|By Charlie Goodrich||Wednesday, 20 Jun 2007|
Things started out with a BANG in 1976 when AC/DC’s first American album was released, High Voltage. I mention that this is their first U.S. album because the band already released a different version of High Voltage and T.N.T. in Australia and Britain. The High Voltage I will review is the U.S. release that combines the two previous albums and adds some new songs. Every song on High Voltage is either about women, rock, or living wild. Standard topics for AC/DC, and they make this a fine album for any rock collection.
On the rock side we have “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll),” “High Voltage,” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer.” It’s a Long Way to the Top” and Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer” are the two beginning songs. Both tracks begin with a similar guitar intro that builds as a second guitar, bass, and drums are introduced. Finally, the wailing voice of Bon Scott completes the AC/DC experience. “It’s a Long Way to the Top” acts like the epic piece of this album. It represents AC/DC’s emergence from struggling as an early band to becoming a recognizable and legitimate band. This track is also one of the more diverse AC/DC songs because it incorporates bagpipes. Regardless of your feelings towards bagpipes, they sound excellent and embrace the Scottish heritage of the Young brothers and Scott. “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer” is a little slower than “It’s a Long Way to the Top” but it is a perfect follow up song. Detailing Scott’s desire to be a singer since he was born, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer” is a well written song that speaks of not wanting to work 9 to 5, having your name in lights, and not following moral standards. “High Voltage” also profiles the rock lifestyle. It is about the rush of performing live and the energy that you get from being on stage in front of people. “It’s a Long Way” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer” provide a great one-two punch for beginning High Voltage while “High Voltage” wonderfully concludes the album and brings it full circle.
On to something AC/DC has never been shy of, women. “Little Lover”, “The Jack”, “She’s Got Balls”, and “Can I Sit Next to you Girl” are the four songs about women. “The Jack” is one of the best-written AC/DC songs of all time. The song’s title refers to Gonorrhea and chronicles one woman who sleeps around. It is a clever song that uses poker terms as euphemisms to describe her whoring ways. “Little Lover” and “Can I Sit Next to you Girl” are about picking up (or trying to pick up) women. “Can I Sit Next to you Girl” is an attempt to pick up a girl until her boy friend shows up, and “Little Lover” is about meeting a girl back stage after a gig. Okay songs but nothing special. “She’s Got Balls” is about Bon’s wife. This is another okay song. All Bon does is sing about how she is lady like but is assertive when she needs to be. Asides from “The Jack”, these songs are forgettable.
“Live Wire” and “T.N.T.” round out High Voltage. These two entrees are great songs. Both are about being young and rambunctious. Other than “It’s a Long Way to the Top”, “Live Wire” is the stand out instrumental piece on this album. The bass helps drive this song and the guitar work is top notch. The pace of “Live Wire” slows down and picks up at just the right times. Now we go from an underrated song to an overrated one. The familiar chanting of “Oi” begins “T.N.T.”. This song is about a man returning to a town he once terrorized and promising to revisit to his old ways. “T.N.T.” is a good rock song, but at best it is the third best song on this album. Compared to what can be found on this album it is overrated; however, it is still a fun song to listen to.
The songs about rock are great, the songs about women okay, and the songs about living wild are okay. AC/DC hit the U.S. pretty well for a first album. I am surprised about some of the song choices they made considering “Live Wire” is mostly made up of songs released in Europe and Australia. Regardless, if you enjoy AC/DC this is one album you should buy. It showcases their early hits and lets you sample the roots of a great band.