AC/DC was “back in business,” thanks to the success of 1990s The Razors Edge, which contains “Moneytalks” and “Thunderstruck.” It was their first (and only) studio album with drummer Chris Slade; though, he wouldn’t last long as fate would have it that the boys would reunite with former drummer Phil Rudd, who left some big shoes to fill following his departure in 1983. The result was 1995’s Ballbreaker, the boys’ thirteenth (twelfth internationally released) studio album.
If you were to test my knowledge on AC/DC a year ago, I’d fail miserably. But I wasn’t clueless on them; my dad owns Highway to Hell (1979) and Back in Black (1980), and I’ve heard “Highway to Hell” on one of my favorite movies, Wild Hogs (2007). It wasn’t until I got into Queen back in November 2018 that I started embracing the rock genre more. I picked up on tracks like “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Snowballed,” “C.O.D.,” and of course, “Highway to Hell,” but I still had no clue who these guys were!
When COVID-19 hit, I started listening to more rock music to ease my anger and prevent me from yelling at my neighbors that weren’t taking the virus seriously. I indulged and researched bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Judas Priest, and AC/DC. The latter was one of those bands I became obsessed over.
Where the heck is this story going? Well, I went to Hollister this past summer (when malls first opened up again), and I was looking for band t-shirts; Hollister was the last place I expected to find one. But there, I found a vintage AC/DC shirt for their Ballbreaker album, and it had the tour dates on the back (I don’t know how accurate those dates are, but I still thought it was cool)! I guess I got lucky because I haven’t seen any band t-shirts there since then.
Here are pics of the shirt down below!
I remember for my post titled, Which Songs Should AC/DC Add to Their Setlist? I said that Ballbreaker was one of my favorite AC/DC albums. That was late September, then when a fellow blogger named Kevin gave a less-than-favorable review of the album, I told him that he’d have to prepare for mine, and we’ll talk more then! That time has come, my friend, and my words remain the same; Ballbreaker is still one of my favorite AC/DC albums ever!
Rudd’s hi-hat started things off with “Hard as a Rock,” and it’s so refreshing that it makes you go, “oh, thank goodness Phil Rudd is back!” Or maybe that’s just me, ok! With headphones on, you can hear the dynamic riffs of Malcolm and Angus Young; so bluesy and so melodic. The only thing is, I’ll never be able to look at or think of hot potatoes the same way ever again, which is a shame because I grew up with The Wiggles, and their best song is called “Hot Potatoes.”
“Cover You in Oil” is just inappropriate and dirty, sung by a guy that smokes way too many cigarettes (like the rest of the band). I love the song, though; it’s got a good groove that you can bob your head and a subtle bass riff. “The Furor” is one of AC/DC’s more serious songs. It starts with, “Kick the dust, wipe the crime from the main street / Await the coming of the lord / Hangin’ round with them low down and dirty / Bringing order from the boss.” I’m not crazy about the guitar riff or the chorus, but the best part of the song was Rudd jamming away on the hi-hat.
I’ll insert these lyrics here: “I like fine suits, smoke the best cigars / Like talking sex to women, girls in fast cars / I might be under the bed, ready to bite / So little girl, be careful, when you’re on your own tonight.” That’s from “Boogie Man,” downright naughty and groovy, courtesy of the Young brothers, Rudd and Cliff Williams. Oh, and Johnson screeching away! The next song was “The Honey Roll,” and I have no idea why it’s called that (“Honey roll over and lettuce on top”); there must be some sexual references in there I haven’t fully grasped yet. I like the chorus, and the lyrics are creative in that one.
Does “Burnin’ Alive” count as a deep cut? If it does, it’s one of my favorites. With the bass riff, the Young brothers’ synchronous prowess, and Johnson’s energy, just brilliant! “Hail Caesar” takes a gamble at politics in a humorous way. True story: The first time I watched the music video, it showed Angus Young in all these various scenarios (I think they inserted him with the President at one point), but all I could think about was how odd it was seeing Malcolm Young wearing a red tank top, versus his light purple tank!
There’s nothing special about “Love Bomb,” but it’s another fun track to bob your head to the groove; thank you, Phil Rudd! “Caught with Your Pants Down” is the weirdest AC/DC track I’ve ever heard, and I’ve listened to “Big Balls”! But I still like it because it’s fast-paced and funny in a way; based on the title, what did you expect?
You can hear Malcolm Young’s guitar crystal clear on “Whiskey on the Rocks,” every note he plays is done well. His brother Angus is going nuts in the background. I don’t drink anymore, but that’s a good drinking song. “Ballbreaker” sounds more innocent when you don’t read the lyrics, but it still kicks a**! Just picture Brian Johnson on a wrecking ball, Mal strumming that killer riff of his, and the boys repeating “Ballbreaker” over and over again!
Jokes aside, I love this album because the band refound themselves thanks to the return of Rudd. Other factors include Mal and Angus’ creative songwriting and powerful riffs; and Johnson’s less-than-perfect vocals with energy through the roof! I can’t summarize Williams on bass because I can’t hear him most of the time, but he does have his moments. I’d give this album 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite song is from Ballbreaker!
Take care and see ya real soon!