AC/DC: Fly On The Wall (1985)

Kronomyth 12.0: SHOO TO THRILL. Fly On The Wall is the book report scribbled out in the early morning before first period. Disappointing, because the band is capable of great things. And yet AC/DC had laid the foundation for raw and simple heavy metal, so overthinking the music would be antithetical to their, um, idiom. The trouble with Fly, as it turns out, isn’t the hurried state of the songwriting but the harsh state of Brian Johnson’s voice; it’s so unintelligible in spots that a lyric sheet is actually necessary. Or maybe not, since if you know the song title then you’ve already got half the lyrics. There are a number of AC/DC fans who will tell you this is underrated, good dirty fun, and it is… if your idea of fun is hearing AC/DC live down to their potential. If you don’t like the band, this is just the sort of fuel you’re looking for—and in 1985, a lot of folks were gunning for AC/DC and youth-corrupting rock and roll in general. Although nothing on here belongs with their best work, you can salvage some of it: “Shake Your Foundations,” “Sink The Pink.” Both of those songs turned up on Who Made Who, however, so you can opt out of owning Fly if you want. At this stage, AC/DC’s music had become a predictable product: head-banging rhythms, lascivious lyrics, great guitar solos and lots of energy. Fly On The Wall delivers on these four cornerstones, but barely. The band who exemplified cartoonish rock excess in the ‘70s was becoming a caricature of rock in the ‘80s, even as they tried to take a stand against the greater evil, hair metal. Aerosmith kind of had the same problem for a little while before they just gave in to it. If you’re convinced that there’s no such thing as a bad AC/DC album, I won’t disavow you of the notion. I will agree that what separates a good AC/DC album from a bad one is probably a combination of timing and two or three great songs. If you’re determined to buy this record, get it on compact disc since the vinyl version is punchless.

Original LP Version
A1. Fly On The Wall (3:43)
A2. Shake Your Foundations (4:08)
A3. First Blood (3:40)
A4. Danger (4:22)
A5. Sink The Pink (4:14)
B1. Playing With Girls (3:44)
B2. Stand Up (3:53)
B3. Hell Or High Water (4:31)
B4. Back In Business (4:22)
B5. Send For The Man (3:26)

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

The Players
Brian Johnson (vocals), Cliff Williams (bass guitar), Simon Wright (drums), Angus Young (lead guitar), Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar). Produced by Angus & Malcom Young; engineered by Mark Dearnley.

Did You Know?

  • In 1985, the band caught heat for the killings committed by avowed AC/DC fan Richard Ramirez (a.k.a. The Night Stalker). That year also saw the formation of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), who included AC/DC in their “Filthy Fifteen” for the song “Let Me Put My Love Into You,” which they claimed was about sex. (Seriously, is there an AC/DC song that isn’t about sex?)
  • Simon Wright, on auditioning to replace Phil Rudd: “I answered an ad in the musicians wanted section of an English music paper called Sounds. It read: ‘Drummer needed, if you don’t hit hard don’t apply.’ I do, so I applied.” (source)
  • The band also released a short film called Fly On The Wall featuring five tracks from the album.

The Pictures
Art direction by Bob Defrin. Cover illustration by Todd Schorr.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, compact disc and cassette on June 28, 1985 in Australia and New Zealand (Albert, APLP-431066), the US (Atlantic, 81263-1-E), the UK, Germany and Spain (Atlantic, 781 263-1), Argentina (Atlantic/WEA, 80912/90912), Brazil (Atlantic, 6047141), Canada (Atlantic, 78 12631/4, CD 81263), Colombia (Atlantic/Philips, 6082), Japan (Atlantic, P-13152), Mexico (Atlantic, LWA-6404) and Venezuela (Atlantic, 3088); reached #32 on the US charts (RIAA certified platinum record) and #7 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in Australia (Albert, 477092-2).
  2. Re-released on remastered 180g vinyl elpee and compact disc in 2003 in the US (Epic, E-80210/-2) and the UK (Sony, 510768-1/2).
  3. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in Japan (Atlantic, AMCY-6229).
  4. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Sony, SICP-1710).

Leave a Reply

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