razorsedgeAfter releasing a few albums so featureless that I suffer from narcolepsy thinking about them, AC/DC stopped messing around.

The greatest four-song streak in accadacca history starts with “Thunderstruck”, featuring a iconic main riff and a great vocal performance out of Brian. “Fire Your Guns” is fast boogieing rock with lots of attitude – when it wants to, this band is better at being Aerosmith than the actual Aerosmith. “Moneytalks” is fun, catchy, and irresistable. “The Razors Edge” is another patented AC/Creepy song…maybe their second best AC/Creepy song, after “Hell’s Bells.”

After these four songs end, the album goes into fillerland, but even the filler sounds energetic, switched-on, and inspired. Listen to “Rock Your Heart Out”, with its nimble, ninja-like slashes of guitar and bass weaving through Chris Slade’s percussion. “If You Dare” is built around a catchy hook-and-release formula. “Are You Ready” is a drawling, sprawling song that sounds like a bar’s last call encapsulated in music.  “Shot of Love” has a hard, mid-tempo grind. On every track, the band sounds muscular, vital, and alive.

What happened? Slade is definitely a factor. His drumming is much busier and more interesting than Phil “Wants To Be A Metronome” Rudd. I gather he didn’t work out personality-wise, but he’s probably the best drummer AC/DC has worked with. Normally Angus and Mal’s riffs are what I pay attention to when I listen to this band. On The Razors Edge I listen to the drumming, too.

The production is also a bit different to past records. The muddy, reverb-saturated din of Fly on the Wall et al has been traded out for the crisp production style that AC/DC has used ever since.  The title is appropriate, as this record has a sound sharp enough to shave with. This is the first AC/DC album to not be immediately dated by its production style.

But mostly, it’s the songs. They are good, and nothing else is required – the new drummer and revamped sound are just paint. I don’t know what happened, but the band seems revitalised and renewed.

AC/DC realises that never changing your music can be a bug, but it can also be a feature. While other bands are getting in on prog rock or grunge or nu metal, AC/DC just keeps doing what they do, oblivious to trends. On this album though, they made some subtle shifts, and all of them were for the best.

This lineup fell apart, and AC/DC began another gradual slide into boredom. But this was an exciting album, not just on its own merits, but because of what it portends for the future. The old power lives on. AC/DC might seem hooked up to life support these days, but only a fool pronounces them dead.

The missing apostrophe bugs me, though.

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