A few pickups following RSD back in April and prior to our trip to a few weeks ago Montreal.
Be sure to check out Sarca’s blog right here!
A few pickups following RSD back in April and prior to our trip to a few weeks ago Montreal.
Be sure to check out Sarca’s blog right here!
In the summer of 1993 I had bought my first copy of AC/DC’s Back in Black on cassette from Sam The Record Man in the New Sudbury Shopping Centre. I was 16 years old, the album was already 13 years old, and I believe the asking price was $8.99.
It wasn’t my first AC/DC album (That honour will forever belong to Who Made Who), but it quickly became (and still is) my favourite album of all time. Most fans I know have tired of Back in Black’s overplayed tracks and lean toward the deeper cuts on Powerage or perhaps Let There Be Rock as their favs, but fatigue never set in for me. Even as I write this post I threw it on the turntable and did a little Angus dance when ‘What Do You Do For Money Honey’ came on.
I find it difficult to describe why I enjoy Back in Black so much, which why my mission to review all things AC/DC hit a wall. I’ve started and stalled this review several times as I tried to attack it from different angles, but none felt right. I even attempted to do a mock review where I’d make the case that the album never existed; a satirical take on the conspiracy that former lead singer Bon Scott wrote many of it tunes while Brian Johnson got the credit. I couldn’t make it work though and I am somewhat tired of the topic after already covering it at length.
Perhaps I can speak about the criticism AC/DC receives for all of their tunes sounding alike. A notion that has never been the case for me, and I can’t explain why. I sort of do hear it on the straight up 4/4 rockers like ‘What do you Do For Money Honey‘ and ‘Given’ The Dog A Bone‘. Both have a similar vibe with lyrics that would earn them an F- from the #MeToo movement.
But there is the slow metal tune, ‘Hells Bells‘. The bright, pop of ‘You Shook Me All Night Long‘ and the blues shuffle of ‘Rock ‘N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution‘. ‘Let Me Put My Love Into You Babe‘ has that Muddy Waters Chicago blues vibe. I listen to ‘Shoot To Thrill‘ and ‘Have A Drink On Me‘ and hear two different songs.
I was in college when Ballbreaker was released, and one of my roommates attempted to show me how its latest single ‘Hard As A Rock’ sounded exactly like their The Razor’s Edge hit ‘Thunderstruck’. No matter how many times we played both tracks and he banged away to the rhythm of both tunes on his thigh, I remained lost as to how. It’s my hang up I suppose since more people tell me all of their tracks sound alike than don’t.
And how about the number of times I purchased Back in Black? First came the previously mentioned cassette, then CD, vinyl, remastered CD, the copy included in the Bonfire Boxset, and finally the 2003 remaster. Five times in total…. feels like it was more. Hmmm… maybe that Dual Disc version with the bonus DVD is something I should look into. And perhaps a new vinyl “play copy” to preserve my OG copy would be a good idea… Besides, 7 is a lucky number of copies to have owned in one’s lifetime.
Then there are the memories. I remember introducing Sarah to AC/DC with Back in Black and was floored by how much she enjoyed it. The time my buddy Frank and I had loaded up on CDs for a long car trip, but the player didn’t work and we were stuck listening to Back in Black on a loop for four hours as it was the only cassette I had in the car. Or the time Mom barged in my room when I was a teenager to complain that the music was too loud. I quickly turned it down and was nervous she would take my Back in Black tape away because ‘Given’ the Dog A Bone’ was playing and Brian was singing about blow jobs.
Instead she said, “You can’t understand a thing that guy is saying. What is with you listening to him yell at you? Didn’t I yell at you enough when you were a kid?”
I almost replied, “If you understood what he is saying you did you wouldn’t let me listen to it!”, but I played it smart and said, “Ha, Ha. Yeah Mom. I like crap music”. She left, satisfied with my usual sarcastic response. Phew!
If a time machine became a reality most people would use it for science or to kill Hitler or something. But I’d head to 1980 and grab a front row seat for an AC/DC concert right after Back in Black came out. Listen to how solid this band was in their prime:
Hot damn! That look too! Brian in the Harley Davidson shirt, Angus sporting the much preferred green school boy outfit with a brown SG, and all you can make out from the boys in the back is some long rocker hair peeking through the darkness.
I have a strong opinion for every AC/DC album as to why it does or doesn’t work. But this one is just too close to the heart for me. All I can hear is perfection.
As an AC/DC album: 5/5
Compared to everything else: In a league of its own
I was thinking about this on my ride home Friday night and jotted it down as something to write about this weekend. I checked the Acca Dacca news this morning and the first article that pops up is:
I almost scrapped the idea this morning but then I started thinking, “What does this loudersound.com got that buriedonmars.wordpress.com doesn’t?”
They only have more readers, clever writers, and they beat me to the punch by about two days… but they don’t have ME and MY thoughts on who I think should be playing bass for AC/DC right now. So, let’s speculate and get some click bait out! Here are my picks:
Cliff had been with the band since 1977 and was part of a winning formula. Why mess with what isn’t broken? The only issue is his retirement “from the music industry” following the Rock or Bust tour. That includes touring AND recording. Yeah, that’s a bit of a snag. But that doesn’t mean Angus couldn’t give him a ring with the idea of recording the album and getting a session musician to work the tour. I don’t feel this is likely to happen, or that Cliff would agree to it, but it is the most ideal outcome for me.
Duff is the most ideal replacement outside of Cliff. I’m not the biggest Guns ‘N Roses fan outside of Appetite for Destruction, but I can’t deny how well his approach to the instrument would fit AC/DC. Plus, Angus already has a relationship with Gunners, and Axl did work out very well for the band.
Mark was AC/DC’s bass player in the early days for about three years and made it onto three iconic albums from the Bon Scott era: T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and Let There Be Rock. I’ve watched and read interviews with Mark online and he seems like a cool dude, but I get the impression the reason for his firing was that he was not up to the task. But that was 40 years ago and attitudes do change. I believe it is unlikely to happen, but something similar did occur for The Razor’s Edge drummer Chris Slade who was called in for the Rock or Bust tour.
Geezer Butler is a founding member of Black Sabbath, and therefore, Heavy Metal. Sabbath is now officially done and there has been no news of him working on any side projects in the works. So, as far as I know, he has nothing going on right now. But the understated approach Angus prefers from his bass players wouldn’t mesh will with Geezer’s ferocious attack on the fret board. Sure, producer George Young slipped a few walking bass lines on some early AC/DC tunes (High Voltage), but it rarely has happened since. Geezer would require more freedom than AC/DC could allow him, but dang it, he is my favourite bass player and it would be cool to see it happen.
We’re probably running into the same issue as we have with Geezer here. Rex’s style is influenced by jazz music, and more specifically John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. But he has had some financial issues in the recent past, just lost his long time friend Vinnie Paul, and his solo album released last year made little noise. So, perhaps the dude might be motivated by cash, and the distraction to hammer a few tunes out and tour. Plus, I know he is a fan.
Scott Ian’s favourite band might be KISS, but he sure is on TV talking about his admiration and respect for AC/DC a lot. I believe he has an Angus tattoo somewhere on his body as well. He is mostly known for being a major riff cruncher on the six string for one of the greatest thrash metal bands of all time, but he can handle the bass just fine:
He seems like a guy who would know and understand the gig, and it would be fun to see him tour with the band.
Of course a session musician would be needed for the likely following tour, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Angus already has a blue print laid out for the bass parts on the new album. They might even be using Angus’ ruff bass tracks to work with right now. And you know, it might be fun if they just kept those for the final product.
So, who will really have his (or her) name beside the bass guitar credit on the new album? Probably no one I mentioned since I’m usually wrong about this stuff. But, at least I had a little fun while writing this and wasting your time!
An update to yesterday’s post where current/former members of AC/DC, lead singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd, were photographed in Vancouver, the city in which the band had recorded their last three albums.
This, along with the reported sighting of rhythm guitarist Stevie Young with Phil in Vancouver a week prior, was to me a signal that AC/DC was back the studio recording a new album. But some of who I chatted away with yesterday pointed out how the lack the band’s lead guitarist/Grand Poobah Angus Young presence was a sign of other things.
For one, this could be a solo/side/or new band project thrown together by the former(?) band members. While others noted how the photo could have been taken in 2014 during the band’s Rock or Bust recordings. Another internet hoax set to get a reaction out of a loyal fan base.
Out of both of those possibilities I think I could live with the internet hoax best. The thought of an album forged by former AC/DC band members without any involvement from Angus would be a very weird thing for me to know exists in this universe.
Well, I got some good news this AM forwarded to me by LeBrain of mikeladano.com fame:
Yep, the creeps* who wait outside a Vancouver recording studio to snap a photo of the band members successfully captured Angus lighting a cigarette for Stevie Young on the same deck Brain and Phil were on yesterday. At the very least this should mean that if there is a side project afoot, Angus will be involved in some capacity, which can sit well with me. But I believe it is by far more likely that AC/DC is back, and rejoined by Brian and Phil. This makes every willing and able band member who recorded Back In Black is congealed as a single unit again! Huzzah!
While I’m not blind to the fact that this could still be a hoax, I think it is unlikely. Surely by now there would be an official statement from AC/DC or any current/former band members denouncing the rumors. Or some studious fans would have compared similar photos taken in 2014 to reveal the hoax. Maybe not, but probably.
Seeing AC/DC move into the recording studio relatively quickly after a tour confirms another belief I have had for the past decade or so. Following the early ’90’s The Razor’s Edge tour, AC/DC have taken an almost 3-4, sometimes 5 year break after a tour before recording again. I believed this was due to either Angus or Malcolm unable to keep up with the pace of recording directly after touring. (Any other band member would have been kicked out, lol)
Apologies for the cold notion, but now that Malcolm and his time with the band have passed, Angus is free to get back to his desired schedule. This band never stops working unless it has too!
*I say creeps with peace and love. Without them we would never know any of this was going down and I only befit from their dedication to my beloved band.
AC/DC or Axl/DC or a close proximity to either version of the band might be recording in Vancouver right now. No facts are involved in that statement, only rumors, so take it all with heavy grains of salt… but it does look like something is happening.
About a week ago the rumors began to fly with the sighting of AC/DC’s current rhythm guitarist Stevie Young with none other than on/off/on/off and no now maybe on again AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd in Vancouver, the city in which the band recorded their last three albums.
Interesting indeed, but a guy telling another guy that he spoke with two band members is hardly solid reporting. But now… we have a blurry photo of Phil Rudd in Vancouver to go along with it.
The photo is taken by someone who lives by the studio AC/DC is known to record in, waiting to snap a photo of a band member hanging outside for a break. Yeah, it’s creepy… but without this creep we would not know who is hanging with Phil right now. None other than AC/DC’s on/off and now maybe on again lead singer Brian Johnson!
Whoa! Wasn’t expecting that one! I mean, I hoped for it. But after Brian’s relationship with lead guitarist/founding member Angus Young, hit a wall in March of 2016 I was certain he would not be coming back. Brian seemed to have a hearing problem that would not allow him to perform live… but then he didn’t… but Angus abruptly showed him the door to an early retirement anyway.
Having just come off the departure AC/DC’s co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young due to illness, then the bizarre case of Phil Rudd’s “procuring a murder” scandal of 2015 (The charges of which were quickly dropped, but at the time the accusations were still in the air), you then had to deal with Axl Rose of all people filling in for Brian.
To the casual fan, Axl Rose, the long time temperamental lead singer of Guns ‘n Roses would seem like a natural fit. Both G ‘N R and Acca Dacca have similarities in the style of music that they play… but to a “hard-core” fan like myself, the two bands are worlds apart.
To me, AC/DC is a hard-working band. Sure, with their 40 plus years in the biz they have had their ups and downs, but they were usually due to circumstances beyond their control. At the end of the day, they showed up on time, did the gig, and were always professional about it. Gunners, especially Axl, came of as a bunch of self-destructive prima donnas.
Now it was possible for this attitude to be injected into AC/DC. It was a weird time to be a fan, for sure.
So, I’m truly excited to see the strong possibility of Brian coming back, especially after several circumstances leading up to now pointed to him being finished as a member of AC/DC.
First, Brian Johnson did have something going on with his hearing. How he would walk his voice up to get the right pitch when he performed live during the Rock or Bust tour was the most telling sign. Here is an example from their live show in Sydney, Australia from 2015. Cue to 1:09 to the a little build up to the example at 1:12:
Is it enough that Angus should fire Brian over it? I’d say no, but Angus is a perfectionist, and that part of his attitude a reason why AC/DC has become so successful.
Second, Brian had already signaled his departure from the band in May of 2016 to Rolling Stone.
He claims to have had a “good run” and he is “happy to have made it out alive.” Comments that you can chalk up to his sense of humor, but he is speaking about his time with AC/DC in the past tense. Not a good sign.
Third, Axl was a total pro about the gig and did a bang up job.
Axl made his AC/DC debut with a broken foot while on tour with Guns ‘N Roses at the same time. He never missed a show and didn’t make any waves with some off stage antics. He showed that he was wanting, willing, and able. He pulled tunes from the catalog like ‘Riff Raff’ and ‘Rock ‘n Roll Damnation’ which we haven’t heard live in 40 years. Respect, as my good friend Joe would say. So, as the tour began to wrap up it was natural for more rumors to start flying about how Angus wish to record a new AC/DC album with Axl.
I had held out hope that this wasn’t true and if Angus did decide to carry on with another album, Brian would be involved. And now I am getting psyched as it appears my hopes are coming true! Here is why:
Brian still rocks. This is all the proof I need:
This is from this past November. Brian’s distracting beer gut aside, what ever hearing problem he has/had, he is dealing/dealt with it.
To be clear, I was and always have been OK with Angus filling the remainder of the Rock or Bust tour with another singer. The band has always been a working machine with a hard conviction in the belief that “the show must go on” . Now, the choice of Axl was concerning for the before mentioned reasons, but they all turned out to be moot ones. I am happier for it.
But now after Brian has shown he has still got it, and since his departure from the band was… awkward… recording another AC/DC album without his presence while he is still able to contribute would not sit well with me.
Regardless if you do or do not enjoy Brian as a singer, you cannot deny how his contribution to AC/DC’s biggest album, Back In Black, was a huge stepping stone for them in terms of sales and popularity. You could argue that they were on their way there anyway with former lead singer Bon Scott, but how often have you seen band roster changes get completely cocked up? If Angus does have AC/DC recording in Vancouver right now, Brain is the singer who deserves to be their more than anyone else.
Full disclosure: Stephen King is my favourite author. I’m not sure how much that affects the bias of my review but I thought I’d be upfront about it. I haven’t loved every book he has done, but his average is pretty high with me. I do wish to get to the point where I have read all of his books and there are some holes in the backlog that I need to fill. So that’s why I have just read The Dark Half which was published 1989 instead of his latest work. I’ll get to the newer stuff… eventually.
The premise for The Dark Half involves the main protagonist, Thaddeus Beaumont, an author of fiction (Go figure!) who is looking to retire his secret pseudonym, George Stark. Under his own name Thad writes high brow literature that is well revived by the critics but the sales of which doesn’t exactly pay the bills. What does are the salacious and trashy tales he writes under the George Stark pen name.
When a super-fan figures out the Beaumont-Stark connection, he attempts to blackmail Thad by threatening to go to the press if he isn’t compensated to keep quiet. Instead Thad is convinced by his publishers to go public himself and have a mock funeral for George Stark. A fake tombstone is fabricated and a full-page feature spread is printed in People magazine where Thad describes Stark as “Not a very nice guy”.
Stark, however, isn’t taking any of this lying down. Yeah, you heard me right. Stark becomes sentient and manifests himself into reality. It turns out that Stark is a little more than just a pseudonym but a leftover from Thad’s twin brother who was absorbed in the womb when the two were just zeitgeist. Wacky! Stark really is “Not a very nice guy” as he is big, mean and out for revenge on all of those who were involved with his “death”.
The Dark Half has a few moments of brilliance, two of which stood out to me. One is where a lonely State Trooper discovers the truck where Stark eliminated his first victim. The description of the gruesome sight from his view was a great read! He kept saying to himself “Mama, you ain’t gonna believe this!” The other features a bit character who was once a call girl and is now a tough New York City slum lord. Her reaction to stumbling upon a similar gruesome scene is done in a tough, New York City way was horrific as it was amusing.
Outside of a few moments, the book is fairly average for King. I usually become attached to the characters he creates, and they are a big reason why I’d will allow his stories to bend freely with reality. King ability to portray characters in all their various aspects is what I like most. His stories will more often than not have a good vs evil thread running through the plot, but his protagonists are almost always gray, making them as human as you or I are.
It is true that Thad does struggle at times with letting Stark completely go. He is tempted on some level to give into Stark which would allow him to continue to write the way he has always enjoyed. Liz, Thad’s wife, also admits to herself on a deep level that she is attracted to Starks resemblance to Thad. But Stark is so evil, neither of them contemplate these interpersonal thoughts in a serious way.
Stark is a ruthless killer, and I think King made him this way so we wouldn’t get too attached to the man-ghost. Part of his motivation is survival, which after all is something we can all sympathize with. Keeping those murders at the forefront of the reader’s mind with the constant threat of more violence to characters we have a greater attachment to keeps who the real bad guy is in check. The downside to this is a rather cut and dry ending that I think it would have been a little more interesting if Thad had a greater doubt in his mind if he was doing the right thing.
The most unexpected part of The Dark Half is how it gives us some insight into King’s writing process. At the time of the book’s writing, King himself had just outed his doppelgänger Richard Bauchman, an experiment to see if he could sell books without his famous name attached to the work. We see how Thad and Stark begin writing a novel with an idea for a good story and work from there. We know that King is pulling for personal experience here and the process is fascinating to a fan like myself.
I would recommend The Dark Half if you have read a bunch of King’s better work and are looking for more. There is a lot that is good here and I was still turning (swiping) the pages as fast as I could just to see what would happen next.
Sticking to the theme of this blog as a place to dump a review or deliver a “hot take” of whatever it is I’m currently doing, I decided to add a section for book reviews. I’ve slowly been getting back into reading lately, mostly on my tablet since I prefer a digital screen over paper. I like how a digital screen allows me to adjust font size, type, background colour, etc; but best of all, I can read in bed.
I work evenings and do not get into bed until very late on most days. The tablet allows me to read in the dark without the need of a overhead light, so there is little risk of disturbing my wife who gets up at 5:30AM for her job. The only real drawback for me is eye strain which comes to me much quicker compared to paper. I was getting around this by reading a paper book during the day and switching to the an ebook version of the same book late at night. The first few minutes of each reading session began with me finding where I had left off from one format to the next.
This eyestrain had me beginning to look into e-readers. e-readers use a different technology than tablets or smart phones as there is no back light. They call it “virtual paper” or “E Ink” which is designed to reflect light the same way paper does. The only real draw back is how it is only works in black and white making it a none option for those mini-computers. After testing a one out at a Chapters, I was sold. The words jumped off the device’s page/screen while its size and weight is approximately the same the same as a trade paperback. I could instantly see the benefit of adding yet another device into my life.
Now I had to decide on a brand. The two big options are the Canadian made Kobo and the American made amazon Kindle. Both are review very well, and the Kindle’s biggest advantage over the Kobo is it’s connection to the amazon store, but I went with a Kobo for one simple feature. Free books>buying books.
In the US, the amazon store is not your only legit option to read books on the Kindle. The e-reader will link to the US libraries as well allowing you to virtually take out e-books. The Kindle does not feature any library option in Canada, but the Kobo will allow you to link up to the Canadian libraries. Kobo it is. The feature is a little cumbersome as you do need to go through a PC to get your library book onto the device, but it beats spending $10-$15 on each book.
I choose the Kobo aura H2O which is a couple of steps up from the base model. It has 4 LED lights which point down at the screen allowing you to read in the dark and is water tight. (I have polished off a few paperbacks that began their time in my hands in mint condition and ended it as waterlogged.) I’ve owned the Kobo for just under two weeks now and I’m already onto my third book. Reading this quick has never happen to me before.
So, my good virtual friend Deke (Read his great blog right here) who after spotting my Goodreads/facebook post on Stephen King’s The Dark Half suggested doing write up here on the ol’ blog instead. I thought; Yeah, why not? I’ve written about a book before and I already do movies, music, and video games… I might as well go all in on books too. I can’t promise constant posts or anything as life is too busy for that, but I will try to write a little something if I have something to say after finishing a book.
I’ll begin working on a write up for The Dark Half after this, but one last plug for e-readers before I go. I highly suggest heading over to a Chapters and giving one a spin for free if you haven’t already. If you are Canadian I suggest getting a library card with a Kobo. You won’t need to spend another penny outside of the Kobo itself, and nothing beats the experience of taking out an e-book from your computer desk with only your gitch on. I love technology.