AC/DC — Ballbreaker (review)

AC/DC — Ballbreaker album cover Album · 1995 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Vim Fuego
The title says ‘Ballbreaker’. There’s the oldest schoolboy you’ll ever see playing the guitar on the cover. Yep, it’s gotta be AC/DC.

AC/DC were extremely prolific through the 1970s and into the 1980s, producing on average an album a year. Superstardom seemed to slow them a little, with albums coming out every two years in the late 80s, and then only once every five years in the 90s. The band could have retired after the release of ‘Back In Black’ such was its success, so us mere mortals should be grateful of everything we get.

‘Ballbreaker’ was the follow up to 1990s smash ‘The Razor’s Edge’. It’s not a patch on that album, but ‘Ballbreaker’ is still worthy of any AC/DC fan’s collection. There are no instant classics like “Thunderstruck” or “You Shook Me All Night Long” or “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and it doesn’t add anything new. So what?

Starting at the bottom, Phil Rudd plays 4/4 drums without any frilly fills. Anything else would not be AC/DC. Per song, bass player Cliff Williams plays less different notes than The Ramones used to play chords. Anything else would be un-AC/DC-like conduct. Malcolm Young creates riff after riff of blues influenced rock. Some of it sounds kind of familiar, but he’s been doing it since about 1973, so a little repetition is inevitable. Angus Young still plays mad sounding leads and solos, his antics matching the manic notes he runs together. Brian Johnson’s throat still sounds like it’s made of leather, as he tortures his whiskey and cigarette abused vocal cords.

Angus Young still dressed like a schoolboy, and Brian Johnson still thought like one. Double entendres abound, with songs like “Hard As A Rock”, “Caught With Your Pants Down”, the title track and “The Honey Roll” (“Honey roll over/And lettuce on top”). The smut factor even goes beyond double entendres to the blatant “Love Bomb” and “Cover You In Oil” (“I like to slip into something good/I see a young girl in the neighbourhood”).

It’s not all sex and partying hard on this album though. Religion and politics come in for a serve on this album, not topics AC/DC had ever previously explored. “Hail Caesar” targets corrupt politicians, while “The Furor” takes a poke at evangelists, with Brian Johnson’s “furor” sounding a lot like “Fuhrer”. Intentional or not, it seems fitting.

At the end of the day, this is simply another AC/DC album in a long line of AC/DC albums, complete with dirty lyrics and good time rock and roll. What more could you want?
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