In recent days, the news has broke that it doesn’t look like rhythm guitarist Malcom Young will be returning to AC/DC due to an undisclosed illness. We wish you well, Malcom, and hope for a full and speedy recovery from whatever it is that ails you.
Now before I continue on, you are probably saying “why is there a post about AC/DC on Progarchy, of all sites?” Well, let me explain.
First of all, it’s true that AC/DC is nothing close to prog, nor are they the most artistic band in the world to put it mildly. But every yin needs its yang, and as much as I love the complexities and artistry of good prog rock, there are still times when I want to simply put the pedal to the metal, so to speak, and listen to something that is loud, simple, and just flat out rocks with no pretension of being anything else. AC/DC certainly fits the bill for that.
I’ve always thought of them as “audio testosterone.” As far as their sound, well, it hasn’t changed much over the years. To quote Malcom’s more visible brother Angus from an interview years ago:
I’m sick to death of people saying we’ve made 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve made 12 albums that sound exactly the same.
Most of their songs are loud, rhythmically simple, and rely on a progression of three or four power chords or some other repetitive arpeggiated riff. There is some decent guitar soloing by Angus Young, made all the more impressive during live shows by his constant gyrations resembling something like that of an highly active four year old boy who just downed a double shot espresso from Starbucks. But mostly, it’s simple chords, simple bass, simple drums, 4/4 and all that.
Still, these self-imposed musical limitations matter not. As comedian Jim Breuer once stated, they could do the Hokey Pokey and tear it up (totally safe for work, and very funny):
How about lyrically? Well, here’s a phrase that has never, ever been uttered before in all of human history:
I’m not familiar with Greek mythology, therefore I don’t understand AC/DC lyrics.
Let’s face it, the song Hard as a Rock is not about the myth of Sisyphus. What Do You Do For Money, Honey is not a meditation on the writings of Adam Smith. And Hell Ain’t A Bad Place to Be has absolutely nothing to do with Dante’s Inferno.
And you know what? I don’t care. I love these guys anyway. If I was in my 20’s, back in college and heading for a party to blow off some steam after a hard week of studying, there are few bands whose music I would like to hear blaring from the speakers more than AC/DC.
I could go on and on trying to extol the virtues of AC/DC, but as the old saying goes, a video is worth a thousand words (it appears something was garbled in the translation). So indulge me here for a few minutes and watch this, or at least part of it. And what I want you to pay particular attention to is the crowd. After the break, I have a few more thoughts.
So let me ask you a few things about the people in the crowd? How many of them appeared to be wallowing in existential despair? How many of them were having a dark night of the soul? How many in that crowd are lamenting the injustices of life, indulging in self-pity, or stressing out about the next mortgage payment? The answer to all of those questions is a big, fat ZERO! No, what they are doing is having fun, getting their butts rocked off, and just simply living – truly living – in the moment. As the character Miles says in Risky Business, sometime you just gotta say what the … well, you know.
Getting back to the impetus for this piece, I again wish you well, Malcom. For those of you that include prayer as part of your daily lives, please send one or two his way. And to the rest of the members of AC/DC who plan to carry on and release another album later this year, what else can I say but … for those about to rock, I salute you!