My love for AC/DC was founded on the international versions of their early albums, with this being a collection of songs from their first two Australian releases. Now that I live at this end of the world, I keep meaning to hunt down their Aussie originals.
After I bought their 1992 Live album and decided to get the rest of their back catalogue, my OCD collector’s attitude urged me onto buying their albums in order, so naturally I started with this, their (international) debut.
On first listen, I remember thinking that compared to the crunch and bombast of Live, that it sounded pretty weak. Each successive album gets closer to that raw live sound, but here it almost sounds like a different band – like a poorly produced bad covers band playing AC/DC material through cheap instruments. It does have a certain charm though.
To give you an idea of how formative this album was for me, The Jack was the first song I learnt to play on the guitar. I didn’t start with something by Aerosmith – who I’d been listening to for a few years by then – I started with a Blues in E, by AC/DC. To this day, I can’t listen to the song without picking up my guitar and ripping through the solo.
As far as album covers go, the front cover of this is a classic – with a nice drawing of Angus clutching his SG, and an early version of the band’s logo evident in the top left corner – but the back cover is slightly disconcerting. Alongside publicity photos of each band member are fictional letters from the likes of worried parents and school teachers, concerned about the band’s latest exploits with their teenage daughters. At the time, I’m sure this made them sound edgy and dangerous, but in the 21st century with a touch of added hindsight it makes the band sound like a group or marauding paedophiles, parading through Australian suburbs just as the school bells ring out. To further add fuel to this fire, Bon Scott namechecks Gary Glitter in the banal lyrics to Little Lover; and of course the album cover features the band’s lead guitarist dressed as a schoolboy. Oh dear.
Hidden Gem: Live Wire