It was announced earlier this week that this year will see Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum become the only European hosts of an exhibition looking at the history of one of music’s biggest ever bands, the mighty AC/DC. This is only right as three of the original band hail from Scotland. Lead singer Bon Scott was born in Kirriemuir, appropriately enough a town in Angus, and the Young brothers, Malcolm and Angus, belong tae Glasgow.
Scott died in 1980 and was replaced by leather lunged Geordie Brian Johnston, but the Youngs remain, and it is their guitar dynamic that is the heart of the bands huge success. They were the first band that I became a proper fan of in that I wanted all of their output, posters on the wall, and t-shirts which declared my allegiance. Of all the bands that I used to listen to in my pre/early-teen metal days it’s only AC/DC and Motorhead that I still do so today, whereas the likes of Maiden, Saxon, Y&T, Rainbow et al have all been consigned to my musical history. Actually AC/DC were never really heavy metal, but a blues and rock n’ roll band who liked to play it fast and loud. I’m really only mentioning all of this as an excuse to play some of my favourite clips of theirs. Live is where they really make the most sense, and if you do get the chance to see them I suggest you take it.
First up, is a cover of Big Joe Williams blues classic Baby Please Don’t Go, later covered by Van Morrison’s Them. It’s a brilliant clip which captures all that is great about the band. It’s stupid, childish, played at a hundred miles an hour, and with everything turned up to eleven:
The next is great for at least four reasons. Firstly it was recorded at Glasgow’s legendary and still sadly missed Apollo, a venue that everyone from ABBA to ZZ Top hailed as being a special place. The band all don Scotland football kits for the encore, and Bon Scott’s assertion that Scotland would be the next world champions seems not only laughable, but cruel when viewed through the lens of history, but in 1978 the whole country seemed to think that there was a chance it could happen. And then there’s the music. The band do an approximation of The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond before launching into one of their greatest ever tracks Rocker. Or to put it another way; they played a blinder:
Both of these clips are from the Bon Scott era AC/DC. They have made good music since, particularly the monumental Back in Black, but every album from the original band is outstanding. To prove that these were classic rock songs, and as a contrast to all this noise, this is ex-Red House Painter singer Mark Kozelek’s version of the classic If You Want Blood. Kozelek’s first solo EP, Rock N’ Roll Singer, had three AC/DC covers on it, and his first full length album, What’s Next To The Moon, was a full album’s worth. I loved The Red House Painters and I love AC/DC, so unsurprisingly it became one of my favourite albums, and remains so to this day. Some people may think that these versions don’t work, but such people are mistaken:
The exhibition starts in September and runs until January 2012. It’s got some act to follow after the huge success of last year’s The Glasgow Boy’s exhibition, but if anyone can Angus and Co can.