"Powerage" is the 4th studio album by Australian hard rock band, AC/DC. It was released in 1978 on Atlantic Records and produced by Harry Vanda & George Young. The line-up for the album was Bon Scott (vocals), Angus Young (guitar), Malcolm Young (guitar), Cliff Williams (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums).
This was the first album with Cliff Williams as the new bassist, after the departure of Mark Evans due to musical differences. There are contrasting stories as to his departure, ranging from the band needing an experienced bass player to wanting a bassist with backing vocal capabilities. "Powerage" peaked at No.26 on the UK album charts and the only single taken from the album, "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation", hit No.24 in the UK singles charts.
Rock 'n' Roll Damnation
This is an excellent start to the album. It encapsulates everything that is hard rock, turns it upside down and inside out, and then spits it out as driven music. Bon's vocals are in great form and the song has that classic AC/DC riff all over it. It is a song about how the rock genre is put down and discredited as being just 'noise', while most people that listen to it realize the musicians who play it have some serious talent.
Down Payment Blues
This is a slow song which starts with a quiet riff, getting slightly louder with every verse. It is not the best AC/DC song, but it still has a certain quality about it. As the title suggests, it's a very blues-orientated track, and is about a man who struggles to make ends meet in a rock and roll band, but is still living the high life, in order to impress the women.
Gimme a Bullet
This is a song about a relationship gone wrong and the baggage that comes with it. Referring to biting the bullet, the narrator is saying that if he bites down hard enough, it will take the pain of losing his girl away. It's another riff infused rock and roll song with some excellent vocals from Bon Scott. The chorus is happy and cheerful, even if the lyrics are not.
This is a straight out hard rock song with Malcolm's rhythm guitar backing up Angus' insane lead. The two brothers sound so good that the Phil Rudd's drumming goes barely unnoticed, which is a crime because it has got a no nonsense beat to it. This comes close to being the best song on the album, and the soloing Angus does throughout is mind-blowing. It is a song about mistaken identity and how the narrator is just out enjoying himself doing no wrong when he's picked up for something.
In contrast to the previous song, this is a slow song based on Bon Scott's partying in Las Vegas. He is telling us what he's doing in Sin City and the things he's seen, from gamblers winning big to losing a fortune, and the different characters he meets along the way. It is a fine example of how good AC/DC is at time changes within songs, especially with Angus' furious solo in the middle which leads to another very slow verse. If you want blues, and if you want rock, it's all on this record.
What's Next to the Moon
This is a sinister look on losing a woman and getting rid of her by different means; tying her to a railroad track or throwing her off a cliff, and eventually being caught for the crime. It has great a harmony between Bon's vocals and the backing vocals in the third verse and last chorus, and is one of the most underrated AC/DC songs. The ending riff sounds a lot like Blue Oyster Cult's classic, "Don't Fear the Reaper", which was released two years beforehand. As for the title of the song, that is a different matter altogether!
This track has a simple, yet incredible riff by Angus which hides dark lyrics. It's a song about how the narrator is struggling to cope with his woman's heroin addiction and how he's feeling the pressure with having no choice but to leave her. The song is another of those classic AC/DC blues-driven numbers with an elongated Angus Young solo, which breathes life into its slow tempo.
Up to My Neck in You
This is a hidden gem of a song, which is helped along by an incredibly catchy set of verses - the song doesn't really have a chorus as such. Bon Scott is at his very best here as he sings away with such commitment that it comes to near the end of the song before you realize Angus has started a solo. Some people may be surprised by its brilliance, but it definitely has that raw energy. This is one of those songs which is best listened to while driving down a deserted highway late at night when you're tired and wanting to get home, as it will perk you up, releasing a boost of extra energy that only comes with an excellent rock song.
Kicked in the Teeth
This song ends the album on a high, as once again Bon Scott delivers his vocals with passion before the band kicks in on a hard-rocking tune which is rarely played live but is one of those songs a lot of fans would wish for. It has great riffs and it has Angus shredding a solo so fast that you'd think his fingers would be on fire. It's another of those AC/DC songs about a woman and how the narrator keeps on taking her back because even though she hurts him in every way, she can't do nothing wrong in his eyes.
AC/DC fans will harp on about how good albums like "Back in Black" or "Highway to Hell" are, but with "Powerage" you get what you see, and it is an album with passion, an album with great songs, and an album that eclipses both of those. It was around this time when AC/DC had that magic that no other band had, and they themselves didn't and couldn't reproduce anything like it before or after, as far as many fans are concerned. If you want an AC/DC album because you're curious on the band's genre, look no further than "Powerage". It is a very good example of how a hard rock band should sound like.
- Rock 'n' Roll Damnation
- Down Payment Blues
- Gimme a Bullet
- Riff Raff
- Sin City
- What's Next to the Moon
- Gone Shootin'
- Up to My Neck in You
- Kicked in the Teeth