AC/DC – High Voltage (1976)
Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo where, this week, we’re taking a listen to a group that really knows how to rock; AC/DC. Originally comprised of Bon Scott, Phil Rudd, Malcolm Young, and Angus Young, the band went through a few changes to their lineup, most notably the addition of Brian Johnson after the death of Bon Scott and the addition of Axl Rose after Johnson’s retirement in 2016. High Voltage was the first international release by the Australian outfit and contained material from their first two in their home country, the domestic version of High Voltage and T.N.T. High Voltage was met with mixed reviews, with some praising the rockers for their boldness while others called it stupid rock music (paraphrasing of course).
Personally, I see some good and some bad as far as this album is concerned. A lot of the songs on this album were among the first to introduce me to classic rock, but they’re the band’s big songs. Some of the deeper cuts didn’t quite make my cut, and I typically found them to be repetitive and obnoxious when I didn’t enjoy them. Take a listen and see what you think. Repetitive, or a classic rock trope? The choice is yours, enjoy the album!
Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown
It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock N Roll): We start High Voltage with a hit song and a strong start. The anthemic nature of “It’s a Long Way to the Top” struck me as ironic considering its lyrics warn of the difficulty of being a rock and roll act. On the other hand, I also don’t care that much because the song just rocks that hard. I know of exactly 0 other bands that can incorporate a bagpipe into a rock song, but AC/DC did it seamlessly somehow. That creativity is fantastic and shows that they have more to offer than a regular rock band. Dad’s Rating 9/10
Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer” follows a very similar sound to “Long Way to the Top.” This track feels like a continuation of the former and even follows a similar theme. Where the first is a warning about how difficult it is to make it as a rock star, this song is more of a dream and how the protagonist is going to “get to the top.” Musically, this is another song with a classic sound. This is no-frills rock music and the band plays it loud and guitar forward. Big chords, big sound, big song. Dad’s Rating 8/10
The Jack: “The Jack” was one of my least favorite songs on this album. I don’t feel like it shows off everything that the band is capable of and the vocals remind me of Tim Curry’s rendition of “Sweet Transvestite” from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Unfortunately for this song too, it’s almost six minutes long, making it go on forever. Not the band’s best work. Dad’s Rating 3/10
Live Wire: This is better than “The Jack,” but “Live Wire” fails to impress significantly. I can hear bits of what would become “Thunderstruck” in how the major chords are played, so that’s neat to hear the “origin story” of a great song. Ultimately, this is an average, if forgettable song. Dad’s Rating 5/10
T.N.T.: “T.N.T” is an explosive track, one of my favorite rock tracks of all time, and I credit this as one of the songs that piqued my interest in rock music. I love the big riffs, the callousness of the song, the shredding guitar solo, and how un-pretentious it is. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy art, glam, and progressive rock, but sometimes you just need to rock out, and “T.N.T.” is one of my go-to songs. Dad’s Rating 10/10
Can I Sit Next to You Girl: I have mixed feelings about this track. On one hand, “Can I Sit Next to You Girl” is a rocking track. Everything is really solid, the musicianship is energetic and fun to listen to, and at least part of the way through the song, the vocals are great. I like Scott’s timbre (vocal quality) on this track, but I dislike how often the phrase ‘Can I sit next to you girl?’ is repeated throughout the song. It doesn’t add anything and detracts from the listening experience. Dad’s Rating 5/10
Little Lover: I really liked “Little Lover.” This song has a great slow, deep, rolling feeling that is broken up by a hell of a technical guitar solo. The picking section of the solo is really well done, and the slow tempo of the song gives this track such a big sound. The chords are played hard and slow to really emphasize the music. Great song here and definitely worth listening to. Dad’s Rating 7/10
She’s Got Balls: “She’s Got Balls” is one of the better-known AC/DC songs from their early years and it sounds like a continuation of “Little Lover.” I really like when artists manage to make the album flow seamlessly from one track to another. As luck would have it, “Little Lover” and “She’s Got Balls” were two of the first songs written for the album. This song is supposed to be about lead singer Bon Scott’s ex-wife, giving this track just a little more of a personal message. Musically, it’s an average track. The vocals really stand out here with Scott howling the phrase “She’s got baaaaaaalls,” ad nauseum, and that gives me a chuckle every time I listen to the song. Despite average musicianship, it’s a fun song that’s worth a listen. Dad’s Rating 5.5/10
High Voltage: The record closes with its namesake track, “High Voltage.” The band saved one of the best for last, proverbially. This really is a “high voltage, rock and roll” kind of song. The energy that we love to hear from the band is front and center to close the album with great riffs, a big solo, and wild vocals. Turn it up and rock on! Dad’s Rating 7/10
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