The introductory notes of the latest AC/DC album Rock or Bust are instantly recognizable as AC/DC, it even has a hint of “Highway to Hell” in it. That is what fans have come to expect from AC/DC and there have been some fans that have joked that every AC/DC album sounds the same, and while that is true to a certain extent, isn’t that what has been the key to the group’s success?
While Rock or Bust is not groundbreaking, it is another chapter in the story of a band that has never wavered from their original charge, to be the best hard rock band in the world and keep the spirit of the blues alive.
Yes, AC/DC is not just a bunch of blokes that scream and shuffle around the same notes, at their core they play hard charging blues, a music that originated in America and refined in Europe.
As far as consistency, unlike so many bands that have imploded after major lineup changes, AC/DC has charged forward without losing a beat, and they still do what a rock band is supposed to do, record an album and then go out and tour behind it.
That speaks volumes about AC/DC, because let’s be realistic, if they had stopped recording albums after Back in Black and constructed a lineup of polished musicians to reproduce their works note for note they could have lived a happy life.
Instead, they remain consistent and loyal to their fan base, and even though it takes longer now, they crank out an album of original material, all the while eschewing whatever the current musical trend is, something even The Rolling Stones could not resist as is evidenced by their foray into disco “Emotional Rescue.”
AC/DC was also able to survive a change in lead singers with respect and dignity to the legacy of Bon Scott. While Brian Johnson’s tenure as lead singer has well surpassed that of Bon Scott’s, the band has never sought to shy away from Scott’s contributions.
Such is the case with rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, who was replaced by his nephew Stevie, the only person with the proper DNA to fill that role.
Malcolm’s departure means that Angus Young is the only remaining member that appeared on all of AC/DC’s studio albums, and if drummer Phil Rudd does not come back, when AC/DC performs songs like “The Jack” and “T.N.T” Angus will be the only member that played on the original recording.
That makes the group’s consistency over the years even more astounding, but then again, if you listen to those early recordings they are a lot different than what we hear on Rock or Bust, so maybe AC/DC has slowly evolved over the years in a way that was subtle, done with finesse instead of force feeding a new sound to fans that fell in love with the band the first time they heard Bon sing “I’m Dynamite” on “T.N.T”.