[Review] AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)

The band’s classic third album. After Back in Black, Bon came back for a final bow.

Kronomyth 3.0: Bon vivant, Bon mort.

Maybe the rock & roll Fates knew what they were doing when AC/DC’s third album didn’t get a US distribution deal. The excellent High Voltage had, after all, barely scraped the Top 150 and the most that might be expected from Dirty Deeds was more (or less) of the same. Instead, the album lay unheard by most Americans until the AC/DC phenomenon was at gale force after Back In Black, when it was released to a now-adoring American audience and quickly rose to number 3 on the charts—at the time, though briefly, the band’s highest US chart position—eventually selling over 6 million copies here.

We’ll need to wind the clock back a bit, however, to get a proper perspective of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. The album was originally released in 1976 in an Australian version (unique cover, unique tracks, unique track listing) and the more widely known International version [which featured “Rocker” and “Love At First Feel” instead of “R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)” and “Jailbreak”]. I’ve only heard the International version, and it is hands-down one of the band’s tightest albums in terms of songwriting. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheep,” “Big Balls,” “Problem Child” and “Ride On” are some of the best Bon-era bits, bar none. You may not find as many Angus guitar solos on here, and there are times when Mark Evans just seems to be hitting the same note over and over, but pound for pound this stuff is still worth its weight in gold.

“Bon loved an innuendo and was obsessed with his balls.” — Malcolm Young, discussing the origins of “Big Balls” in a 1992 interview.

Of course, if T.N.T. or Let There Be Rock had been the prodigal son resurrected instead of Dirty Deeds, the band’s mythology might be different. Instead, Americans have the memory of Bon come back to say goodbye, a million-dollar check he couldn’t cash in hand, loosed from this mortal coil before he could repent, rattling about in the heavy metal hall of heroes like Marley’s ghost and probably having more fun than you are right now.

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Original LP Version (Australia)

A1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
A2. Ain’t No Fun (Waiting ‘Round To Be A Millionaire)
A3. There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’
A4. Problem Child
B1. Squealer
B2. Big Balls
B3. R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)
B4. Ride On
B5. Jailbreak

Original LP Version (UK, US, etc.)
A1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (3:46)
A2. Love At First Feel (3:05)
A3. Big Balls (2:39)
A4. Rocker (2:46)
A5. Problem Child (5:43)
B1. There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’ (3:14)
B2. Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire) (6:57)
B3. Ride On (5:47)
B4. Squealer (5:12)

All titles by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott.

8-track cassette version (US reissue)
A1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
A2. Love At First Feel
A3. Big Balls
B1. Rocker
B2. Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)
C1. Problem Child
C2. Ride On (part 1)
D1. Ride On (part 2)
D2. There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’
D3. Squealer

The Players
Mark Evans (bass guitar), Phil Rudd (drums), Bon Scott (vocals), Angus Young (lead guitar), Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar, backing vocals). Produced by Vanda & Young.

The Pictures
Original US sleeve design & photos by Hipgnosis. Inner sleeve photos by Paul Canty.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette on September 20, 1976 in Australia (Albert, APLP.020), and on December 17, 1976 in the UK (Atlantic, K 50323), Argentina (Atlantic, SLIN-3207), Colombia (Atlantic, 23(7031)00252), Germany (Atlantic, ATL/K4-50323) and Venezuela (Atlantic, 200.2848). Australian version features different track listing and album cover.

  1. Remixed and re-released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on March 27, 1981 in the US (Atlantic, SD/CS/TP-16033) and Canada (Atlantic, XSD-16033) and in 1981 in Brazil (Atlantic, 20060) and Japan (Atlantic, P-10994A) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #3 on the US charts (RIAA certified 6X platinum record).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Yugoslavia (Suzy, ATL-50323).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Atco, 16033-2).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in Germany (Atlantic, 781481).
  5. Re-issued on compact disc in Australia (Albert, 465258 2).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc in Australia (Albert/EMI, CDP 746273 2).
  7. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1994 in the US and Canada (Atco, 92414-2).
  8. Re-issued on compact disc in 2001 in Japan (Atlantic, AMCY-6220).
  9. Re-released on remastered 180g vinyl elpee and compact disc on February 18, 2003 in the US (Epic, E/K 80202) and in 2003 in the UK (Sony, 5107601) and Korea (Epic, CPK-2927).
  10. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Sony, SICP-1701).
  11. Re-packaged with The Razor’s Edge on 2CD in 2007 in Australia (Sony, 15884-2).

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