Way back in the early 90’s “Canada’s music station” Much Music aired a program called Spotlight (They might still do for all I know). Spotlight was 30 minutes of content dedicated to one band or artist. You would get a few excerpts from interviews and some of the band’s history, but the videos were the major draw.
My music collection was still young and growing when the dedicated an episode to AC/DC, so this was the first time I heard songs like Jailbreak, Flick of the Switch and a live version of Let’s Get It Up:
This one stood out to me as a song I needed to get first. The video captured the Back in Black line up at their finest. Brian Johnson wailing away in a Harley Davidson shirt and little Angus lugging around a big brown Gibson SG.
I was on a mission for my next trip to Sam the Record Man to get me a copy of For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) which featured the tune as track three; a CD copy no less! We had two CD players in the house back then, and I didn’t own either of them. My parents had one hooked up to the living room stereo that I could use with headphones and my sister had one in a Ghetto blaster she earned by selling the most tickets for a raffle. So this meant I would have to beg, borrow, and steal whenever I wanted to listen to it… but an inferior cassette would not satisfy me!
I was disappointed when I finally gave it a spin. This album was…. slow.
Most of the action is at the top with the title track kicking it off. It is a slow burn but it gets going.
So pick up your balls, and load up your cannon
It is a classic and a cracking good time.
The 2nd track, Put the Finger on You is a hidden gem. I like the swing of it. Let’s Get It Up was a big let down after getting hooked on faster live version. Inject the Venom is The Phil Rudd Drumming Show. I have been listening to this song for 25 years and only noticed it a short while ago. I’m so focused on what Angus is doing it took a cover band on YouTube giving the drummer some camera love to open my eyes:
Really, Phil has a lot of bright moments throughout the whole record. The tunes are still the 4/4 rockers but they let him pound on some skins outside of the snare for a change.
Snowballed is OK. It has a nice groove but I’ve always hated the way it is mixed. Brian’s vocals are a little buried for me. Even Mal’s guitar feels kind of mushed. Evil Walks brings us back to “Good” status as it begins side two. A cynic could say the band is trying to replicate Highway To Hell’s ‘Night Prowler‘, but it is a little better than just a clone. I’m no expert lyricist but I think Brian hits a home run here:
Black shadow hangin’ over your shoulder
Black mark up against your name
Your green eyes couldn’t get any colder
There’s bad poison runnin’ through your veins
C.O.D. suffers a bit from Mutt’s love of backing vocals but is still solid. Keep on Breaking the Rules is a bit boring. And Knight of the Long Knives is another one that I think Mutt overproduced. I feel like there are three sing along choruses all not working at the same time.
Now ‘Spellbound‘. I love it. Some of the best lyrics Brian has come up with.
Beaten by a blind man
Wrong way up a dead end
Screaming through a speed trap
As I tear into a tail pipe
I can do nothing right
I never sleep at night
Can’t even start a fight
My feet have left the ground
Spinning round and round
I don’t know if Brian is singing about a car crash or if it is a metaphor for another kind of crash, but I dig it. I like the walk up to the big riff, the chugging of the chords, and Angus’ attack on the solo. I would put it on the same shelf as Night Prowler or Ride On.
Some say For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) is the beginning of the end for AC/DC. Their “Last good album” or “Their first bad album”. Meh, that’s a little melodramatic. To me, it is a good rock record that was held back from being great by some over-producing. The intention to make AC/DC a little more radio friendly is admirably enough, but they come off as too sluggish at times.
As an AC/DC album: 3/5
Compared to the everything else: 3.5/5