AC/DC: High Voltage (1976)

high voltage album coverKronomyth 2.5: T.N.2. Well, the satyr’s in seventh heaven with this one. This is NOT the band’s first Australian debut (also called High Voltage), but a re-release of their second album, T.N.T. (which featured the song “High Voltage”), distributed for international audiences. As such, this High Voltage served as AC/DC’s debut in most markets and eventually sold over two million copies here in the US. It’s an electrifying debut, the band’s signature sound already established: the power chords, the flashy guitar solos and Bon Scott’s salacious sneer. What separated AC/DC from the rest of the rock & rollers was an animal intensity colored by eccentricity. You could look back at bands like Mott The Hoople or Alice Cooper and find some precedent there, but they were really glam bands, touched by a certain feyness that’s totally absent in AC/DC’s music. (The band’s name and Scott’s cross-dressing stunt suggest they toyed with the idea originally.) On this album, all the hallmarks are there: the double entendres (“The Jack”), the anti-establishment attitude (“Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer”), the trenchant force of their music. If their music hasn’t changed much over the years, maybe it’s because AC/DC has steadfastly refused to grow up. The perspective would change, of course, as the band went from pursuing fame to living with it, but they’ve always forsaken more mature pastures for the kingdom of Id. The formula was refined on later albums like Dirty Deeds, though at the cost of some of their original intensity. On High Voltage, it’s all intense, balls-to-the-wall action from start to finish (only the early “Little Lover” lacks their patented punch). If you like Bon Scott-era AC/DC, you’ll definitely get a charge out of this.

Original LP Version
A1. It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) (5:10)
A2. Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer (5:00)
A3. The Jack (5:50)
A4. Live Wire (5:45)
B1. T.N.T. (3:30)
B2. Can I Sit Next To You, Girl (Angus Young/Malcolm Young) (4:06)
B3. Little Lover (5:26)
B4. She’s Got Balls (4:46)
B5. High Voltage (4:18)

All titles written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott unless noted.

The Players
Mark Evans (bass), Phil Rudd (drums), Bon Scott (lead singer), Angus Young (lead guitar), Malcolm Young (guitar). Produced by Harry Vanda & George Young.

The Pictures
Cover photo by Michael Putland.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette in May 1976 in the UK (Atlantic, K50257), the US (Atco, SD/CS 36-142) and Germany (Atlantic, ATL/K4 50257); reached #146 on the US charts in 1982 (RIAA-certified 2x platinum record). Re-issued on elpee in 1981 in Brazil (Atlantic, 6047022). Re-issued on CD in October 1987 in Canada (Atco, CD 36-142). Re-released on remastered CD in July 1994 in the UK (Atlantic, 92413), in 2003 in the US (Sony, 80201) and in 2003 in Korea (Epic, CPK2926).

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