Black Ice cover

As I get older, a lot of things I used to enjoy simply don’t mean much to me anymore.  Things like baseball cards, professional wrestling, and going to the movies are just three examples that just don’t measure up like they used to.  But there is still one event that always brings me a smile to my face when it occasionally happens. That special occasion is when the new album of the band you love hits the the market.  And it’s so much more special when you hold the album in your hands because the band has made you wait eight long years for it.  Finally, on October 20th of 2008, AC/DC released their long awaited new album, Black Ice.  I’m still shaking with excitement as I write this article while listening to some new rocking tunes from the greatest hard rock band of all time.  With AC/DC, you know what you are getting.  They aren’t going to surprise you with a concept album, a political album about their thoughts on George Bush and the war, or a surprise collaboration with Bono.  The only thing you have to be concerned with is how many of the songs will include legendary melodies that will compares to classics like Highway To Hell, Whole Lotta Rosie, and Back In Black.  Even though there will be a lot of filler material, you are still going to get your dozen or so rock and roll themes.  The album was released exclusively at Wal-Mart, which means you ain’t getting it on Amazon, itunes, Best Buy, or your local indie record shop (well, unless they are willing to buy and sell at a loss!).  Although I hate giving Wal-Mart my hard-earned money, in a case like this, do I really have a choice?  I was at Wal-Mart at 8:00 this morning right before work ready to get my hands on the new album and experience that feeling which other passionate music fans know all about.    So you probably want to know what I think about the record, huh?

Before I get into the actual review of the tunes, I’d just like to make a few notes about the album.  I was hoping for a snazzier cover than was produced.  Just because Wal-Mart wanted to make even more money by offering limited edition alternate colored albums, I wasn’t biting on that string.  A cool shot of Angus Young maybe sliding on ice would have been neat!  The book insert is pretty basic.  Just a few shots of the aging rock stars (They were able to make Malcolm Young look good!), but no lyrics or other cool notes.  The album consists of 15 songs.  Now I’m happy that because of the wait, AC/DC threw a few more tracks on the album.  But, seriously, an AC/DC album should max out at 10 or 12 songs.  Fifteen is way too much!!!  I’d love to write a whole track by track synopsis for you, but I’m sure you won’t have the time and energy to read it all just like I don’t have the time and energy to write it.  Here’s a quick thought on each song:

1) Rock & Roll Train-I’m now starting to think that this tune will become one of the essential songs for AC/DC, right up there with You Shook Me All Night Long and For Those About To Rock.  I’m loving it more and more and think it will probably end up being my personal favorite song of 2008.  The song songs just like Highway to Hell, but even Angus Young will tell you that most of their songs have a twin! (Five Stars)

2) Skies On Fire-Cliff Williams really stepped up on this track with one of the best bass riffs in an AC/DC tune.  I don’t think I’ve heard a great bass line like this since Squealer off of the Dirty Deeds album.  This song is really good!  (Four Stars)

3) Big Jack-This is the song that all of the critics seem to love.  I’m not going to go as far as saying it’s the best thing they’ve done since Back In Black, but I’m really looking forward to hearing this song live.  This will probably be the second single.  (Five Stars)

4) Anything Goes-What’s strange about this song is it sounds too poppy for AC/DC.  Not really a song that fits the band, but it’s still got a great melody.  (Four Stars)

5) War Machine-This was the only other track I previously heard before buying the album. A fun song that sound very similar to Hail Caesar from the Ballbreaker album. (Four Stars)

6) Smash N’ Grab-Filler!!!  (Three Stars)

7) Spoilin’ For A Fight-Filler!!!  (Three Stars)

8 ) Wheels-Filler!!!  (Three Stars)

9) Decibel-Filler!!!  (Three Stars)

10) Stormy May Day-Filler!!!  (Three Stars)

11) She Likes Rock & Roll-Filler!!!  (Three Stars)

12) Money Made-Filler!!!  (Three Stars)

13) Rock & Roll Dream-Another song just like Track#4 that also doesn’t sound right for thme.  Brendan O’Brien (the album’s producer) must have threatened the band with a taboo picture of Angus Young’s wife to get them to do a song like this.  It’s a great song, and probably done to appeal to a mainsteam audience.  (Four Stars)

14) Rocking All The Way-Nice anthem! (Four Stars)

15) Black Ice-AC/DC usually comes up with a great end track on their albums.  The streak continues with the title track from the album.  (Four Stars)

Of course it’s the cool thing to be on the AC/DC bandwagon, and all the critics have reaped praise on the band calling Black Ice the best thing the band has done since Back In Black.  The sad part is that most of these critics probably haven’t ever listened to another AC/DC album except Back In Black.  Nothing AC/DC ever does will match anything from the Bon Scott era or Back in Black.  Why did it take twenty something years for the critics to appreciate AC/DC?  When AC/DC’s last studio album came out in 2000, nobody blinked an eye toward it.  The same would hold if Sony didn’t give AC/DC a new contract and do a heck of a job promoting the album. But with the rise in popularity due to celebrities wearing AC/DC logoed shirts, Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games, hip hop artists trying to sample AC/DC riffs, and the acceptance of classic hard rock in pop culture,  AC/DC was back in the public eye.  There has much buzz about the new AC/DC album for years, and the new album couldn’t have come out at a better time!

There is no doubt that this will be AC/DC’s biggest album since 1981’s For Those About To Rock, but any new fans of the band need to make sure that Black Ice isn’t the only AC/DC album that’s going to be listened to on their iPods.   They have to own Back In Black (obviously!), Highway To Hell, Powerage, The Razor’s Edge, Let There Be Rock, High Voltage, and Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap). It’s still a bit early since I’ve only got a day’s listening of Black Ice opposed to ten years plus of listening to AC/DC’s catalog, but I truly believe that Black Ice is probably the third best album of the Brian Johnson era.  I’m sticking to my guns by not letting all this hype get to me and will not be biased. I give the album an A-.  Not AC/DC’s greatest album since Back In Black!  That honor has to go to the album that made me an AC/DC fan, and that album is The Razor’s Edge.  Yet, Black Ice was worth the wait, and I’m curious to see if it does better than Metallica’s Death Magnetic which could be tough as Black Ice was only available via Wal-Mart.  But The Eagles did well with their Wal-Mart exclusive album, so who knows?  All I do know is today was a great day, and one I’ve been looking forward to for some time.   Such a powerful feeling!  And it only gets better come November 19th when I see them live at the Izod Center in East Rutherford!

For Those About To Rock, I Salute You!