By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
AC/DC doesn't really need anyone to defend it. The Aussie quintet has sold more than 200 million albums in its three-decade-plus career. Back in Black is the second-best-selling album of all time, behind only Michael Jackson's Thriller. The band's latest disc, Black Ice — sold exclusively at Wal-Mart — debuted at number one in October, moving nearly 800,000 copies. It trailed only Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III as the year's top first-week seller, and has already gone multiplatinum.
The band continues to sell out arenas and stadiums around the globe, even with high ticket prices in the midst of a recession, because fans know AC/DC will give them their money's worth. They're legends — arguably the greatest pure rock band to strap on guitars and fire up the amps. Everybody loves them. They're wealthy beyond belief. No member of the group has died since 1980. They're doing just fine.
Okay, maybe not everybody loves them. In the wake of Black Ice's release, AC/DC detractors have rolled out the same two criticisms as always. They are as follows:
First: The band "hasn't put out anything good since 1981." This is groupthink of the worst kind. Fly on the Wall (1985)? Goddamn awesome; "Sink the Pink" and "Shake the Foundation" are among the most killer songs the band has ever recorded. The Razor's Edge (1990)? Two words: Thunder-fucking-struck. Stiff Upper Lip (2000)? Crank that puppy while you're driving and you'll be doing 120 mph in no time (even in a crappy old Hyundai).
Second: "AC/DC keeps putting out the same album." So?! Sure, Black Ice delivers exactly what you'd expect. Malcolm bludgeons you with his crunchy, meaty riffs. Angus tears off one raw blues-rock solo after another. Phil pounds his drums with so little complexity he makes Ringo Starr look like Neil Peart. Cliff lays down solid and equally simple bass lines. And Brian shrieks about chicks, booze, balls, and rock and roll like his hair and asshole are on fire.
And what's the problem with that? The last thing the hard-workin' man or woman needs is to walk into Wal-Mart, grab the new AC/DC disc, stick it in the car stereo on the way home, and hear some weird electronica or Tuvan throat singing polluting the tunes. Or a ballad. Plenty of bands experiment with their songwriting for a couple of albums, but they inevitably return to that "classic sound," especially once they realize they've alienated almost their entire fan base.
AC/DC skips all of that bullshit and sticks to the tried and true, and it works. One person's "predictable" is another person's "reliable." And in this day and age, what can you really count on? Your job to still be there tomorrow morning? Doubtful. The love of your life sticking around forever? Not likely. But until they're six feet under, AC/DC will always be there for you — loud, crude, primal, juvenile, and fun, with silly schoolboy outfits and cannons in tow. They continue to rock better than anyone ever has, or probably ever will. And for that, we salute them.