AC/DC - Power Up

AC/DC Power Up cover
Power Up
Well, who the heck am I to judge the granddaddies or boogie hard ass rock n roll?! Just a fan. And I’m not judging, it’s more of a survey and commenting on what I like and what I don’t. Album numero seventeen in a career that’s longer than my life… is no small thing. Especially considering that since the last album “Rock or Bust” and this one, the band almost disintegrated, with members leaving or being forced to leave – Williams calling it quits, Rudd kinda sacked for his legal troubles, Malcolm… I guess you know (RIP) and even BJ being forced to sit out half of the tour – which was completed with superstar Axl Rose (of GnR) as a guest vocalist… leaving only Angus there… well with more or less everyone back – with the exception of the late Malcolm – who’s replaced by his nephew Stevie – the gang is back… with more of exactly what you know and love.
Not a million miles away from “Rock or Bust” with more an emphasis on the rock n roll side of things; “Power Up” is not a half bad album… it’s nothing monumental but for a band that’s been through such an existential crisis – this recently… it’s definitely a reaffirmation of their right to rock, as hard as they want and still can.
The album opens with “Realize” a rather classic stomper, in the vein of “Big Guns” / “Thunderstruck” etc… maybe a tad tamer than those two classics, but cut of the fringes of their fabric…
“Rejection” has a biting riff with great dynamics – and the interplay between the guitars, while somewhat different, is the same when it all boils down. The good news is that Brian sounds mightily rejuvenated… after the unintended sabbatical he took from performing and I’d presume recording for health reasons.
While I wasn’t 100% convinced by the choice of “Shot in the Dark” as a single – its classic riffola and vibe – fully justify its creators. Anthemic in the vein of the lead off singles from the last few albums but probably better than most of them, bar “Stiff Upper Lip”.
“Through the Mists of Time” is the somewhat of a folk-rocked up number– in its own twisted way – reminiscent to some of the stuff on “RoB”… and it’s cool.
“Kick You When You’re Down” uses dynamics to the maximum along with an iconic riff. BJ’s sardonic delivery is almost on par with some of the best stuff he’s done while in Geordie... and it’s quite a highlight despite it being rather monolithic and one track minded. It takes its chance and runs with it…
“Witch’s Spell” fades in – is rather 80s sounding – but not exactly in the best way… yeah the riff’s good, but the chorus is not that hot and it’s not until the solo that the song picks up again. It’s not terrible, but it’s a little too by the numbers and cliché, but not in the best way imaginable.
“Demon Fire” takes the riff of “I Feel Safe in New York City” after another little self-reference in the intro and gives it all a new lick of paint, that sort of masks them just about… resulting in a pleasant, but not overtly original tune… but if you can dance to it – shut up and dance and quit whining… I guess.
“Wild Reputation” wins hands down in having a cliché-AF title, but come to think of it, these guys are not miming – anyone really – it’s their DNA and identity they’re flashing… and while this formidable mid-tempo number holds on its own, it won’t win any popularity contests either.
“No Man’s Land” has some wide panned guitars with a nice ring to them. Big sounding and while it won’t set the world on fire, it sure can scorch with the heat of its bravado.
“System’s Down” has a groovier, meaner riff and at least verse wise it feels able to make a difference… but the chorus is another soft letdown. Which is a damn shame.
“Money Shot” (ooer missus) is down and dirty(ier) and thankfully despite its leery old man’s innuendo is.... hot. Shit hot! A wee daft, but effective.
Last but deffo not least, “Code Red” has this dirty heavy blues vibe ala “Black Ice”, which works in a similar way as that song does… it does the dirty job of delivering the goods and the final blow, with the swagger that only a veteran can. Wham Bam – thank you ma’m. No thank you Angus and gang, more like it, for giving us another swig from yer bottle of pure rock! While not essential, this is potent and refreshing enough!