AC/DC — High Voltage (International Version) (review)

AC/DC — High Voltage (International Version) album cover Album · 1976 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
AC/DC was formed in 1973 by the Young brothers, at the time Malcolm, Angus and George with a heavy rotating cast that found Bon Scott joining in 1974. The band released their debut album HIGH VOLTAGE in Australia in early 1975 and followed it up with their second “TNT” coming out at the end of the same year. In between the band found a more stable lineup with Phil Rudd joining in on drums and Mark Evans landing the role as bassist. While starting out more glam oriented with the 1975 version of HIGH VOLTAGE, the band had already developed their classic ballsy bravado that developed the bluesy hard rock into a sound all their own. Despite having carved out their own musical niche, the debut album didn’t quite have all the ingredients in perfect order yet and as a result the band quickly ironed out all the kinks that were fine tuned on “TNT.”

“TNT” found the band cranking out nine brash original rockers plus a Check Berry cover, whom the band claimed as a major source of inspiration. With this second release, the band became quite popular in their native Australia which attracted the attention of the international record label Atco which signed the band and preceded to release their international debut. Instead of doing something more sensible and concocting a new title, Atco decided to release a different version of HIGH VOLTAGE which would in reality take the seven tracks from “TNT” and only the two tracks “She’s Got Balls” and “Little Lover” from the Australian HIGH VOLTAGE. Just to make things more confusing, the title track “High Voltage” first appeared on “TNT,” NOT the debut!

When all was said and done, international HIGH VOLTAGE was nothing more than a compilation of the first two Australian albums which lifted the best tracks and compiled them into what most AC/DC fans of the world (including myself) have owned, loved and collected. To be honest, i have only experienced the Australian HIGH VOLTAGE in preparation for this review but in reality i have heard most of the tracks since many have been released as the compilation “74 Jailbreak” and elsewhere. International HIGH VOLTAGE is the much better product than the Australian debut. It shows the band in full bad boy boogie-woogie hard rock mode and already dripping in adrenaline fueled confidence. Graced by their garage rock sensibilities, AC/DC’s apparent middle-fingers-to-the-world attitude and hedonistic errancy found them being lumped into the punk rock scene as their debut hit the UK simultaneously as the burgeoning punk rock scene was getting underway.

While similar in many ways, the punk connection is one that the band bitterly deflected as they have always claimed that they were nothing more than a rock and roll band and accused punk of being nothin more than a fashion statement, not a musical one. The international debut of AC/DC found them instant success with tracks like “It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll),” “Rock N Roll Singer” and “The Jack” proving to be some of their best known hits that have found their way into the AC/DC playlist long past the premature passing of the late Bon Scott. AC/DC delivered a completely different style of hard rock that stood out from pretty much everything else that came out in the 70s. While the Young brothers were Scottish by birth, Bon Scott added yet another Scottish touch as he was pretty much the only bagpipe player to perform in a hard rock band as heard on the opener “It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll).”

While HIGH VOLTAGE isn’t the band’s best album, this combo version of the first two Australian releases was the perfect release to unleash on the world displaying their unique twin guitar riffing assault, Angus’ schoolboy persona and Bon Scott’s unique vocal style all coming together in perfect synergy. While the music is quite simple, it is addicting and dripping with attitude. AC/DC emerged as a band that took simple riffs, basic melodies and seemingly banal lyrics and animated them into a commercial powerhouse. While panned by the critics, the fans ate it up and catapulted the band to the top of the world in a very short time. The rest is history but outside of Australia, this is the album that started the whole ball rolling and the world has never been the same since.
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