But what you’ve really got to respect about Angus and the boys is not just that they’ve stayed on top for more than three decades now, but that they’ve done so without really changing a thing.
Their formula is a deceptively simple one. Simple, crunchy sounding power chords set to a primal 4/4 beat that doesn’t really change one bit from song to song or album to album. AC/DC’s stock in trade is songs like “Girls Got Rhythm” and “Whole Lotta Rosie” that are for the most part really just barely disguised metaphors for doin’ the nasty. They are also played very, very loud.
Putting Angus and his devil horns, and album titles like Highway To Hell aside for just a moment, the bible thumpers back in the eighties who swore these guys really were literally agents of old scratch (remember all that nonsense about AC/DC standing for “Anti Christ Devil Crusade”), had it all wrong. There’s just no way you can miss the fact that like all great rock and roll, what these guys are really about is sex, sex, and more sex. Well okay, maybe that and a little good old fashioned youthful rebellion.
Anyway, in the time honored rock and roll tradition, you can’t go wrong with that right? It may not have a lot of depth to it, but it’ll definitely get you out of your chair and on up on your feet shaking your ass. AC/DC haven’t changed this formula by a single note from day one. The fact that it has kept them on top only proves they are either fooling us all and are really mensa level geniuses, or the luckiest sumbitches alive.
But even a band of notorious bad boys like AC/DC has to eventually make some concessions to the economic reality of todays music business. To that end, their new re-release of the live DVD No Bull: The Directors Cut, like their upcoming new album Black Ice, will be a WalMart exclusive – meaning that’s the only place you will be able to buy it.
Not only is it a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, it apparently is an equally long way from independent record stores to the shelves of a mega-retailer with more than a few ties to the religious right. Which makes me wonder if the Walton family has actually listened to AC/DC songs like “The Jack.”
Irony there aside, No Bull: The Directors Cut is an updated version of a 1996 AC/DC concert that was filmed by David Mallet at the Plaza De Toros De Las Ventas, which is a bullfighting arena in Madrid, Spain. The new version has been re-edited in high definition and given a fresh new Dolby 5.1 remix job.
For their part, Angus, Malcolm and the rest of the guys sound tight as a thirteen year old virgin here, and the video is equally crisp and clean. It’s everything you’d expect from a AC/DC concert. Angus Young wears his schoolboy outfit and does his modified Chuck Berry duckwalks when he’s not otherwise running all over the stage. Brian Johnson screeches his lungs out and continues to prove why he’s the only guy alive who could have replaced original vocalist, the late Bon Scott, and gotten away with it.
The hits are also all here – from “Highway To Hell” to “Back In Black” to “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You).” If you close your eyes for a second, you could easily be right back there at the Monsters Of Rock stadium show back in the eighties.
What AC/DC do, simple though it may be, is something that they are better at than anybody. And No Bull: The Directors Cut is as good a video document of that as you are likely to find. You’ll find it at your nearest WalMart on September 9.