“PWR Up”

By Colonel Angus

Reviewing an AC/DC album is tricky business.  I’ve been a fan since the late 70’s and have purchased every release since (along with getting their older releases); some of them were even first day purchases.  As the years have gone on, I would wait to get their disks as I didn’t really need to hear their newest material right away.  So when I got wind of a new record, I was in no hurry to get it knowing that I would eventually buy it.  I thought “Black Ice” and “Rock or Bust” were good but we were getting more of the same.  Not that getting more AC/DC is a bad thing but some of the material blended from one record to another.  On one hand, that is comforting because you know what you are going to get, and on the other hand, you like it for what it is but you keep gravitating to their older songs.  I have to admit that it was getting to a point to where I was buying the disks just to complete the catalogue and rarely did I go back to some of their latter albums.

All of this brings me to the new record “PWR Up”.  I heard the first single “Shot In the Dark” and thought it was really good but I have passed on the disk until recently.  When dealing with a new AC/DC release, I think it is important to sit down and really give it a good listen; no distraction, no skipping tracks, just listening to the album straight through like it was intended.  I sat down in my comfy chair and let the new material fill my headphones and I have to say, I have not been this surprised by a record in quite some time.  I kid you not, AC/DC have produced an awesome record that quite honestly is a high point in their long career.  If this winds up being their last album, then God bless ‘em, they are ending on a high note.  From the first riff of “Realize” to the last chord of “Code Red” the record hits all the right AC/DC elements that made them one of the biggest bands in the world.  There are some great moments throughout but some worth mentioning are the galloping thunder of “Demon Fire”, the catchy as hell “Witch’s Spell”, and the “Back in Black”-ish “Code Red”.  Honestly, the only slight miss is “No Man’s Land” which seems to fall back into familiar territory which, again, isn’t a bad thing.  The songs really feel inspired and there is a hunger in their delivery which is amazing considering the age of the guys creating this racket. 

When I read articles about “PWR Up”, it mentioned that some of the riffs were ideas that Malcolm Young (RIP – you are truly missed) had come up with before falling ill.  If that is the case, then the boys have used those riffs and managed to channel him in all of the other material.  I can’t help but think that he is looking down and feeling proud of “PWR Up”.  I also have to give Brian Johnson props as he sounds great throughout the record.  I have seen some of their latter day shows and he was sounding a bit thin and I worried that that would carry over into the studio but he sounds great on every track.  Also, I’m happy that Phil Rudd was back where he belongs.  Chris Slade and Simon Wright are both great drummers but no one can replace Rudd’s spot-on playing.  Angus, who by the way is an underrated riff master, still manages to come up with great riffs this far along in his career.  

“PWR Up” is a record that I predict will be in many Top 10 Records of 2020 lists (mine included) and will sit high in the AC/DC canon of work.  For me, if I had to rank this disk, it would come in at the same level as “Flick of the Switch” which in my book is high praise.  They are certainly joining the rank of old guard giving the new bands a run for their money.