Monday, August 20, 2007

AC/DC-Ballbreaker

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EastWest
1995

I recall borrowing this one from a friend when it came out and I dismissed it after one listen. A few years later I realized that I had misjudged it to some extent. I think there are two factors as to why this was their best album in years. Number one is the return of Phil Rudd behind the drums. I think his simple, but effective style is too often overlooked. No offense to Chris Slade and Simon Wright, but Phil Rudd was the best drummer this band ever had. The second reason is that Rick Rubin was at the helm this time around. The production values are fine and they always have been, but it's more than that. There are a number of songs here that are the same old thing such as "The Honey Roll" and "Cover you in oil". Yet many of the other song see the band getting back to the subtle control of the music that they were once so perfect at. I think Rubin had a hand in that and the band would not have brought him in if they had been completely satisfied with where they were. One of the major strengths of this band to me has always been how they could start a song so simply and just draw you in. I think for several of the previous albums they got away from that approach. On this album tracks like "Hard as a rock", "Burnin' Alive", "Whiskey on the rocks" and the title track all work this way. They control the pace and milk it for all it's worth. I am not Brian Johnson's biggest fan by any means, yet he has some moments here and there. There are a few tracks where the bands takes a slightly more serious demeanor. On "The Furor", "Burnin' Alive" and "Hail Caesar" they go at it differently and these are the tracks where Johnson seems to be giving it more effort than normal and he sounds stronger. The Young brothers are as sharp as ever and keep things going nicely for the most part. This is not an album that defines the band, but it is an album with plenty to offer. It also came after they had been at it for over twenty years yet they were still coming up with different ways to refine their sound.

***AC/DC week continues with a review of Dirty Deeds done dirt cheap on Tuesday.

8 Comments:

Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

I bought this cd when it first came out. I liked it but it still sounded like they were going through the motions on quite a few of the tunes.

8:47 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Because of the "going through the motions" feeling I alos got on everything after (and, in some ways, including) The Razor's Edge, I have never given any of the "recent" AC/DC albums much of a chance. Maybe I should re-evaluate.

-- david

3:28 AM  
Blogger Andre du Plessis said...

Also bought it when it came out. Anybody that writes a song called "Whiskey on the Rocks" is OK in my book. AC/DC's lack of innovation are starting to grind them especially on the last album I heard (Stiff Upperlip) unfortunately. But I see you are going to review one of my faves next.

4:53 AM  
Blogger aXe mAn said...

I am not as familiar with this album as a lot of their other ones, but I will have to give it another listen.
Good review Mark.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Hard Rock Hideout said...

It has been a while since I have listened to Ballbreaker. When I do listen to AC/DC I tend to play the classic stuff.

I may have to give this another listen.

Rob Rockitt
Hard Rock Hideout
www.hardrockhideout.com

8:18 AM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

I think Rick Rubin helps bands to find themselves, so it doesn't surprise me that he's done so for AC/DC. Unfortunately, I doubt that'll do me much good, because I'm not that crazy about the Bo Scott stuff, let alone everything after where they carry on with a singer that can't sing. When you say the Young brothers are "as sharp as ever," does that mean they're about as sharp as a butter knife? I don't think sharp would ever be a term to describe those two even among people who find them to be talented.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

fuzz-I thought that at first too, but it grew on me.

David-A lot of the post back in black albums have some problems, but there are some good ones in there as well.

Andre-Stiff upper lip has some good moments, but some dull ones as well.

axe man-Thanks.

HRH-I normally get around to listening to all of their albums every so often

Bob-I have never understood why you are not into AC/DC. To me they are to hard rock what Motorhead are to metal and what the Ramones were to punk rock. A simple, straight ahead approach that works. Just basic and solid for the most part.

8:59 AM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

I don't own a lot of AC/DC. I liked Dirty Deeds and Back and Black and love Razors Edge. I've been meaning to check a lot more of their work, but with a lot of their albums so readily available, I have been in no rush.

1:26 PM  

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