On Second Thought: AC/DC – High Voltage (1976)

Composed of material clipped from AC/DC’s first two albums, TNT and High Voltage — which were only distributed in the band’s home base of Australia — this collection, also called “High Voltage” signaled their introduction to a worldwide audience.

Not only was High Voltage one of the most exciting hard rock albums of the year (although the majority of critics failed to think so), but it also revived a savage simplicity to the genre that had been missing in recent times. Right from their birth in 1973, the band concocted a winning recipe that still holds firm today. No matter what the ingredient of the month may be they’ve stuck faithfully to the formula developed decades ago.

Powered by an arrogant swagger pitched somewhere between street punk and sex maniac, High Voltage (Atlantic Records) shivers and shakes to a raunchy repertoire of three chord brilliance. Lead guitarist Angus Young’s sleazy licks, which sound like what Chuck Berry would probably sound like in a heavier context, are so astonishingly bare and basic that they’re revolutionary. Add frontman Bon Scott’s scratchy sneer to the show, along with Phil Rudd’s stomping drums, and the insistent riffing of guitarist Malcolm Young and bassist Mark Evans, and here’s an album that separates the men from the boys and the boys from the men.

Bagpipes and rock and roll usually don’t make compatible bed fellows, but in the case of “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll)” they certainly do. Reciting the trials and tribulations of the biz, the bold and buzzing track kicks High Voltage off with a bang and a half. The teasing and taunting “Little Lover” slouches towards a slow burning blues angle, and “The Jack” bristles and sizzles to a hypnotically thudding beat.

The title cut of the album boogies and bucks with blazing bravado, and the thunderous thigh-slapping “TNT” features a catchy call and response styled chorus akin to Slade and the Sweet.

AC/DC songs are similar to Hershey’s Kisses, meaning they all taste the same, but because they’re so delicious you’re apt to crave more and more. Properly named, High Voltage teems with electrifying tunes and completely illustrates the band’s grasp and feel for hard rocking grit. Shortly after the package hit the stores, AC/DC, as planned, turned into an international sensation, and while they went onto issue further fantastic albums, High Voltage forever remains a milestone in the band’s discography.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • LesterAndEliza

    Still a classic