AC/DC - Power Up album review
Release date November 13, 2020 (Columbia)
Call me a party pooper, but I seem to be one of those few AC/DC fans who doesn't wait with bated breath for a new album from the band anymore. And why shouldn't I be pessimistic given that it's been some 25 years since one of their releases contained any semblance of energy (Ballbreaker) and 37 years since they issued a truly great album (Flick of the Switch). The last three (Stiff Upper Lip, Black Ice and Rock Or Bust), issued over a twenty year period (!), were assimilated and ignored quickly, never to visit my death deck ever again.
Here's the problem from this long time fan's perspective. I've been following them since Let There Be Rock was a new release, when the unit was a high intensity threatening act, with an added wicked sense of humour. Of course, Bon Scott was taken away from us too early, and with that the band deteriorated into lewd, unsubtle, teenage humour in its place. More importantly though, the band lost the electricity factor over time, comfortable in delving mainly in mid-tempo, hummable radio fodder instead, playing with the intensity of soon-to-be-retired dudes twiddling away from rocking chairs on a porch.
So, walking into this with minimal expectations, I was met with ... more of the same. We're presented with track after track of middling-paced songs, some with hooky choruses, some without. All soon to be forgotten, certainly no reason for celebration. On the positive side though, the band sound a tad more alive on this compared to the last two records, due to a superior production job, and it's damn heartening to hear that the Rudd/Williams rhythm section is together once again. Then there's also the welcome return of Brian Johnson, who sounds in top form here. Too bad then that the material is so middle-of-the-road and repetitive, made for background consumption, aggression levels barely perceptible. The fire that used to often bring the music to a boiling point has now been reduced to a permanent pilot-light setting.
The bottom line here is that if you're a classic rock or casual AC/DC fan, this may stroke your interest for a short period, but it will soon be forgotten like Stiff Upper Lip, Black Ice and Rock Or Bust was. And if you're an old school fan who yearns for the manic electricity of old, don't bother. Time has passed them by from this headbanger's perspective. Kinda sad actually, but easily remedied by putting Powerage on the turntable yet again. Now that's the AC/DC I'm going to remember.