AC/DC Roar Back With Power Up

New album dedicated to Malcolm Young

When AC/DC finished their world tour four years ago in support of their previous album Rock or Bust, they looked more bust than rock. Now the Aussie band is back in full force with a new album, released yesterday, and suddenly it feels like time was turned back 40 years. While Power Up may not have anthems like Hells Bells, Back in Black and You Shock Me All Night Long, AC/DC’s 17th studio album delivers plenty of the kind of straight kick-ass rock & roll that have made them such a widely beloved band among rock fans.

The fact AC/DC are still alive borders on a miracle. In April 2016, six months prior to the end of the Rock or Bust tour, lead vocalist Brian Johnson had to bow out due to severe hearing issues. This forced the band to reschedule the remaining 22 gigs and bring in Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses to finish the tour. At the end of the tour, bassist Cliff Williams was a spent force and announced his retirement. Drummer Phil Rudd had missed the entire tour in the first place due to legal issues. As had rhythm guitarist and songwriter Malcolm Young, who had been forced to retire in 2014 due to dementia. He passed away in November 2017 at the age of 64.

AC/DC in 2020 (from left): Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Angus Young and Stevie Young

Essentially, this only left lead guitarist Angus Young, who had formed AC/DC with his older brother Malcolm in 1973. Fast-forward to August 2018 when Angus Young; Stevie Young, who had joined the band in April 2014 following the departure of his uncle Malcolm; Phil Rudd; Cliff Williams; and Brian Johnson who thanks to a special hearing aid is able to sing again were photographed near a recording studio in Vancouver, Canada. Ever since rumors had been floating around about a new album. The long wait is over.

Produced by Brendan O’Brien who had also worked with AC/DC on their previous two albums Rock or Bust and Black Ice, Power Up was largely recorded in Vancouver over a six-week period between August and September 2018. All of the songs had been co-written by Angus and Malcolm during the period between the Stiff Upper Lip (February 2000) and Black Ice (October 2008) albums. Power Up is a tribute to Malcolm, another parallel to the above mentioned Back in Black that was dedicated to Bon Scott, Johnson’s predecessor who died in February 1980 due to acute alcohol poisoning.

After so much death and despair, how about some music! Here’s the opener Realize. With the power guitar riffs and Johnson’s screaming vocals, it sounds like classic AC/DC. The tune also appeared separately as a single three days ago.

Shot in the Dark became the album’s lead single released on October 11. It’s perhaps the “hit” on the record, reaching the top of the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. Here’s the official video.

When a band like AC/DC names a track Demon Fire, you know pretty much what to expect.

Wild Reputation has a great main riff that sounds a bit Stonesy.

Let’s do one more: Here’s the cool closer Code Red.

“Malcolm and myself over the years, whenever we’d come to an album we always walked in with a lot of A-grade songs,” Angus Young told the Associated Press. “We always had a stack full more left that were all great, great tracks…I concentrated on the ones I knew were Mal’s favorites. It’s a fitting project for him. He always liked being simple and direct, so I felt, what better than his music?”

“We all felt Malcolm around us, he was there,” added Brian Johnson. “We’re not spiritual type people, but, boy, oh boy. Malcolm was a very strong character in real life, and him passing away wasn’t gonna stop that. He was there, everywhere, and I think you can tell it on the record.”

It’s fair to say AC/DC aren’t breaking any new ground on Power Up. While for many other bands this may be a point of criticism, AC/DC have been great at what they’ve done for decades, so you really don’t want them to change. Plus, there may be more. During a separate interview with Apple Music, Angus Young revealed there are hundreds of unpublished songs in the AC/DC vault he and Malcom had written together. Young also joked, “You can’t call an album ‘rock or bust’ and then go bust.”

Sources: Wikipedia; Associated Press; Apple Music; YouTube

17 thoughts on “AC/DC Roar Back With Power Up”

  1. I think if AC/DC broke new ground…they wouldn’t be AC/DC anymore as backward as that sounds.
    I’m glad Angus is using songs him and his brother co-wrote. That is really cool. There are somethings that are constant in life…AC/DC is one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This album just makes me so happy – what a triumphant return!

      After the Rock or Bust tour, I don’t think anyone seriously thought AC/DC would be back, given all the drama this band had experienced.

      In the Apple Music interview I mentioned in the post, Angus went at length to talk about the important role of Malcolm and how his older brother always guided him. And how he would always look at an idea Angus had come up with and figure out how to make it better. Oftentimes, this meant to make it more simple.

      I know I’ve said this 100 million on this blog. Rock doesn’t need to be complicated to be great. AC/DC are living proof of that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t like Axl very much so I’m more than happy to see Brian back. At first I thought how rude of them but…they had to because they had shows booked…so I do get it.

        It’s cool knowing that Malcolm co-wrote these songs with his brother. They are going to miss him bad. He was a large part of their sound.

        They get what rock is…and do it great.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think Axl is fine for Guns N’ Roses, and I actually like some their stuff. AC/DC? Not so much. So, yes, it’s great Brian is back.

        Apparently, AC/DC had planned to put out the album much earlier and support it with some gigs. But just like so many other stories in music these days, then COVID-19 happened.

        Once we hopefully get beyond the crazy pandemic, I would love to see AC/DC. I’ve never been to one of their shows. Though it would probably advance my hearing loss! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve never seen them either! I can’t believe I never have.
        I do like some GNR songs…they helped bring back raw rock in the 80s so I have to credit them. I like Izzy a lot from that band also.

        I’m glad AC/DC got the bass player and the drummer back.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I haven’t heard much off the Rock or Bust album…I’ll have to keep that in mind. Christian you are always giving me cool suggestions…Thanks I’ll check it out today some on youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Meat and potatoes rock. How can you not love these guys? Have they ever done anything remotely resembling a ballad? Don’t know if I’ll ever go to a big show (minus Springsteen) again. But I have never seen these guys and I would be sorely tempted. That would be one insane crowd. I might even be tempted to get cranked up on Jack Daniels and hang from the rafters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you, Jim. AC/DC play some great kick-ass rock! Though I will admit, it wasn’t instant love when I first heard them. Of course, I have to say the same of Zep.

      From today’s perspective, I really can’t explain my initial reaction other than perhaps I was really young. Now, I’m still young but so much more wise! 🙂

      Like

      1. Exactly, young and not wise! Nowadays, I would go and see them in a heartbeat, if I get a chance. Apparently, they had planned to do some gigs juyst before COVID-19 hit, so perhaps once this bloody pandemic is behind us, AC/DC might go back on the road!

        Like

      2. Hey, for AC/DC, I might even come to Boston, if that’s what it would take to see them! I did it for Neil Young and don’t regret it for one minute! I think AC/DC would be memorable and probably lead to more hearing loss! 🙂

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