November 13th, 2020
You tend to get what it says on the tin with AC/DC. Full on Rock anthems, a little bit of sauce and a whole lot of fun along the way. Great to say then that Power Up, along with the return of Brian Johnson to the fold following near deafness, ticks all the boxes and adds another: reflection.
Right from the off the mood is set with Realize. A full frontal assault on the senses, here’s a tune to knock the three-year-old cobwebs away in a single swing of Angus Young’s Gibson GS. Brash and ballsy, Realize is a tune guaranteed to feature on any much hoped for set list of the future. What’s also great with the opener is that Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams rhythm pounding has not diminished one bit. With Steve Young stepping into the massive shoes of cousin Malcolm, all that remains is judgement on Brian’s voice. Rest assured, guys! It has never sounded raspier, more energised and on top of the form as this.
Rejection is throwback to the days when AC/DC left everything on the field. A song filled with menace, Rudd’s backdrop drumming is loaded with venom, while Angus plays with a distinct sharpness most discernible on Razor’s Edge.
Shot In The Dark is a tailor-made single, with its swanky, blister infused riffs and catchy breaks, whereas Through The Mists of Time sees the band – in this their forty-seventh year – venture into the land of the laid back. It also shows, were it necessary, that the ability to write a song has leapt forwards in giant steps. Easily track of the album, here is a song that vibrates with reminisce for the days gone by. Of Bon in his pomp. Of Malcolm grinding away in the background. Of Rosie and of waiting around to be Millionaire’s on Hell’s Highway. When the pages of AC/DCs history are written, if this isn’t that good book’s title, I have no idea what will be.
More staple fare comes in its wake with Kick You When You’re Down, a trademarked tub-thumper and no mistake, with Williams grooves aplenty. Surging melodic rock follows this in the shape of Witch’s Spell which, along with Demon Fire, smacks of having a dirty skid mark of malevolence beneath its paper thin skin.
With Brendan O’Brien at the production helm, the feeling is that of the band playing live. As a result, the freedom they are expounding is a joy to the ears. It’s also easy to see – if only in the mind – Angus duck walking like a good ‘un and Johnson growling his fervent joy. Demon Fire even has a vocal contribution from the guitarist himself.
Wild Reputation demands to have the bass whacked right the way up, with its blended backing vocals and heavy bass undertow throbbing like a freshly smacked thigh. No Man’s Land could easily be a twin of Bedlam in Belgium from Flick of the Switch, which is no bad thing.
Many of the songs were written or sampled as far back as 2008. No matter. There is a freshness and energy here that’s as refreshing as it is unexpected. A zeal that positively invigorates the sum of the whole until, finally, the final track – Code Red– returns us to familiar ground. Johnson belting out lyrics in a rush a la Whaddya Do For Money, Honey, this is a piece decidedly dripping with attitude.
AC/DC are back and not just from a short break. Power Up is by far their best collective outing since Razors Edge and this knocks that into a totally cocked hat. A joy from start to finish, Power Up and play it loud for all its worth!
3. Shot in the Dark
4. Through the Mists of Time
5. Kick You When You’re Down
6. Witch’s Spell
7. Demon Fire
8. Wild Reputation
9. No Man’s Land
10. Systems Down
11. Money Shot
12. Code Red