AC/DC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ Has Grown on Me! | Album Review

My goal for the Spring semester is to finish reviewing all of AC/DC’s international studio album releases. So I’m hoping to cover all of their albums by mid to late March. I reviewed High Voltage (1976) already, so if you haven’t already, go check it out! 

The next album on the list is Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976). While Australia and Europe enjoyed the album the year it was released, the U.S. didn’t get it until 1981, a year after former vocalist Bon Scott passed away. So yeah, that was nice. I don’t understand why it took Atlantic, the band’s record label at the time, so long to release the dang album in the states. The A&R people in the U.S. thought the album was too raw, Scott’s lyrics were hard to understand, and that AC/DC wouldn’t get much airplay on the U.S. radio stations. Ha!

When they finally released Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, the band already introduced their new singer Brian Johnson to the world, and they were working on For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981). I can’t imagine how confusing that must’ve been for fans after listening to Back in Black (1980) with Johnson and then switching to Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap with Scott, especially since both vocalists sound entirely different. It also took away the spark from For Those About to Rock We Salute You because Dirty Deeds sold more copies than the previously mentioned, and AC/DC had to add songs from Dirty Deeds to their setlist for the respective tour. 

The international and the Australian releases had different songs, too. Unlike the original album, “R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)” and “Jailbreak” were replaced with “Love at First Feel” and “Rocker.” That irritates me a lot because I love “Jailbreak,” and if I wanted a physical copy of that song, I’d have to buy ’74 Jailbreak (1984) because apparently, Atlantic didn’t think we needed that song! I’m getting worked up here; let’s move on to the songs that are actually on the album.

The dynamic Young brothers kick off the album with “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and I like it a lot! I know, original, right? It’s got a great riff, Phil Rudd’s drums are kicking, Malcolm Young sings like he has a frog in his throat (thanks for pointing that out, Mike Ladano!), and I love the references to “T.N.T.” and “High Voltage.” Malcolm’s guitar tone is solid on “Love at First Feel,” and Scott sounds like he could woo any woman he wanted to. I couldn’t stop laughing at “Big Balls,” like seriously, how did people think these guys were devil worshippers? Scott sings sarcastically and puts on a show by bragging about having “the biggest balls of them all.”

“Rocker” is an odd one because Scott sings like he’s out of breath. The tempo of the song and the lyrics don’t match up, and the track sounds chaotic. I have precious memories of “Problem Child” because, as noted in my review for Stiff Upper Lip Live (2001), I downloaded the song after watching that concert for the first time. The Young brothers kick you in the face with those riffs, and Angus’ guitar solo is so tasteful. I downloaded the version from Let There Be Rock (1977), and I had no idea Dirty Deeds had the track as well. I prefer the Let There Be Rock version since it’s 20 seconds shorter. I think the version on Dirty Deeds is too long with the instrumental, and Scott is just singing “Problem Child” repeatedly.

“There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin'” features punchy guitar work by the Young brothers, but the lyrics are lame, and the vibe is unsatisfying. Come on, “there’s gonna be some rockin'”? You can do better than that, boys! I didn’t even hear a big bass drum like Scott mentioned. “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)” is another interesting one. I love the riff, and Rudd’s drums are stomping, but like “Problem Child,” it is a bit too long. If it were two minutes shorter, I would’ve loved it, but no, it’s almost seven bloody minutes! The original is seven and a half minutes. 

“Ride On” is hands down the best song on the album because it’s a ballad, and it’s so bluesy! Angus delivers all the feels with his guitar solo. And the lyrics too, have a look: “It’s another lonely evenin’ / In another lonely town / But I ain’t too young to worry / And I ain’t too old to cry / When a woman gets me down.” It’s a major mood change from the previous album tracks, for sure. I was going to complain about not hearing the bass, but then “Squealer” comes on, and that is one sick bass riff! Scott is back to being his charming self, Angus’ wild guitar solo is magnificent, and the boys end the album on a high note.

Dirty Deeds isn’t my favorite AC/DC album, but I like it more now than I did six months ago. Again, I can hear the drums, the guitars, and the vocals, but not the bass. It wasn’t until the last song that I finally heard Mark Evans, former bass player for the band. As for Scott’s singing, I can’t make out his lyrics half of the time, and it sounds like he jams all of his words together. I’ll give Atlantic A&R that one. However, Malcolm did a brilliant job on the backing vocals, considering it was just him before Cliff Williams came along. I would give this album 3.5 out of 5, maybe 3 out of 5 stars, because the only standout tracks to me were the title track and “Ride On.”

Let me know in the comments below what your favorite track is from Dirty Deeds!

Take care and see ya real soon!

Lana

26 thoughts on “AC/DC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ Has Grown on Me! | Album Review

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    1. ‘For Those About to Rock’ is one of my favorite AC/DC albums too, so that irritated me even more. The boys worked so hard on that album, only for the hype to go towards an album that was released 5 years earlier.

      Right?!?! That song is hilarious! I can picture Bon smiling while recording “Big Balls.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I bet Bon had a right giggle with it. I know what you mean about being irritated. They probably should have waited about six months after the release of For Those About to Rock to release Dirty Deeds but that’s hindsight for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would’ve preferred a year after For Those About to Rock, just so they would’ve released an album a year apart. Flick of the Switch after all was the first AC/DC album to have a 2 year gap between their studio albums.

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    1. Three LP copies? Well on the bright side, you’ll have extras in case you misplace one or it breaks! The confusion bit was a good excuse for me to rant about that lol! Glad you enjoyed the review Aaron!

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      1. That’s good and smart of you not to spend too much money on records. Then again, you have a lot of music in your collection, so I’m sure the cost added up. Right?

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      2. I suppose if you added up what’s been spent over time it might look scary. One or two at a time, though, not so bad. I’ve also done a couple of culls of the collection and gotten money back (which just bought more records later…). It’s my hobby. I don’t drink or smoke, I drive a 13 year old car, I’m otherwise pretty boring. So I buy cheap records and enjoy them.

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  1. Solid review, Lana! This was a tough one for me to review because I prefer the Aussie version. But it looks like the powers that be have steered the ship toward the International version being the norm. I’m told that they have even taken over in Australia. Still, I can’t knock the music on here. Good times. I even like the boogie of Gonna Be Some Rockin’. There is even a longer version of Ain’t No Fun on Backtracks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I prefer the Australian release as well. So stupid though, why couldn’t they release the same songs for both versions? Especially since we’d have to spend money on boxsets/releases if we want the tracks that are on the Australian release. Yeah Ain’t No Fun is way too long already lol. Glad you enjoyed the review Kevin!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have little doubt that Atlantic didn’t want to pay Chuck Berry for the cover of School Days on T.N.T., so they dropped it and took a couple of songs off of Aussie High Voltage to make the international version. Beyond that, I have no idea what they were thinking. Dropping Jailbreak and RIP from DDDDC for Rocker and Love at First Feel makes no sense.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They ended up releasing RIP, School Days, and Jailbreak later on anyways. Things got expensive overtime, so why couldn’t they just pay for the Chuck Berry cover back then? Yeah speaking of Jailbreak, they should bring that one back into their setlist. They haven’t played that one with Phil since the late 70s.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. They would have had to continue to pay Chuck for the royalties for the song. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap and AC/DC would have been a risky investment in the ’70s. No one knew they were going to be one of the best selling band of all time.

        Yeah, your right about Jailbreak. I don’t believe there is a version of Phil playing it live anywhere.

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    1. Yeah, I remember it was your number one AC/DC album on your livestream ranking top 10 albums of theirs right? I think I started looking at that album differently after watching that episode.

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  2. “Rocker” is way better on the If You Want Blood live album. Totally transforms the song. The studio version here was originally on the Australian only release TNT. Most of that album became the album High Voltage, the international version that most of us know. The original Australian High Voltage is totally different than the international one except for “Little Lover” and “She’s Got Balls”, which are included on the international High Voltage. The rest of the international High Voltage is from TNT. The only thing off TNT not to be released internationally was the cover of Chuck Berry’s School Days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I still don’t get why the record company had to give the states different versions of the albums. Though it did make for good reasons to buy their boxsets, it’s so inconvenient. If most of the TNT album is on the international High Voltage, they should’ve just released that in the states as well. I was so close to buying ‘If You Want Blood,’ but I’m not a huge live album person, but they do sound better live.

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      1. That live album is a scorcher! One of my favorites. Several songs sound better on it, they really let the songs jam. Bon sounds vicious, like he’s going to hit you with a flower.

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  3. Record labels have always been out of touch. “Rocker” was also briefly quoted in 1979’s Mad Max. I wonder if the lyrics were kept in the stupid American dub.

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