With stalling sales and an unsupportive label, there was only one thing left for AC/DC to do: rock. Harder than ever before. After having the Dirty Deeds album refused a US release by their record company because the suits simply didn’t think it was good enough, 1978 was do or die time for AC/DC. In typically reactionary fashion, however, what the Young brothers decided to do was not to soften their approach as Atlantic had insisted, in order to gain radio play in the US but to double down and produce their hardest, most uncompromising album yet. It was a two-fingered salute to their critics, defiantly titled Let There Be Rock.
“There was always a siege mentality about the band,” says their then bassist, Mark Evans. “Once we found out that Atlantic had knocked us back, the attitude was: ‘Fuck them! Who the fuck do they think they are?’”
You can hear that attitude throughout the album, beginning with the sound of a whisky-guzzling Bon Scott counting in the intro to the knee-trembling Go Down a song about a real-life groupie from Melbourne named Ruby (as in Ruby Lips, though her actual name was Wendy), known for her fondness, apparently, for ‘lickin’ at that lickin’ stick’.
There was also a detectable edge, a nasty side to some of the material, like Dog Eat Dog (‘Businessman when you make a deal/Do you know who you can trust?’) and Bad Boy Boogie (‘I said up/They said down/I do the bad boy boogie/All over town’) where Bon’s sneer is matched by Angus Young’s furious soloing, the rest of the band pounding away, as if speaking directly to the suits in New York. Not that they’d lost their sense of humor, of course the tremendous title track saw to that.
Buzz Bidstrup, drummer with The Angels, recalls visiting the studio and seeing Angus recording the solo while “climbing all over the amps and rolling around the floor”. Angus later recalled seeing smoke “pouring out of the fucking amp” at the end of the Let There Be Rock take. “It melted,” he cackled.
But, for Mark Evans, the real hero of that track was Phil Rudd. “We did two takes, and at the end of the first one I remember thinking: ‘That’s the end of Phil for a couple of hours.’ But Phil said: ‘Let’s go again now.’ I thought the guy was gonna fucking explode!
They used the second take.” The whole album sounds like it’s on the verge of spilling over into total chaos. Recorded as-live, mistakes were tolerated if the vibe was strong enough, the energy audibly crackling over the speakers on tracks like the romping Overdose, with its faltering, feedback-heavy intro, and Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, with its huge, bitch-slapping riff.
“To me it’s like the band’s Brown Sugar,” says Evans. “I mean, if you’re a purist and like the guitars being completely in tune and things being completely studio-sterile, that song’s gonna kill you, cos the guitars are whomping all over the place out of tune. But it’s just got that nasty, gritty feel about it that says AC/DC.” They saved the best for last, though, with Whole Lotta Rosie, about another real-life friend of Bon’s lickin’ stick. This one, though, ‘weighing in at nineteen stone’. With its staccato, looking-for-trouble intro and roguish vocal, Whole Lotta Rosie was to become AC/DC’s signature song: typifying the band at their most animalistic, yet transcendent, in the same way Whole Lotta Love, from which it cheekily pastiches its title, had done for Led Zeppelin.
There was even one track deemed too sordid for poor American ears: Crabsody In Blue, a swinging blues based on Bon’s sexual history since finding fame: ‘Well, they move on down and they crawl around…’ It was replaced in the US with Problem Child, from Dirty Deeds. Poor loves. Let There Be Rock was the first AC/DC album not to crack the Australian Top 10. In the UK it reached No.17, in the US it didn’t even make the Hot 100. Nevertheless, it remains one of their best the first truly classic, no-duds-allowed AC/DC album.
For a while, the chances of them making an equally fine follow-up seemed slim. Mark Evans was given the boot, to be replaced by Englishman Cliff Williams who couldn’t get a visa to perform in Australia. Atlantic in New York would have liked the group to give Bon the boot too, now blaming his vocals for the band’s lack of radio play. But again, the Young brothers decided to knuckle down and prove everybody wrong. Which they did, quite spectacularly, with Powerage.
By the time they were ready to go back into the studio in January 1978, Malcolm and Angus Young knew that this time they would have to do more than go in empty-handed, throwing it all together as best they could in a fusillade of alcohol and fags and making-it-up-as-you-go-along Aussie spunk. Powerage would have to be their heaviest record yet, and also their most musical. It would need to show what AC/DC could do, demonstrating the one thing critics had got into the habit of expecting them not to achieve: growth.
“They were never shy, but Powerage was where Malcolm, in particular, really wanted to show they were good musicians too,” recalls their then manager, Michael Browning.
As a result, Powerage would take longer to record than previous AC/DC albums, with ad-hoc sessions spread across several weeks at the start of the year. Experiencing fully for the first time the midnight oil-burning intensity of AC/DC in the studio, Cliff Williams, for one, was convinced Powerage was special.
Even though the sessions were spread out, when they started work in the studio “we got there and got down and did the long-hour days! It was really a tremendous experience.” Conceived as a showcase that would place AC/DC right up there with the American superstars they were now sharing stages with, Powerage was split down the middle between yet more ton-up AC/DC classics such as Down Payment Blues, and more elliptical tracks such as What’s Next To The Moon.
In the former, the difference in mood is pinpointed by the change in perspective of Bon’s lyrics. He was still writing about the long way to the top, but no longer self-mythologising, talking instead of ‘Feeling like a paper cup/Floating down a storm drain’. The latter, with its circular guitar figure replacing the juddering block chords of yore, was the most transcendent moment on any AC/DC album yet, the lyrics staring past love and pain, focusing instead on that thing just out of reach.
Whether intentional or not, it had the same yo-yoing dynamic throughout its nine tracks: one moment a perfect-10 rock monster like Riff Raff, its crazed, spiraling riff belying its solitary verse about being ‘Down in Mexico’, the next moment another seductively mid-paced stroller built around a tight, almost pop guitar figure: Gone Shootin. This time, though, the subject matter is truly murky. A song about a girl who ‘sure is loaded’ and ‘never says bye bye’, it’s a direct reference to Bon’s on-off relationship with his girlfriend Silver, the stoned travelling woman who is permanently ‘gone, gone, gone’.
Of the remaining tracks, the lines between old-school, go-get-’em AC/DC and new, more measured, see what we can-do AC/DC are pleasingly blurred. Sin City begins like classic AC/DC towering intro, all-guns-blazing riff but again the story is much deeper. On the surface, about a gambler going ‘in to win’ in Las Vegas, it’s also a metaphor for the assault AC/DC were now intent on making on the US charts.
With its low-slung guitars and chugging drums, Gimme A Bullet sounds more like the Lynyrd Skynyrd number it almost steals its title from than anything AC/DC had put down on vinyl before. Again, the song – about a girl who tells her guy: ‘Now you go your way and I’ll go mine’ seems to refer back to Silver, with Bon crying for a ‘bullet to bite on’ to help him with his pain. The final two tracks, Up To My Neck In You and Kicked In The Teeth, also exemplify this new dynamic. Although date back to the earlier Powerage sessions of six months before, only the latter sounds like it comes from an earlier era, Bon literally screaming over the intro about a ‘two-faced woman’ telling ‘two-faced lies’.
Up To My Neck In You sounds more modern, Bon once more up to his neck in whisky-women and good-bad times, but the guitars and drums move with a staggered grace that has more to do with the Rolling Stones than with the wall of block chords that AC/DC had previously relied on. There was one other track, Cold Hearted Man, but that only made it to the very earliest vinyl editions of the album released in Britain and these days it isn’t included on any of the CD or downloadable editions. In truth, it’s no loss.
It’s the track that replaced it the deliberately pop Rock’n’roll Damnation, recorded at Atlantic’s insistence, again to try to bait American radio that caused the real controversy, at least among the band, who genuinely hated it. For the rest of us it was simply one more catchy tune.
But when Powerage also failed to excite the charts in America, Atlantic were ready to throw in the towel. Then someone had a brainwave: how about if they did a Kiss? That is, release a best-of package under the guise of a live album, the way the similarly radio-challenged Kiss had done with Alive and Alive II?
So it was that on the third night of their UK tour in April 1978, headlining Glasgow Apollo, they recorded the show for what would become the first AC/DC live album: If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It. Along with other dates recorded that summer in the US and some going back to a 1976 tour of Australia, If You Want Blood would serve as both documentary proof of AC/DC’s growing status as one of the premier league live rock acts in the world, and as a de facto best-of. Producers George Young and Harry Vanda had done a good job of sprucing it up for mainstream consumption, mixing out obvious mistakes, choosing the best takes of the tracks, cleaning up the lead and backing vocals and bringing the whole package up to studio standard, as was common for officially released live albums, then as now.
These were just the trimmings, though, to a dish that needed little adornment. AC/DC live were a genuinely thrilling proposition. Released on Friday 13, If You Want Blood would include all the obvious crowd-pleasers like The Jack (its strictly live, ‘dirty’ lyrics included on record for the first time); Whole Lotta Rosie (with a new crowd chant of “Angus! Angus!” over the juddering intro recorded for the first time, thereby embedding it forever into the consciousness of all future generations of AC/DC concert-goers); and lengthy, barnstorming encores of Let There Be Rock (distinguished by the very real roar of approval from the Glasgow crowd at seeing the band return to the stage wearing Scotland football shirts); and Rocker, cleverly edited down from its usual 12-minutes-plus to a more radio-accommodating three minutes dead. As a result, If You Want Blood finally opened the doors of the UK Top 20 for AC/DC, eventually climbing as high as No.13. America, though, still stubbornly refused to buy it. But that was about to change.
By Mick Wall (Classic Rock)
The Black Crowes celebrated the release of their 1972 covers EP with a concert at the intimate and historic Whisky A Go Go club in Los Angeles last night. The surprise show was livestreamed via Amazon Music’s Twitch channel and featured performances of all six songs from 1972 The Black Crowes recorded for the EP as well as six beloved classics.
1972 came out on Wednesday as an Amazon Music exclusive before the collection arrives tomorrow on LP and CD via the band’s Silver Arrow label. The Black Crowes put tickets on sale for yesterday’s concert late in the afternoon at the price of $19.72. Once again, Blackberry Smoke guitarist Charlie Starr filled in for Isaiah Mitchell who is on tour with Earthless. Starr joined the Crowes at the Stagecoach festival on Sunday and for a “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” cover on Tuesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live.
The Black Crowes kicked off the night with “Rocks Off” by The Rolling Stones and then offered the live debut of “The Slider” by T. Rex. Chris Robinson, Rich Robinson, and the rest of the band continued to play 1972 covers in the order presented on the EP with live premieres of Rod Stewart’s “You Wear It Well” and “Easy To Slip” by Little Feat. The 1972 portion of the concert ended with takes on David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” and “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.”
After aborting and restarting “Thorn In My Pride,” The Black Crowes performed the title track from 1999’s By Your Side. Next, the group looked to Shake Your Money Maker for “She Talks To Angels” and delivered a double dose of 1994’s Amorica in pairing “Ballad In Urgency” and “Wiser Time.” Last night’s concert ended with the 1992 smash “Remedy.”
By Scott Bernstein / JAMBASE
Priest, who will receive the Musical Excellence Award, will be joined by Eminem, Dolly Parton, Duran Duran, Lionel Richie, Carly Simon, and influential blues guitarist Elizabeth Cotton. After a 17-artist shortlist of potential inductees was unveiled earlier this year, it’s now been officially confirmed that Judas Priest will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 23 years after they first became eligible.
Priest will be bestowed the Musical Excellence Award when the induction ceremony takes place later this year on November 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. The band’s induction has been a long time coming. Long considered to be one of the event’s biggest snubs, Judas Priest’s induction marks the third time the band has been nominated for an award, after unsuccessful attempts in 2018 and 2020.
In response to the successful induction, Priest singer Rob Halford told Billboard, “The other day I was just noodling on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame site, and when you look at the list of talent in there, it’s absolutely extraordinary”.
“It’s a very, very important institution for recognizing various people that have been in music since music began, right from the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll,” he added. “To be part of that is, like, wow… “And glory hallelujah, there’s another metal band in now. That’s the blessing we’ve all been waiting for. I think it validates the real musical adventure that Judas Priest has been on since Rocka Rolla (in 1974). We’re a band that has taken you through many, many different, many dimensions, of metal.”
Halford also went on to say that Priest’s former members, including K.K. Downing, have “every right to be a part of the event “. “I’m very pleased for everybody, “Halford noted. “There’s no bitterness. There’s no angst. There’s not that kind of stuff that’s lingering. If there is, you have to push all that away. You have to push it to the side and just understand and accept and respect this wonderful opportunity and what it represents in terms of recognition and a celebration.”
Another standout inclusion in the list of inductees is the late Elizabeth Cotten the self-taught, left-handed blues guitarist who pioneered the “Cotten picking” technique who has been bestowed the Early Influence Award owing to the lasting impact she had on the blues scene.
One of the most inspiring left-handed guitarists to ever pick up a guitar, Cotten wrote her most notable work, Freight Train, at the age of just 12 years old in around 1904, though credit for its composition was eventually taken by two English songwriters when it became a hit in the ‘50s. In its bio of Cotten, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame commended the fingerstyle player for her “musical inventiveness”, which “influenced countless other musicians”.
“Freight Train still stands as an immortal American folk classic,” the Rock Hall wrote, “and many of her songs have become staples in the repertoires of thousands of artists who have kept her unique musical legacy alive.”
Joining Judas Priest and Cotten on the induction list is Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis the R&B production/multi-instrumentalist duo, who are also receiving the Musical Excellence Award as well as Duran Duran, Eurythmics and Lionel Richie, who are receiving nods in the Performer Category. Others to receive the Performer Award include Carly Simon, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Eminem and despite wanting to withdraw her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination in March Dolly Parton.
The induction list is completed by Allen Grubman, Jimmy Iovine, and Sylvia Robinson, who will be receiving the Ahmet Ertegun Award. Notably, it’s the first time in the Rock Hall’s 37-year history that six female acts have been inducted in one go.
Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame John Sykes said of the list, “This diverse group of inductees each had a profound impact on the sound of youth culture and helped change the course of rock ‘n’ roll. Their music moved generations and influenced so many artists that followed.”
Def Leppard To Perform Intimate Concert In Los Angeles For SiriusXM The show is set for the Whisky a Go Go on May 26. SiriusXM has announced that legendary rock band Def Leppard will play a special invitation-only concert in Los Angeles at the Whisky a Go Go for SiriusXM listeners. The intimate performance, part of SiriusXM’s Small Stage Series, will take place on Thursday May 26, in celebration of Def Leppard’s forthcoming album Diamond Star Halos which is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 27.
On June 16, Def Leppard is set to kick off “The Stadium Tour” which will hit 36 major cities across North America. Def Leppard will be joined by Motely Crüe, Poison, and Joan Jett for this massive and highly anticipated stadium run. Prior to Def Leppard’s tour, this will be the first-time fans can see the band perform new songs live from their latest album live in addition to the stadium anthem hits that cemented them as rock icons.
The performance will premiere on SiriusXM’s Def Leppard Radio and Howard 101 on Friday, May 27 at 5:00 pm ET and PT. Additionally, the concert will broadcast throughout June on Classic Rewind (ch. 25) and 80s on 8.
Def Leppard Radio will launch on Friday, May 27 and run through Saturday, June 25 on the SXM App. The channel will also be available on satellite (ch. 39) on Friday, May 27 through Thursday, June 2. Featuring a slew of guest hosts, Def Leppard Radio will delve into the band’s 40-year music career, providing insight behind both their greatest hits and their new album. Def Leppard Radio will also spotlight artists who influenced Def Leppard including David Bowie, Queen, T. Rex, Mott The Hoople and more.
SiriusXM’s Small Stage Series features performances with premier artists spanning music genres and styles, and comedy, and held in small iconic venues. SiriusXM launched its Small Stage Series in August 2021 and to date has announced performances by Alicia Keys, Avril Lavigne, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Dave Matthews, Ed Sheeran, Glass Animals, The Go-Go’s, H.E.R., J Balvin, J. Cole, Jason Aldean, John Mayer, John Mulaney, Kane Brown, Kenny Chesney, Michael Che, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Old Dominion, Shaggy and Twenty-One Pilots.
Visit SiriusXM’s website for information regarding the Small Stage Series featuring Def Leppard. – Credits: – Will Schube /Udiscovermusic
Watch Steve Vai and Nile Rodgers help create the iconic ‘Halo 2’ theme
After being told to “just vibe”, Steve Vai improvised a solo that would feature on the main theme for ‘Halo 2’. A studio recording of guitarists Steve Vai and Nile Rodgers creating the now-iconic theme for Halo 2 has been shared by the series’ original composer, Marty O’Donnell.
Today (April 19), O’Donnell announced that a dispute regarding royalties for his work creating the Halo soundtrack has been “amicably resolved”. Along with the announcement, O’Donnell shared footage of Vai and Rodgers working together on their contribution to the main theme for Halo 2, which includes instrumentals from the pair.
Within the video’s 27-minute run-time, there are plenty of moments that detail how the pair came up with Halo 2‘s guitar-led theme – including Rodgers explaining that he wants to create something “really true” to the game’s original soundtrack. At 0:53, fans can spot Rodgers listening to the string-led portion of Halo 2‘s theme, before picking up his guitar and improvising a chord progression to play with the piece.
After Rodgers’ rhythm section drew praise from Vai, Rodgers joked that “I was doing something like this with [Eric Clapton], he sat there and went “okay, now what am I gonna play?” he said, “you’re covering all the harmony and all the rhythm, what am I supposed to do?” Around the 8:30 mark, a conversation between Vai and Rodgers shares a glimpse into the pair’s approach to collaborating on the Bungie project.
Rodgers tells Vai he wants it “to sound like you’re there with the orchestra” but doesn’t want to change the theme too much as “the original thing is so well-known”. When Vai tells Rodgers to “produce me, baby”, Rodgers instructs him to “just vibe, just groove on it for a minute” to see what he can come up with.
Remarkably, Vai’s improvisation – which begins at 9 minutes in the video – creates the solo that went on to be largely used in Halo 2‘s main theme, much to the approval of Rodgers. The footage was filmed while recording at Seattle’s Studio X, which has been used by artists ranging from Nirvana to Macklemore and Soundgarden.
– Credits: NME – Andy Brow
Eric Clapton and George Harrison were life-long friends. They shared the same love for music, and although they also shared the same love for a woman, nothing came between them. So, when George died of cancer in 2001, Clapton was beside himself. He had to do something to honor his friend, even if that meant doing something George would never have wanted.
Eric Clapton organized Concert for George in 2002.
After George died, Clapton wanted to do something to pay tribute to his life-long friend. So, he came up with Concert for George, a star-studded tribute concert. “It was [Clapton’s] idea,” George’s widow, Olivia, told Rolling Stone.
“He phoned me not long after George died and said, ‘I’d like to do something.’ Eric was a very deep friend of George’s, so I felt confident and relieved that it was Eric coming to me.”
“Olivia had given me this job of being musical director,” Clapton added, “to single out people for certain songs, and I found that really hard.
We were all quite protective of our relationships with George.” Fans and a vast group of George’s closest friends gathered on Nov. 29, 2002, exactly a year after George died, at London’s Royal Albert Hall for Concert for George. They filmed it and released it in theaters and on DVD a year later.
Among the performers were Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston, and Paul McCartney. George’s only son, Dhani, played acoustic guitar through most of the performance.
Shankar told the crowd that he believed George’s spirit was with them. However, George would have been uncomfortable with the tribute concert.
Eric Clapton said George Harrison wouldn’t have liked Concert for George
Clapton thought of what his friend would have said about the tribute concert during rehearsals. He realized George wouldn’t have wanted Concert for George. However, Clapton said he didn’t care what George would have thought.
He needed to grieve. “I thought that if he were here, he’d probably say, ‘Thanks very much Eric, but I don’t really want this,’” Clapton told the LA Times.
“I thought, ‘What would I say if he said that?’ “And I then thought, ‘Well I’m doing this for me, actually.’ And that’s more the truth of it; I needed to do it for him, but it was for me most of all because I needed to be able to express my grief in that kind of way.”
The guitarist found it hard to communicate his feelings to the ex-Beatle
After everything George and Clapton went through together, Clapton was never entirely able to show his friend his feelings.
“A lot of times during our relationship, I found it very difficult to communicate my feelings toward George my love for him as a musician and a brother and a friend because we skated around stuff. I was probably dealing with that, too, making amends.”
It was a little late, but Concert for George allowed Clapton to tell George how he felt about him finally. Clapton needed to show George, he loved him by celebrating George’s life.
Hopefully, Concert for George allowed Clapton to mourn George properly and to say all the things he never got to say to him.
Credits: Hannah Wigandt – Showbiz CheatSheet
Tyson Fury, who will take on fellow Brit Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium on 23rd April live on BT Sport Box Office, famously performed American Pie after defeating Deontay Wilder in Fury v Wilder II in 2020. The song has since become synonymous with the boxer who is not afraid to showcase his musical talent.
The latest iteration of the song sees McLean singing the verses to “American Pie”, perfectly articulating Tyson’s comeback story, before he’s joined in the chorus by the Gypsy King himself. The Morecambe-based fighter is no stranger to jumping on the mic, having previously appeared on Robbie Williams’ song “Bad Sharon” in 2019.
Ahead of Fury v Whyte the song will be aired on BT Sport to promote the fight and will be played in the stadium on fight night as 94,000 fans pack into Wembley stadium to witness the first all-British heavyweight world title fight for a generation.
In addition to celebrating Fury’s homecoming, the duet coincides with the 50th anniversary of American Pie – both the album and single – as well as the release of a children’s book, documentary about the pop culture impact of the song, and a world tour which will come to the UK and Europe starting in September 2022.
Fans will be able to watch all the build-up, undercard and the main event of Fury v Whyte exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office.
Don McLean is a Grammy award honoree, a Songwriter Hall of Fame member, a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and his smash hit “American Pie” resides in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry and was named a top 5 song of the 20th Century by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA).
Credits: Tim Peacock – Udiscovermusic.com