They're back and sounding exactly the same as ever.
AC/DC are back. It seemed unlikely a few years ago, what with Brian Johnson's hearing issues followed by the loss of Malcolm Young. AC/DC were getting old and it was starting to show - but against all the odds, Johnson's back, and so are the band.
Power Up is the Australian group's seventeenth effort, and the amazing thing is that you've already heard it. It's frankly remarkable that there isn't an AC/DC song called 'If It Ain't Broke (Don't Fix It)', because that seems to have been the motto on which they've based their entire career. One drum beat, three chords and a loud voice, AC/DC have now released seventeen records and hundreds of songs that all revolve around one core concept idea.
Most bands who do that crash and burn by the third album, as their lack of original ideas starts to bore their audience. AC/DC, however, caught lightning in a bottle with theirs and have managed to maintain a 45 year career on it. This is not a criticism either; it really takes something special to be able to do something like that.
What it means for this review, however, is that there really isn't a whole lot to say. From start to finish, it's 12 tracks of exactly what you think it is. It's balls out, cannon blazing, pub ready rock and roll, with all the groove and gravelly tones they've had since day one. Angus' fingers remain nimble, Johnson still sounds like a man who eats cement for breakfast and Phil Rudd is still using the same drum beat time and time and time again. There are no surprises, no twists into a jazz number, no guest appearances by a weird time signature. It's AC/DC.
If you're already a fan of AC/DC, you'll love it. If you're a younger person who perhaps know of their younger clone band Airbourne but haven't yet checked out the original article, this would be as good a place as any other to begin.
Of course, even when you're recycling one idea time and time again, you can still have varying degrees of quality, as shown by the difference between Back in Black and Fly on the Wall. So the real question is, where does this stack up in their own library? Well, it's pretty much in the middle. Whilst there are no standout tracks, á la 'Thunderstruck' or 'For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)', it is a strong collection of songs. Power Up is more of a sum of its parts than perhaps some of their previous records. It's probably dead centre in quality, and will be more than enough to satisfy the vast majority of their fanbase. Anyone who isn't a fan, however, won't have their minds changed in the slightest.
And that's about it. Power Up is an AC/DC album that is neither standout nor awful. The most impressive thing about it is how, well, electric they continue to sound in their 70s; not many artists of their age continue to sound this youthful. It's just another dose of their rollicking good time and you simply cannot knock them for that. It's nothing new - and in this case, that is actually a good thing.
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