AC/DC: The Razor’s Edge (1990)

Kronomyth 14.0: A CUT ABOVE. For the first time since Back In Black, the band turned to an outside producer, Bruce Fairbairn, the man responsible for the recent rise of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. I know, right? Only The Razor’s Edge really rocks because this is AC/DC we’re talking about. Like Mutt Lange before him, Fairbairn elevates the band’s meat-and-potatoes approach as if he were rolling out the red carpet for rock’s royalty on every song (which, of course, he was). On The Razor’s Edge, the band hasn’t changed their approach but the payoffs are bigger: “Moneytalks,” “Thunderstruck,” “Are You Ready,” “Rock Your Heart Out.” Collectively, they’re the most epic collection of AC/DC songs since Back In Black. There are, of course, hard-liners who will tell you that The Razor’s Edge comes dangerously close to being the kind of spandex rock that the band abhorred. Nuh-uh. This is the same AC/DC you know and love with just a little more spit and polish. The backing vocals and atmospheric production are sometimes a touch too much, and a few of the songs (e.g., “Mistress For Christmas,” “Let’s Make It”) are better forgotten, so I wouldn’t say this is a perfect album, but those are small sins in return for forty minutes of AC decency. I think Fairbairn deserves a lot of credit for getting so much great music out of the band, especially given the dire state of Brian Johnson’s voice at this stage. That said, I don’t particularly enjoy the guitar solos on this album because they include effects that Angus doesn’t need. If the album feels a little over the top (and it does), when was AC/DC understated about anything? Like Back In Black before it, The Razor’s Edge promises another decade of decadence.

The Songs
1. Thunderstruck (4:52)
2. Fire Your Guns (2:53)
3. Moneytalks (3:45)
4. The Razors Edge (4:22)
5. Mistress For Christmas (3:58)
6. Rock Your Heart Out (4:06)
7. Are You Ready (4:10)
8. Got You By The Balls (4:29)
9. Shot of Love (3:57)
10. Let’s Make It (3:32)
11. Goodbye & Good Riddance To Bad Luck (3:14)
12. If You Dare (3:11)

All songs written by Angus Young and Malcolm Young.

The Players
Brian Johnson (vocals), Chris Slade (drums), Cliff Williams (bass guitar), Angus Young (lead guitar), Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar). Produced by Bruce Fairbairn; engineered and mixed by Mike Fraser; additional engineering by Ken Lomas and Ian Taylor.

Did You Know?

  • “The reason why I think it worked for us and Bruce was that he was a fan. He really liked the band and wanted the chance to work with us and watch the magic happen in the studio.” – Angus Young quoted in a 2004 article.
  • Like Blow Up Your Video before it, The Razor’s Edge was nominated for a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1991. (Fairbairn fared better with Aerosmith that year, who won a Grammy for “Janie’s Got A Gun.”)
  • AC/DC, as they usually do, opened the vacant drum chair to an audition, eventually selecting Chris Slade. Slade, according to a later interview, didn’t think he played very well in the audition.
  • Brian Johnson didn’t collaborate in the songwriting process, as he was tied up in the divorce from his wife of 20+ years, Carol Johnson. Carol later dated football star Malcom Macdonald, who played for Newcastle United (Brian’s favorite team) in the 1970s.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, CD and cassette in September 1990 in the US, Canada and Germany (Atco, 91413/A4-91413), the UK (Atco, WX-364) and Mexico (Atco, LPNA-7922 on brown vinyl); reached #2 on the US charts (RIAA certified 5X platinum record) and #4 on the UK charts. Also released on picture disc in 1991 in the UK (Atco, WX-364P). Re-released on digitally remastered 180g vinyl elpee and CD in 2003 in the US (Epic, E2-/80213), the UK (Sony, 510771-1/2) and Korea (Epic, CPK-2931).


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