There will be more familial introspection next time. This time, let’s just cut to the chase.
I have mentioned before that AC/DC was this close to being a major influence to me, as far as musical performance goes(but ultimately bead out by The Eurythmics). There was plenty of influence to be had by the Aussies, though; I was enamored with the fact that Angus Young used no effects pedals or after-studio filters, used to the extreme(Extreme, even…) in rock music during the time–Young’s overdrive techniques were the first ones I would fall in love with, before I even knew what “overdrive” was. And, somehow, when I would learn more about how pop music was constructed and found real disdain in “simple” music, I never lost my love for AC/DC, as straight-ahead as they might be.
I have also already mentioned how important, musically, the year 1990 was for my budding crush on rock-and-roll music. By September of 1990, when The Razor’s Edge was to be released, I had already worked my way through the entire AC/DC catalog; hearing it for the first time was less about discovery and more about, “will this one be any good?”
I had every right to doubt. Both a reissue of ’74 Jailbreak and the Who Made Who? compilation gave me, early on, foresight to develop a more cronological feel for the AC/DC catalog, and it’s fair to say, at least for how my tastes run, that all the good stuff was with Bon Scott, and, save for the almost lucky in it’s rocking-ness Back In Black, all the good stuff ended with Bon Scott’s death. There were some decent tunes, but the only album of new material to be released during my new-found fandom was Blow Up Your Video. There were some good tunes on Blow Up Your Video; “That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ‘N Roll”, “Heatseeker”, and the terribly underrated “Two’s Up” are the glue that kept a decent Brian Johnson-era album together.
Unfortunately, “decent Brian Johnson-era album” doesn’t equate to much. Simon Wright’s drumming just never fit(he replaced original drummer Phil Rudd after 1983’s Flick Of The Switch, and after 1983’s drunken and drug-addled physical altercations with Malcom Young)and made the backing section of the band, the true secret to their success, sound clunky and seperated, and on this, his last album with the band, it was no better if not worse. Also, the entire album sounded like it was recorded in an empty high-school cafeteria; weird echos and reverbs made whatever looseness the rhythm section have seem magnified and muddy.
There were some pre-release promises from The Razor’s Edge; Simon Wright had been replaced by Chris Slade. Slade, much like Tom Jones’ index finger, had played with everyone(including Tom Jones), and even though he was only hired on for the album’s recording for his studio savvy, he was formally asked to join and tour with the band, double concert bass drums and all. Also important; Malcom Young was out of rehab and sober enough to contribute to the album’s recording. The album’s recording itself was an improvement; out of the echoes of tax-free France and into the probably tax-freer studios of Vancouver gave the album a much more tight and controlled feel. Brian Johnson was too busy with his divorce to meddle with the songwriting, although he probably did contribute, as usual, to the lyrics.
Which brings us to “Mistress For Christmas”, one of the weaker songs on the album. Now, one of the big differences between the Scott/Johnson eras of AC/DC are the lyrics. Although both contain perhaps “womanizing” lyrics, the Scott era lyrics seem more impish and silly, even self-deprecating, whereas the Johnson lyrics seem at the least sophomoric, and the worst misogynistic. Scott? More of a “here’s what I think of that lady.” Johnson? “Guess what I’m going to do to you!” That tradition continues on with this song; even though Johnson was born in England, his lyrics are so silly as to have a Scorpions-esque grasp of the English language. If you will:
I like female form in minimum dress
Money to spend with a capital S
Get a date with a woman in red
One of me in heaven with three in a bed
You would think “Got You By The Balls”, “Let’s Make It”, and “Shot Of Love” would have met the Bevis Quota on their own, but this song kind of sticks in the middle, separating the obvious hits from the “maybe kind of” songs, as most modern-day albums do. But, hey, one more gave us this Christmas song to scoff sexual laws and morays, the reason for the season!