Go to content | Go to navigation | Go to search

Class 6(66)

AC/DC: Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

30/07/10  ||  Khlysty

Introduction

Back in 1976, when this album came out, AC/DC was considered to be a “punk” band. Maybe it was the simple blues-twelve-bar derived songs, played with cheerful and probably inebriated abandon and unheard-of intensity. Maybe it was the outrageous on-stage/off-stage antics of the band members (Angus had already established his schoolboy-from-Hell-or-somewhere-near persona, while Bon Scott was appearing live dressed as a nurse or a ballerina and everybody in the band drank, as if the thing was going out of style fast). Maybe it was the provocative lyrics that, although dealing with the usual themes of rock’n’roll (sex, booze, drugs and general antisocial behavior), they seemed to cut a little deeper than most. I don’t really know the reason why, but, back then, AC/DC was supposed to be a punk band.

And then came “Dirty Deeds…” and things changed fast for the band. Suddenly, AC/DC weren’t just punks anymore, but a bunch of dangerous, dastardly devilish ruffians, set out to mock and ultimately destroy the status quo worldwide. Maybe it was the dark anti-establishment lyrics that were used (“Dirty Deeds…” talks openly about murder and sexual deviation, “Big Balls”, under a funny façade, hides a deep derision for the higher classes of the society, “The Rocker” celebrates the darker aspects of the rock’n’roll life and there’s real anger towards failure in “(Ain’t no fun) Waiting round to be a millionaire”). Maybe it was the music that was catchier than H1N1, H1N5 and Hepatitis C viruses, all wrapped up together. But I think that what was scarier was the fact that AC/DC made an attitudinal and musical leap of cosmic proportions, only two years after their first record.

To understand the impact this record had when it hit the streets, you have to know that until 1981, the Americans could NOT listen to “Dirty Deeds…”, unless they were ready to pay exorbitant prices to import it in the USA. Anyway, in my not-so-humble opinion, this is not only one of the best records AC/DC ever produced, but also one of the best hard rock/rock’n’roll/punk/fun/party records ever to grace this pair of ears. This is not just great music/great fun, folks; this is the record to make you wanna smash things and do harm and REALLY BE HAPPY ABOUT IT! I really am not sure about how these diminutive Aussies made it possible, but here it is, in full deprived glory, to be adored and rained with burnt offering to time end.

Songwriting

9,5. As I said before, the songwriting is simple. But, AC/DC, along with a few other bands like The Ramones or Motörhead, belong to the Einsteins of simplicity and catchiness. Taking the basic dogmas of da blues, boogie and rock’n’roll, the Brothers Young super-boost them with huge guitars, a rock-hard rhythm section and tasteful solos, while always finding the best way to write simple –but never simplistic- riffs that hook themselves into the minds of the listeners. Please, just listen carefully to the opening riff of “Dirty Deeds…”: just four fucking chords, but the majesty and menace they exude is un-fucking-believable. Or to the totally derailed twelve-bar of “The Rocker”. Or to the infinitely tender and surprisingly introspective Texas-blues-influenced “Ride on”, one of the best blues tunes the band ever wrote. Hell, buy it and listen to alla them songs, each and every one of them is a winner. What’s more important, though, is that the band displays a great maturity in songwriting, giving every song a menacing and dangerous edge and going for variety (you gots yer speeders, you gots yer boogie-downs, you gots yer uptempo rockers, you gots yer blues, so whaddafuck else do you want, huh?…).

Production

10. They don’t make ‘em anymore like they used to, in the good ole days. Harry Vanda and George Young (the duo behind The Easybeats and the huge ‘60s hit “Friday On My Mind”) produce this beast in all its hairy glory. The beefed-up guitars shine and crackle lively from the speakers, the drums sound organic and yummy, the bass is a constant thunderhead rumble and the vocals are recorded in such a lively manner as to make you feel that Bon’s really close and that you better hide the booze, the drugs and your girlfriend. Y’know, just in case…

Guitars

9,5. I won’t comment on Angus’ playing. If you don’t know his style –a combination of Chuck Berry and grizzly bear- you have no place being here, so go back and listen to U2 or whatever the fuck else you’ve been listening to. What I want to underline is how important is Malcolm to the AC/DC sound. Mal is a real rock, a riff-meister extraordinaire and the guy who anchors everything down with his dominating licks and barbed riffing; the guy who propels the music and coordinates everyone in the band. Let’s simply say that Mal is the center of AC/DC and a rhythm guitar god and stop at that, okay?…

Vocals

10. Bon Scott’s inimitable style here finds the perfect vehicle (=songs) to shine through and through. From the menacing approach of “Dirty Deeds…”, to the faux-posh accent of “Big Balls”, to the soulful, self-examining performance of “Ride On”, to the attitude-driven, rowdy-boy, don’t-give-a-flying-fuck rendering of “Problem Child”, Bon Scott has already turned into one of the best singers in rock’n’roll, powerful, nuanced, extremely expressive and totally embodying rock’s best and worst qualities. It’s a damn shame that within three years he would go and die.

Bass

8. Mark Evans was never a guy that shined alone within the band. But he is one of the most dependable bassists EVAH! A rhythmic Rock Of Ages, Mark is the bassist you want, if you wanna play RAWK,…

Drums

9,5. …Along with drummer Phil Rudd, whose no-frills, steady-as-shit drumming is one of the propulsive elements of the songs. Phil is no show-offy musician, just a mean bastard without whom AC/DC would’ve never achieved stardom

Lyrics

10. “Well I’m upper upper class high society/Gods gift to ball room notoriety/And I always fill my ball room/The event is never small/The social pages say I’ve got the biggest balls of all”. Pure unadulterated poetry, if there ever was such a thing.

Cover art

7,5. A bunch of “common people”, with their eyes covered with black bands. Who are they and, most importantly, what do they hide?…

Logo

6. No logo, just the “AC/DC” in a simple font.

Booklet

6. I got the old vinyl version of it, ergo no booklet. Live with it, okay?…

Overall and ending rant

“Dirty Deeds…” is one of the records that played a significant part in my formation as a hard rocking music aficionado. It’s also my best-loved AC/DC record. I know, of course, that there might be better AC/DC records that this, but I don’t give a fuck. This is where my heart belongs and this is the record that made me realize the importance of this band. In “Dirty Deeds…” AC/DC is not yet the burly behemoth of, say, “Highway To Hell” or “Back In Black”, sounding more like an extremely rowdy rock’n’roll/punkish band. No matter, though. The songs are great, the performances exemplary, the style impeccable, the attitude too real for comfort. This is a chances-taking band and this is a great record and if you don’t have it, you better remedy this real fast.

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1976
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Website: www.acdc.com
  • Band
  • Bon Scott: vocals
  • Angus Young: lead guitar
  • Malcolm Young: rhythm guitar
  • Mark Evans: bass
  • Phil Rudd: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Dirty deeds done dirt cheap
  • 02. Love at first feel
  • 03. Big balls
  • 04. Rocker
  • 05. Problem child
  • 06. There’s gonna be some rockin’
  • 07. (Ain’t no fun) waiting round to be a millionaire
  • 08. Ride on
  • 09. Squealer