AC/DC Highway To Hell (Epic)

How has it come to pass that AC/DC have managed to make a virtue of their, uh, uncomplicatedness, whereas Status Quo have moulded their resistance to evolution into a kind of knowing joke? Whatever the reason, for about four minutes (pretty much the duration of its opening title track) “Highway To Hell” is deliriously exhilarating. If you were ever charged on pain of death to explain rock music to some visiting Martian, it wouldn’t be the shabbiest way to get your point across.

For me, the album also offers the added interest of reverse engineering the rearrangements made to some of its songs by Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon mainstay Mark Kozelek on his album of acoustic AC/DC covers “What’s Next To The Moon”. There, he located the sepia-toned vulnerability at the heart of, er, “Walk All Over You”, “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” and “Love Hungry Man”, in the process rendering them completely unrecognisable. Really, on hearing the originals for the first time, I’d be long past the chorus before realising what I was listening to.        

“Beating Around The Bush” sounds a little too redolent of Aerosmith’s “Rats In The Cellar” – see what happens when they venture outside the comfort zone? Similarly the welcome variety introduced by the wailing blues of “Night Prowler” is poisoned by its controversial lyrics; the song was said to be a favourite of American serial killer Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez. Still, there’s something strangely exciting about “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”, all hopped up on testosterone as it is.

I can’t complain about the album’s current vinyl incarnation, though, all 180 appropriately gutsy, thumpy grams of it.