By the beginning of the Eighties AC/DC were probably the biggest rock band in the world, or as they preferred to be called, “A little rock & roll band, nothing more, nothing less.”
Sadly, nothing is certain in life and things easily change. The decade proved not to be a good one for AC/DC and four sub-standard albums that had been panned by critics saw the record buying public all but desert them. They were still a massive attraction on the live market but there the crowds wanted the old hits, not the more recent tracks from the latest albums.
As the Nineties dawned however it was time for a new album release, and a change in the lineup also as drummer Steve Wright left for Dio, his place being filled by Chris Slade. There were several other notable changes too. Mike Fraser was brought in as the sound engineer and Chris Fairbairn as producer, the latter having previously worked with both Aerosmith and Bon Jovi.
The band recorded this album in Ireland and Canada but lead singer Brian Johnson, who had seemed a little off his game since “For Those About To Rock” in 1981, was not available for the first few months of recording as he was dealing with a messy divorce. So the decision was taken to write the songs without him and Malcolm and Angus Young wrote the lyrics, something that Johnson later revealed he was relieved about. The Young brothers in the future carried on writing all the songs, allowing Johnson to concentrate on his singing.
The results in the songwriting change were unquestionably for the better. It got AC/DC, if not quite back firing on all six cylinders, at least up and running again. Brian Johnson seemed to have benefited the most, with his voice having the charisma of old again. The guitar play of the Young brothers was back to its best and the new rhythm section worked perfectly.
There are some classic songs on “Razors Edge” which became firm favorites with the live crowds, allowing AC/DC to spice up their live set. Album opener (and also concert opener for more than a decade) is the AC/DC classic “Thunderstruck” and is still included in the band’s set today. With it’s opening Angus Young guitar riff, the crowd chanting and Johnson telling the audience they had been “Thunderstruck” while leering at them, it was a sure fire hit.
The opening track on the album is followed by a trio of storming rockers right out of the AC/DC cannon; “Fire Your Guns”, “Money Talks” (which was released with a fabulous video that had heavy rotation on MTV), and the title cut “Razors Edge”. From here on however it sadly all rather fades away. Quite simply two of the songs, “Mistress For Christmas” and “Shot Of Love” are plain awful, whilst the others all sound a bit like a version of AC/DC just going through the motions.
But never mind, the album did its trick and went to number two in the American Billboard Charts and sold 5 million copies in America alone, whilst in the UK it went to number four. AC/DC were definitely back. Why they missed out the apostrophe in the title however is unfathomable and has not been put right to this day. Three and a half stars out of five.
Brian Johnson – vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar
Malcolm Young – guitar
Cliff Williams – bass guitar
Chris Slade – drums
Fire Your Guns
Mistress For Christmas
Rock Your Heart Out
Are You Ready
Shot Of Love
Let’s Make It
Goodbye and Good Riddance
If You Dare
Note: Written by Mott The Dog from Jameson’s, The Irish Pub, Soi AR, North Pattaya.