Tag Archives: ACDC

From sea shanties to glam rock: five music acts who have had a good lockdown

1. The Longest Johns

I’ve been following Bristol-based acapella group The Longest Johns since they sent me their first album to review back in 2016. Following the tiktok sea shanty viral sensation that is ‘Wellerman’, however, they now find themselves in the Top 40 – with a lovely rather dumbstruck announcement on their Facebook page giving their reaction as follows: “BY POSEIDONS BEARD! It’s only gone top 40! We did it everybody, thank-you to all our families, the mod’s and the fantastic discord community, Thank-you to Anna for singing it with us and thank-you to EVERYONE who bought Wellerman and got a (Can’t believe i’m typing this) SEA SHANTY IN THE CHARTS. Ohhhh!!”

Read album review here

2. Slade

2020 was looking like a terrible year for glam veterans, Slade. Guitarist Dave Hill sacked drummer Don Powell from the continuing (ie: post- Jim and Noddy) version of the band. Bass-player Jim Lea had his prized guitar stolen and Noddy Holder exchanged a few sharp words about his former song-writing partner Jim in press interviews. All that was put to one side, however, as all four original members expressed their joy at their greatest hits compilation Cum On Feel The Hitz going straight in at No. 8 in the UK album charts back in October. This was the band’s highest ranking in the UK album charts since Slade In Flame was released back in 1974!

Read more here

3. AC/DC

Only a few short years ago the wheels well and truly seemed to be finally coming off the AC/DC machine. Rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young had tragically passed away, drummer Phil Rudd was sentenced to home detention after an unedifying case involving drugs and threatening behaviour, vocalist Brian Johnson ended up being replaced by Axl Rose following major hearing problems and bass-player Cliff Williams saw the writing on the wall and decided he, too, had had enough. However, with Stevie Young replacing his late uncle, Malcolm, the classic post-Bon Scott AC/DC line-up (or as near as humanly possible to it anyway) was resurrected and a brand new album Power Up ended up reaching No. 1 in twenty-one countries.

Read album review here

4. John Rossall – ex Glitter Band

Glitter Band founder member, John Rossall, released a wonderfully menacing twenty-first century reboot of classic 70s glam rock with his The Last Glam In Town album. Released back in October last year, it picked up favourable reviews everywhere. All tribal beats, honking brass, fuzzed-up guitar, sing-along choruses and enough handclaps and chants of ‘Hey’ to last you a lifetime, The Last Glam In Town is a modern masterpiece of the genre.  “It’s like I’ve written them myself almost!” he told me when I interviewed him late last year. “It’s a surprise. The reviews everywhere – it’s been beyond my wildest dreams really.”

Read full interview here

5. Tim Burgess of the Charlatans

While there has been no big Charlatans comeback (their most recent album was back in 2017), Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties have been one of the bright spots throughout the pandemic. The idea was a simple one: an album and a time would be chosen and fans would converge on social media to exchange their memories, reactions and appreciation of said album. Soon there was a queue of artists eager to get involved and, for me, one of the highlights was when they featured the album by Heavy Load, a band which was composed of people with and without learning disabilities, of which my current boss was the former bass-player. You can find out more about Heavy Load, the award-winning film of the same name that was made about them and the charity that they inspired here.

Tim Burgess // Piknik i Parken // The Charlatans // 2019-06-13 18:19:07 // Grünerløkka, Oslo, Photo credit: Tore Sætre / Wikimedia

Hard rock: album review – AC/DC ‘Power Up’

I can remember my disappointment four years ago when AC/DC announced that Brian Johnson was pulling out of their then current tour due to hearing problems but that they would likely conclude the tour with a “guest vocalist”. When Axl Rose came forward to fill in for Johnson I was hugely, hugely sceptical but was completely won over as soon as I saw him actually perform with the band. I even looked forward to the possibility of some sort of Axl-AC/DC collaboration album.

However, when rumours began that Johnson, along with recently-departed bass-player Cliff Williams and laid-off drummer Phil Rudd, were reconvening with Angus Young and the late Malcolm Young’s replacement, Stevie Young, such fanciful notions were immediately put to one side. Brian Johnson was back where he belonged and the classic AC/DC line-up, or as near as humanly possible to it, was being resurrected. This felt exactly right. It’s been six years since the last AC/DC album Rock or Bust and twelve years since Black Ice. What could be a more perfect way to end 2020 than with a new AC/DC album?

Of course, absolutely no-one was expecting any musical surprises with Power Up. And there aren’t any. Indeed, when the first single off the album ‘Shot In The Dark’ gave us a sneak preview of what was in store I would have sworn blind, had I not known it was new, that I already had it somewhere on one of the albums recorded since For Those About To Rock was released. That’s not a criticism at all. The fact that a brand new song like that instantly feels so comfortably familiar after all these years and after various traumas and tragedies is testimony to the band’s ability to deploy all their trademark musical tricks to still make a great new classic.

Across the album we have twelve tracks of classic AC/DC – hard riffing, catchy choruses, bouncy rhythms and a lead singer screaming his lungs out as he has for the last forty years. Welcome back Brian. Welcome back AC/DC.

Brilliantly, expertly, joyously predictable, Power Up is exactly what we needed in 2020.

Released: 13th November 2020

https://pwrup.acdc.com/

Related posts:

AC/DC at The Olympic Stadium, London 2016

AC/DC at Wembley Stadium, London 2015

From AC/DC to ABBA: five classic glam rock singles by non-glam bands

In the early 70s the likes of Bolan, Bowie and Slade were pioneering both the sounds and the looks that would come to define glam rock. Emerging in 1971, building momentum in 1972 and absolutely dominating the UK charts by 1973, glam was everywhere by 1974. Even non-glam bands were at it.

Here we look at five bands who managed to release great glam rock singles in 1974.

AC/DC – Can I Sit Next To You Girl

Released as their debut single in July 1974 the original version of ‘Can I Sit Next to You Girl’ is the only AC/DC release to feature Dave Evans on lead vocals, prior to Bon Scott taking over. The band would re-record the track with Scott but here you can see and hear the original. Angus is in his schoolboy uniform, of course, but the rest of the band are looking spectacularly glammed up. And it’s not just the image that’s glam either. The vocal delivery, arrangements and guitar riff all have far more of a glam rock than a hard rock feel to them. Now I love the sleazy hard-rocking Bon Scott-era of AC/DC and wouldn’t want to change a thing – but this debut single gives a delicious glimpse of how things might have been in some parallel universe.

Mungo Jerry – Long Legged Woman Dressed In Black

When ‘In The Summertime’ became the band’s first big hit in 1970 Mungo Jerry’s laid-back jug-band sound couldn’t be further away from glam rock if you tried. By 1974, however, it’s blindingly clear that glam was having an influence. It’s not just lead singer Ray Dorset’s studded white leather sleeveless jacket over his bare chest, we have a drum beat that wouldn’t be out of place on a Glitter Band release and a sing-along chorus that just screams pure unadulterated glam. My particular memory of this song was at my 8th birthday party when my dad crammed me and half the kids down the street into the back of his Ford Anglia to take us to the park. On the way back this came on the radio at full volume and we had all the widows open, screaming along to it at the top of our voices.

The Wombles – Remember You’re A Womble

Although their first single and (the theme tune from the BBC series) epitomises the lush orchestral pop that creator Mike Batt has been associated with much of his career, for the Wombles’ second single they went down a much rockier route. Joining Mike Batt (vocals/keyboards) were session musicians Chris Spedding (guitars), Les Hurdle (bass), Clem Cattini (drums), Ray Cooper (percussion), Rex Morris (saxophone), Eddie Mordue (saxophone) and Jack Rothstein (violin). Not only was the single a brilliantly bouncy slice of glam rock but, thanks to the glorious fiddle solo, it’s a brilliant slice of folk rock, too. As such it remains the greatest glam-folk single ever made. Tim Hart of Steeleye Span kind of agreed. In his book ‘Electric Eden’ Rob Young recounts that Hart “bought a triple LP of Wombles tunes and was impressed with the clarity of it’s sub glam power pop”. Batt was hired by the band and the result was Steeleye Span’s own glam-folk smash ‘All Around My Hat’.

The Rolling Stones – I Know It’s Only Rock n Roll

This July 1974 single and title track of the Stones’ album later that year originally emerged out of a jam session Mick Jagger had with Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones of the Faces, along with David Bowie and bass player Willie Weeks. The track was polished up, some guitar licks were added by Richards and a Rolling Stones classic was born. Easily the most glam-influence song the Stones produced it really reminds me of T.Rex. And, of course, if you are going to release a glam rock single you need a glam rock video to go with it. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg the video shows the band dressed in sailor suits and playing in a tent which eventually fills up with bubbles. According to Keith Richards, the idea for the sailor suits came about at the last minute because none of the Stones wanted to get their own clothes ruined with detergent bubbles.

ABBA – Waterloo

Waterloo was written specifically as ABBA’s bid for the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, after the group finished third with ‘Ring Ring’ in the contest for Sweden’s entry the previous year. With a driving guitar riff and a rocking upbeat tempo the song was quite a departure from the romantic ballads of previous European winners and, indeed, of ABBA’s later releases. Throw in the knee-high silver platforms, the glittery costumes and the star-shaped guitar and ‘Waterloo’ is a glam rock classic in all but name. Indeed, Abba themselves had cited ‘See My Baby Jive’ by English glam rockers Wizzard as a major influence at the time. My Nana, who was babysitting for us that night, let us stay up to watch them win Eurovision.

Related posts:

Before glam: the debut 60s singles of Bowie, Bolan, Slade, Mud and Sweet

The Sweet versus Bowie: the riff in Blockbuster and Jean Genie – origins and influences

Slade, strikes and the three-day week: the story of the greatest Christmas record ever made

 

The first seven rock records I ever owned

With music-loving parents rock music had always been in the background growing up. By my early teens I’d begun taping a few things off my dad when I first got a portable tape recorder. But these are the first albums that I actually owned.

ONE – AC/DC – Highway To Hell

My dad had been an early adopter as far as AC/DC were concerned, buying High Voltage not long after it was released in the UK and playing it pretty much constantly as I recall. Highway to Hell came out in 1979 and not only did my dad have a copy but my older stepsister had one, too. By 1981, though, she was getting far more into punk and so gifted me her copy. My first rock album – and what an absolute classic to start off with.

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TWO – Status Quo – Never Too Late

Not the greatest Quo album but a good solid album and a great cover of ‘Somethin’ Bout You Baby I Like’ which had made the top ten. I was already a confirmed Quo fan when the album was released in March 1981, just in time for my fifteenth birthday in May – thanks Mum!

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THREE – Slade – We’ll Bring The House Down

Another fifteenth birthday present (thanks Dad!). I’d been aware of Slade in the early 70s, of course, but by the time I was a teenager they’d virtually disappeared off the radar completely. But I remember watching Top Of The Tops when Slade burst on the screen with their brilliantly raucous comeback single ‘We’ll Bring The House Down’. I asked for the album for my birthday and a life-long devotion to all things Slade followed. Not Slade’s most famous album by a long stretch, but in terms of making an impact on a youthful Darren perhaps the most significant album I ever owned.

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FOUR: Deep Purple – In Rock

A friend at school sold me this second-hand. He decided he was a punk not a metalhead and this was therefore surplus to requirements so I bought it off him for 50p. A true classic album, I loved (and still do) the combination of Jon Lord’s eerily atmospheric Hammond, Ritchie Blackmore’s manic guitar wizardry and Ian Gillan’s deranged screaming. Deep Purple had been defunct for several years by this time but this was an indication that I would be dipping back into the back catalogues of the previous decade for many of my subsequent musical purchases over the coming years.

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FIVE: Whitesnake – Ready an’ Willing

Bought from a record shop in Southport while I was in a youth theatre project this album immediately impressed – with one unforgettable tune after another. Just a few weeks later Whitesnake, along with AC/DC and Slade, would be one of the first bands I ever saw – live at the Donington Monsters of Rock festival.

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SIX – Status Quo – Whatever You Want

I remember getting this from the local newsagents where they had a small rack of cut-price LPs amongst all the magazines and sweets. I bought it mainly for the title track and ‘Living On An Island’ but this became an album I played loads.

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SEVEN – Rainbow – Down To Earth

Another bargain, this is one I got cheap from a mail-order company. I had already taped my dad’s copies of ‘Rising’ and ‘Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow’ by this time and was a fan of Ronnie James Dio’s vocals but I also really warmed to the more commercial rock of the Graham Bonnet-fronted Rainbow, too. Still a really great album and still one of my favourites.

I took this (along with my recently-purchased Ready an Willing and Whatever You Want) to a party in the summer of 81 and they all got a bit scratched and battered, sadly. It was an early lesson in why you should not take records to parties – but, with any luck, hopefully someone would be inventing the CD for me in a couple of year’s time….

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So that was my first bunch of albums. Many, many hundreds more would follow over the years. But, looking back, I feel fairly nostalgic thinking about how it all started for me and, if I may so myself, not a bad choice of albums at all….

2016 – The top ten most popular reviews on Darren’s music blog

Happy New Year and thanks to everyone who visited this blog during 2016. Here were the ten posts with the biggest number of hits this year:

  1. Sweet at Bilston – December: “The band produced some excellent hard rock back in the day and it’s nice to see that side of the band being properly celebrated, in addition to the more obvious but still equally wonderful glam rock side” – full review here
  2. AC/DC at the Olympic Stadium – June: “as I’m listening to Axl Rose belting out the likes of Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and High Voltage I can’t help feeling he’s absolutely nailing those old Bon Scott tunes – full review here
  3. John Cooper Clark & Hugh Cornwell at Kentish Town – November: “It’s a veritable celebration of late 50s/early 60s pop culture and it is, my gig companion for the evening whispers to me, the most surreal gig I’ve ever been to.” – full review here
  4. Saxon / Fastway / Girlschool at Shepherd’s Bush – November: “Saxon in 2016 deliver the old material as good as they ever did, produce truly stunning new material and perform with a confidence and authority as befits one of British rock’s truly great bands.” Full review here
  5. Ian Hunter at Shepherd’s Bush – November: “The Rant Band are on great form, as ever. Ian Hunter continues to be both a great rock and roll performer, as ever, and a thought-provoking singer-songwriter, as ever. Let’s hope there’s a good few more tours in him yet.” Full review here
  6. Ian Hunter at Minehead – January :(yes – clearly a lot of Ian Hunter fans visit my blog!) “not only is Hunter still going strong, still singing and still performing but that he is still a major creative force, writing songs and making albums as consistently original and wonderfully compelling as the ones he made over four decades ago.” Full review here
  7. Mott The Hoople Fan Convention at Hereford – June: “Forty-two years after their original demise Mott The Hoople is still a band that’s loved, celebrated and cherished by its many fans – and rightly so.” Full review here
  8. Mick Ralphs Blues Band at Minehead – January: Sadly, the band have now called it a day following Mick Ralphs’ stroke this year. Let’s hope Mick has a full recovery and let’s hope it’s not the last we have heard of lead singer Adam Barron “he is, in my mind, fast establishing himself of one of the finest blues rock vocalists of his generation.” Full review here
  9. Me! – yes my own biography at number 9. You read the blog, you want to find out a bit more about who is behind it so here I am. Full details here
  10. Slade UK and Pouk Hill Prophetz at Wolverhampton – March: Another fan convention – Slade this time and a chance to see the Pouk Hill Prophetz. “Where the band really excel, particularly in the later set, is in the delivery of pre-glam era “before they were famous” Slade songs – stunningly authentic versions of songs like Know Who You Are and Dapple Rose.” Full details here

Thanks to visiting everyone and here’s to 2017. Although it’s now inevitable that a number of music icons from the 60s and 70s are passing away let’s hope the rock obituary writers are not kept anywhere near as busy in 2017.

Darren

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Sweet at Bilston -our number 1 for 2016 (Photo credit: Eileen Handley)

 

AC/DC at The Olympic Stadium, London 4/6/16

After successfully purchasing two tickets for this AC/DC gig the minute they went on sale last December I was gutted to later learn that a number of dates were being pulled because of Brian Johnson’s hearing problems, but also mystified to read in the announcement that they hoped to resume the tour “likely with a guest vocalist.” Just how was that going to work out?

A huge amount of controversy ensued about the way Brian Johnson had been treated, about whether the band was right to carry on and if (in the light of also losing founder, Malcolm Young, and drummer, Phil Rudd) the dignified thing was to call it a day once and for all and put the AC/DC name to rest. The subsequent rumours and then confirmation that it was to be Axl Rose replacing Johnson for the remainder of this tour merely stoked the controversy even further.

And now, as I’m standing in the Olympic Stadium watching the Axl Rose-fronted AC/DC, I’m reminded of something that my dad said to me at the time of Bon Scott’s death when I was just 13: “They might find another singer but no-one is ever going to sound as dirty as Bon Scott.” That’s not to berate Brian Johnson, who was a hugely powerful vocalist who delivered some brilliant rock anthems and who embodied the spirit of AC/DC for well over three decades. But he had a different style of vocal delivery to his predecessor and as I’m listening to Axl Rose belting out the likes of Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and High Voltage I can’t help feeling he’s absolutely nailing those old Bon Scott tunes and bringing back some of that elusive “dirtiness” that my dad was always looking for. Perhaps, especially given I’d seen a brilliant AC/DC set at Wembley Stadium last year with Brian Johnson still at the helm, I’d probably have liked a few more Scott era classics in the set-list but that’s a minor quibble. Rose handles both the Scott and Johnson material with aplomb.

Musically, the band are as together as ever: blinding solos from Angus Young, crunching rhythm from Stevie Young (Malcolm’s successor), ever reliable bass-lines from Cliff Williams and powerhouse drumming from Chris Slade. The effects are all present and correct, too: the over the top lighting show, the crazy video shorts, the clanging bell, the firing cannons…

I’m genuinely pleased that I approached this gig in a spirit of optimism and open-mindedness. Axl Rose would certainly never have been my immediate thought for a replacement frontman for AC/DC. But he and the rest of the band gave us a night to remember. A credible band with a credible lead singer delivering a truly astonishing show. Long live AC/DC.

Setlist:
Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation
Thunderstruck
High Voltage
Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
Hells Bells
Given the Dog a Bone
If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
Sin City
You Shook Me All Night Long
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
T.N.T.
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway to Hell
Riff Raff
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

 

http://www.acdc.com/

 

Previous review:

AC/DC at Wembley

AC/DC at Wembley Stadium 4/7/15

“Rock is dead” pronounced Kiss’s Gene Simmons, never a man to hold back on his opinions. But that would seem a highly difficult concept to explain to anyone seeing 80,000 people flooding into Wembley Stadium for AC/DC on this hot July evening.

Of course, Simmons was talking about the rock bands of the future, but more of that later.

Five years since their last world tour ended and five years since they last played in Britain, the band’s recent well-publicised problems (founder Malcolm Young tragically forced into retirement by dementia and drummer, Phil Rudd, removed from the band following court appearances on a range of charges including murder threats) have done nothing to dim the level of interest and excitement in this latest tour.

And what a memorable night this has turned out to be. For a gig this size the sound is utterly brilliant, helped I am sure by the huge wall of Marshall Amps neatly stacked up across the back of the otherwise Spartan stage. Stevie Young, replacing Malcolm, delivers the grinding trademark guitar sound made famous by his absent uncle; while Chris Slade, back with the band after an absence of two decades, is a hugely powerful drummer ensuring he and bassist, Cliff Williams, provide an unrelenting rhythm throughout the evening. Vocalist, Brian Johnson, is in excellent form for a man of his age and Angus Young’s lead guitar is as spellbinding as ever.

It’s the songs, though, that really make AC/DC the band that it is.  They begin the show with the title track of their 2014 album, Rock or Bust, and return to the album for two other songs later on. But apart from those,  together with Thunderstruck from their 1990 album, Razor’s Edge, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Train from 2008’s Black Ice (their first 100% bona-fide classic song since For Those About To Rock in my view) ; the setlist is not dramatically different from when I saw them for the first time, 34 years ago, aged 15. But that is precisely what I and everyone else present want. A gloriously good-natured capacity crowd at Wembley Stadium sing along to classic after classic: Back in Black, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap; High Voltage, You Shook Me all Night Long; TNT, Whole Lotta Rosie…

The two hours whizz by and a following a spectacular version of Let There Be Rock and a lengthy guitar solo that’s still as manic as anything I ever saw from Angus Young thirty-odd  years ago, the crowds are calling for an encore and the band return to the stage for an unmissable Highway to Hell and a spectacular For Those About to Rock, complete with canon gun fire and pyrotechnics.

While rock music has undergone many different permutations, adaptations and reinventions since rock ‘n’ roll first came on the scene, apart from the increase in power and volume, AC/DC’s songs and riffs have not really deviated from that basic musical template that was set for rock ‘n’ roll back in the mid-fifties.  This must have played a major part in the band’s success and longevity, playing songs that are accessible, instantly recognisable and that can be sung along to in a way that most heavy rock or metal bands could only dream of.

And when AC/DC finally stop playing, these 80,000 people here tonight (representing a very healthy mix of male and female fans and a hugely varied range of age groups from teens upwards) are they all going to give up on live rock music altogether? I very much doubt it. Rock is very much alive and AC/DC, themselves, are playing a big part in ensuring it will long outlive them.

Setlist:

Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Play Ball
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Thunderstruck
High Voltage
Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
Hells Bells
Baptism by Fire
You Shook Me All Night Long
Sin City
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
T.N.T.
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

http://www.acdc.com/

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