It has been a tumultuous time for AC/DC since their last record six years ago – as covered here – so seeing the band back together after retirements, health problems and brushes with the law is heart warming. Like Back in Black was a tribute to Bon, Power Up is a tribute to the late, great ‘DC co-founder Malcolm Young. The songs were taken from the Black Ice recording sessions as well, with lots more where they came from – so the Young writing partnership lives on.
As such you know what their 16th album is going to sound like before pressing play – no nonsense rock n roll. When numbers like the infectious lead single ‘Shot in the Dark’ and the stuttering riff and gang chanted chorus of ‘Realize’ are the results then there is nothing wrong with sticking to your guns. ‘Kick You When You’re Down’ is a belter, a punchy track with a vocal performance that belies Brian Johnson’s 73 years of age. It has been in my head since release and is a fine example of Brendan O’Brien’s clean, crisp and unfussy production – the third ‘DC album he has worked on.
Their love of smut is still alive and best served on ‘Money Shot’, they have a prescription that is best taken three times a day – hmm, what that could mean is anyone’s guess… It is about as wonderfully unsubtle as this Whitesnake number from ‘84. From sexed up to looking back, ‘Through the Mists of Time’ is a wistful nod of the head to Malcolm that still has some bite to it. ‘Demon Fire’ is a corker, it is a pacey ditty that tells a devilish tale and is reminiscent of ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’. It makes a nice thematic pairing with the previous track ‘Witches Spell’, rockstars do love evil and the occult.
The raw power and crunching power chords of final track ‘Code Red’ ends Power Up on a suitable note. With all the big riffs, silly lyrics, memorable choruses and fiery Angus Young solos you could hope for – and more hits than misses – this is the perfect tribute to Malcolm.