Friday, November 21, 2014

All Hail Bon Scott Era AC/DC

For years I resisted AC/DC, mostly because I grew up in a small town on the Great Plains where they were the preferred band of every dirtbag burnout cruising the main drag every Friday night in what passed for teenage culture that place.  As time went by, I soon learned the error of my ways.  In my Chicago days my dearly departed friend David cranked up Back in Black one Friday happy hour over beer and darts, and it was the perfect musical accompaniment.

That album was my gateway drug, since I soon discovered that while it was a great record, I much preferred the more raw stuff the band put out with Bon Scott, their original front man.  To this day I hold that Scott is among rock's greatest front men, in a class with Mick Jagger, Johnny Rotten, and Robert Plant.  While he was not a great singer, he was a fantastic yelper whose high-pitched calls to wanton good times perfectly complimented the band's powerful blues riffs and brutal, fill-free drums.  His leering, playful stage presence was perfect for letting the good times roll.  Only The Faces could challenge Bon Scott's AC/DC for the title of greatest bar band of all time.  Hell, the song "TNT" is basically a big brag about barroom fighting ability.  Here are some other songs that belong in the Bon Scott pantheon:

"It's A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock and Roll"

Scott had spent years paying his dues, which accounts for his worldly-wise, knowing pose.  Every word of this song was earned.  It also has maybe the coolest use of bagpipes in a rock song, only appropriate considering that the frontman was born in Scotland.


When he takes the persona of a jailbird, you actually believe it.  The slow, ominous build is perfect, as is Scott's delivery of the line "He made it out…with a bullet in his BACK!"

"Let There Be Rock"

Angus Young just absolutely shreds on this one, proving that AC/DC can put things up tempo if they want to.  Scott's taking the preacher personae is great fun to boot.

"Sin City"

This song isn't as well, but I think it has the best riff that AC/DC ever crafted, and that's saying something.  It sounds pretty good on the studio version, but it really shows its power live.

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"

This song might now have some new resonance considering drummer Phil Rudd was recently arrested for trying to arrange a contract murder.  It's a testament to the band's verisimilitude that I was not totally surprised by that revelation.  This song is Scott at his salacious, satyr-like best.


Gutbucket, shot and a pint down and dirty rock music just doesn't get any better than this.  At a time when rock is either tepid (but often interesting) indie rock or godawful Nickelback-like corporate rock processed cheese, we need a dose of Bon Scott.


bmi said...

Scott was a great frontman. And don't forget that Malcolm Young (who recently had to retire for medical reasons) is one of rock's greatest rhythm guitarists.

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Yes, without a doubt. They were such a tight band in their prime.