[Review] AC/DC: For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)

Back in brown. If this is a slight notch below the last two Mutt Lange-produced records, I’ll still stand up and salute it.

Kronomyth 9.0: We’ve got the biggest cannonballs of them all.

It was a long way to the top for AC/DC. Before they began their inevitable descent, they rested at the plateau of perfection for one more album. For Those About To Rock We Salute You completes the royal triumvirate of AC/DC records produced by Mutt Lange. Recorded in France, Rock is immaculately produced and engineered, which is both its crowning achievement and its Achilles heel.

Lange’s approach is different this time: the songs start with the spark of an idea and then quickly catch fire, building into a pyre of heavy metal majesty. The technique is best captured on songs like “For Those About To Rock” and “C.O.D.,” where the man called Mutt creates an almost Pavlovian anticipation of the power chords to come. Yet there is the sense that the thunder and lightning, which arrived so naturally in the past, is staged this time.

If Lange seemed intent on cleaning up the band’s sound, Angus and the band certainly didn’t bother to clean up their act. Brian Johnson’s voice is absolutely brutal on this record, while the lyrics (like the infamous album cover) offer only the barest pretense of innuendo. “Let’s Get It Up,” “Inject the Venom,” “I Put the Finger on You,” no confusion what they’re talking about there.

Success tends to spoil a band. Sometimes the change is overnight, other times it’s more insidious. AC/DC’s saving grace over the years has been to stick to the same game plan, and the success of For Those About To Rock is built on that solid foundation. It’s more polished than you might remember, and little here will raise your lighter as high as “You Shook Me All Night Long,” but you cannon argue with the fact that AC/DC earned its army of followers with albums like this.

Original LP Version

A1. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) (5:44)
A2. I Put the Finger on You (3:26)
A3. Let’s Get It Up (3:54)
A4. Inject the Venom (3:31)
A5. Snowballed (3:23)
B1. Evil Walks (4:24)
B2. C.O.D. (3:39)
B3. Breaking the Rules (4:23)
B4. Night of the Long Knives (3:26)
B5. Spellbound (4:30)

All songs written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson.

The Players

Brian Johnson (lead vocals), Phil Rudd (drums, percussion), Angus Young (lead guitar), Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Cliff Williams (bass). Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange; engineered by Mark Dearnley; mix engineered by Mark Thoener.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on November 23, 1981 in the US (Atlantic, SD/CS 11111), the UK (Atlantic, K 50851), Canada (Atlantic, XSD 11111), Colombia (Atlantc, 23(7031)00293), Germany (Atlantic, ATL 50851) and Japan (Atlantic, P-11068A) with gatefold cover. Reached #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 4x platinum record) and #3 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Atlantic, A2-11111).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc on October 25, 1985 in Japan (Atlantic, 32XD-321).
  3. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1994 in the US (Atlantic, 92412-2) and Japan (Atco, AMCY-4022).
  4. Re-packaged with Flick of the Switch and Fly On The Wall on 3CD box set in Australia (Albert, 470078).
  5. Re-issued on remastered 180g vinyl elpee and compact disc in 2003 in the US (Epic, EK 80208), the UK (Sony, 5107666-1), Australia (Sony BMG, 66622) and Korea (Epic, CPK-2918).
  6. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in Japan (Sony, SICP-1708).
  7. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2008 in Japan (Sony, SICP-1708) and again in Japan (Sony, SICP-2038).
  8. Re-packaged with T.N.T. on 2-for-1 compact disc in Russia (CD-Maximum).

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