[Review] AC/DC: High Voltage (1976)

This isn’t the original Australian version, but the international re-release of their explosive second album, T.N.T.

Kronomyth 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.

Read more AC/DC reviews

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 on May 14, 1976 in the UK (Atlantic, K50257), Germany (Atlantic, ATL/K4 50257) and Yugoslavia (Atlantic/Suzy, ATC 50257) and on September 28, 1976 in the US (Atco, SD/CS 36-142) and Canada (Atco, SD 36-142 Q); reached #146 on the US charts in 1982 (RIAA-certified 2x platinum record). UK version features unique cover art.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1981 in Brazil (Atlantic, 6047022).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in October 1987 in Canada (Atco, CD 36-142).
  3. Re-released on remastered CD in July 1994 in the UK (Atlantic, 92413).
  4. Re-issued on remastered 180g vinyl elpee and compact disc on October 14, 2003 in the US (Epic, E-80201) and Korea (Epic, CPK2926).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *