Travel back to the Rock or Bust era. Phil Rudd had to face his demons and couldn’t participate in the tour; Brian Johnson had to step out during the fifth leg of the tour or risk hearing loss, and Cliff Williams decided that he had enough. By that point, the only members left were Angus Young and Stevie Young. There have been talks that AC/DC was finally pulling the plug on the rocking machine that Angus and his late brother/founding member Malcolm Young formed back in the early 70s. Flash forward to 2020, where life couldn’t be better (haha covid), the boys gave us Power Up (2020).
It is the band’s 17th (16th internationally released) studio album. Produced by Brendan O’Brien, Power Up is not only a killer AC/DC record filled with memorable riffs and fun headbanging jams, but it is also a tribute to Mal.
Rudd’s hi-hat kicks off the album with “Realize.” Great backing vocals from Williams and Stevie Young and Johnson’s voice is clean and polished. It’s clear that Johnson doesn’t take “Rejection” lightly, and neither do the rest of the guys. With Rudd’s solid groove and the Youngs’ synergy, these guys know how to kick a**! “Shot in the Dark” is an AC/DC classic! It’s not their best, but it brings familiarity, and you know it’s them by listening to the opening riff. There is a subtle bass riff in there too, which makes me appreciate the song even more.
“Through the Mists of Time” is the best song the boys have released in years! It took on a new meaning once fans started using it in tribute videos for Mal. Have you ever heard of an emotional roller coaster ride? “Kick You When You’re Down” has a funky vibe to it. Oh yeah, the bass turned up, drums kick in, and Stevie Young delivers the goods.
“Witch’s Spell” is another headbanging classic, and Stevie’s guitar pierces the whole way through. Where did they come up with these titles, by the way? “Witch’s Spell,” “Through the Mists of Time,” and “Realize”? Who knows! “Demon’s Fire” has a similar vibe to “Safe in New York City” because the human metronome doesn’t miss a beat, and it features a riff from Satan himself. Does AC/DC have a “Wild Reputation”? “Oh yeah”! Nah, but I found it adorable how they were trying to be bad boys.
Just like “Witch’s Spell,” Stevie’s guitar pierces the whole way through on “Systems Down.” What is the anecdote on “Money Shot”? Only a brilliant guitar solo by Angus and his nephew leading the rhythm section. Once again, Rudd’s hi-hat is in full swing on “Code Red,” Johnson wails up a storm, and it has a Led Zeppelin type of vibe.
Overall, Power Up is so current and just what 2020 needed! The backing vocals were spot-on; Rudd brought simple but effective drumming, and Johnson howled like there’s no tomorrow! Stevie showed his chops, Angus ran wild, and Williams did his best to stay out of Angus’ way (while still having his moments). The boys returned, paid their dirty deeds, and survived every obstacle the world threw at them, proving that nothing could stop the AC/DC train! I’d rank this album 4 out of 5 stars.
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite song is from Power Up!
Take care and see ya real soon!