By Shane Brannagh for The Metal Voice
It’s been less than a fortnight since Malcolm Young passed away, after lengthy battle with dementia. Whilst the hard rock outfit have been plagued with preposterous bad luck in the past few years, with Brian Johnson’s hearing loss, Phil Rudd’s trouble with the law, and Cliff William’s inevitable departure, the reality of the situation has become evident. All good things must come to an end, with or without Axl Rose’s involvement.
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth quoted Malcolm Young, along with himself and James Hetfield, to be the finest rhythm guitarists in the industry. Angus himself had stated in the past, his elder brother was undoubtedly the better guitarist, and yet the machine that is Australia’s finest rock band rolls on, perhaps a shadow of their former self. Whilst “Rock or Bust” was undoubtedly a solid effort, I was prompted to revisit the bands back catalogue over the past few days, delving deeper into records, I thought little of before, and uncovering more than a few forgotten gems. Without further ado, here are (in my own humble opinion) AC/DC’s ten most underrated tracks.
10. Little Lover
A personal favourite of mine, simply because it’s unlike anything they recorded before or after. It’s slow, simple and yet just as laden down with sexual innuendo as the rest of High Voltage. Understated guitar work and a strong vocal performance by Mr. Bon Scott carry the track, that’s been largely overlooked.
9. The Razor’s Edge
From the album of the same name, “The Razor’s Edge” has earned a 9th place position, for similar reasons. It’s by no means a paint by the numbers track for the band. The song, is dark, heavy atmospheric even gloomy. The song has largely been omitted from their live set lists, since the early 90’s, but still remains a standout track from the album that revitalized the bands dwindling career, following a string of underperforming albums.
8. Shake Your Foundations
Fly on the Wall, is something of a black sheep, with regards to AC/DC’s back catalogue. The shoddy production, lack of hit singles and poor promotion meant that it sits as something of a placeholder between greater records. Nevertheless “Shake Your Foundations” is classic AC/DC, through and through, with one of their greatest choruses and some fantastic vocal work by Brian Johnson, even if it is somewhat buried in the mix.
7. Hold Me Back
This deep cut from 2003’s Stiff Upper Lip is a standout from one of the bands more forgettable efforts. It’s simple, stripped back production and strong guitar work elevate the song above the status of classic rock fodder. Nevertheless the track remains one of many, stellar deep cut’s from the band’s latter years, perhaps deserving of a little more love.
6. Dogs of War
The most recent entry from this list, is Rock or Bust’s “Dogs of War”. The track harkens back to Back in Black’s “Hell’s Bells” in its crisp production, and the confidence of its delivery hammers the message that the band aren’t done yet, most effectively. It’s an immensely energetic track that never lets up and stands as an underappreciated highlight of the album.
5. Two’s Up
“Two’s Up” is something of an anomaly in AC/DC’s back catalogue. This entry from the album “Blow Up Your Video” is almost morose, yet has the skeleton of a classic hard rock track. It features a rough cut vocal from Johnson and a stellar guitar solo from Angus. I would state it’s one of the bands most mature and honest tracks, and a standout from another mediocre album. Nevertheless the track receives little acknowledgement, and was inexplicably omitted from the worldwide tour, following the release of the album.
It’s short, sweet and a straight up serving of Rock and Roll in its purest form. Whilst the track was previously a mainstay of AC/DC’s live shows it’s been largely overlooked in recent years, despite its status as one of the bands catchiest songs. It features some of the Young brother’s finest guitar work, and it’s a fine representation of a rock and roll band and their most authentic.
Perhaps the most deliberate evidence of Angus and Malcolm’s attempts to return to their roots is present in the Flick of the Switch track “Landslide”. It’s a simple hard rock track that fires on all cylinders. It’s the band playing at the top of their game. Just a solid no frills deep cut that deserves more recognition than it gets.
2. Touch Too Much
This entry from 1979’s Highway to Hell, stands out as a track that’s something of a fan favourite. Nevertheless the album is remembered for its title track, “Shot Down in Flames” and “If You Want Blood.” In this sense “Touch too Much” is something of a forgotten gem, a solid effort on an album of standout tracks. The song features a fantastic vocal effort by Bon and memorable lyrics to match. It’s undoubtedly one of AC/DC’s strongest tracks but nevertheless, is often overlooked.
1. Burnin’ Alive
My personal favourite AC/DC track, and one I only recently encountered when listening through Ballbreaker, for lack of ever really giving the record its due. The song is solid, through and through. Has a strong memorable riff that carries through, an incredible vocal performance by Brian Johnson and one of Angus’s best guitar solos. It’s a damn shame this forgotten track has never been played live, but what can you do?
So there you have it….My personal ranking of AC/DC’s most underrated tracks. Thoughts? Criticisms? Your own personal ranking? Comment Below…
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