floor throwdowns, “War Machine” harkens back to the rumbling menace of “Sin City,” and “Stormy May Day” proves that someone’s learned how to play a mean little slide at some point along the way. Meanwhile, “Decibel” is one of Angus Young’s classic blooze showcases, a simple little circular riff doused in gas and set alight like so many of the arsonist’s in-jokes the band has played with over the years.

Johnson’s leathery shriek of a voice has surely seen better days, and no, there are no new ideas here (nor have there been in the three-plus decades the quintet have thrived and survived together), but this is all totally beside the point for the band’s millions of supporters and aficionados: for these Aussie mischief-makers it’s always been about riffs, tiffs and spliffs, and in that regard, Black Ice succeeds on every level imaginable. And for that, AC/DC, we salute you.
Listen to AC/DC's "Rock 'n Roll Train" from Black Ice on the band's MySpace page.

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