This album on it’s own is a solid piece of rock sleaze. The entire band is back in good form and the remastered edition brings everything out. Brian’s vocals sound much improved and more distinguishable, the drums are floor shaking, and the guitars are crisp. Everything is tight as it should be. I’m not even going to compare this to back in black or any of there earlier works. There would be no point. It is a differen’t time and the band is older now. Take it for what it is… blues rock n’ roll. If you listen to it and your foot doesn’t move I’d dare to say you may be lacking some rythym sense. How many bands at there age can put something together with ballsy power, consistency, and focus? Don’t think to hard.
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Ballbreaker will never be considered AC/DC’s best album. That’s because it’s not. Does that mean its no good? No way! It’s a must have for any die-hard AC/DC maniac (such as myself), but it’s not exactly the CD you want to loan your wayward, uninitiated friend who’s curious about the band (that would be either High Voltag or Back in Black), because it’s not the consistently solid effort they are usually known for. Tracks like “Hard as a Rock”, “Hail Caesar”, and “Love Bomb” are vintage AC/DC, but “Caught with your pants down” (the only song by AC/DC that I truly dislike) is without question the weakest song they’ve ever recorded. Some tracks I love, some I like, one I’m borderline on, and one I dislike. “Burnin Alive” seems (to me at least) to be a commentary on Bill Clinton’s stupidity (already emerging back in 95), to my knowledge, the first time the Young boys have ever commented on current issues. It’s still a great album, and still great music, but the resence of the only truly “bad” AC/DC song on it makes it one for only seasoned fans.
Thank god Bruce Fairburn died and Rick Rubin stepped in as producer. Thank god Chris Slade, the human (?) drum-machine, was replaced by TRUE AC/DC drummer, Phil Rudd. Thank god the boys got their balls back on Ballbreaker, making it their best album since 1983’s Flick of the Switch. Anyone that says that gutless slick pop album, The Razor’s Edge, is AC/DC’s “comeback” doesn’t know what AC/DC is about. True fans love raw, no nonsense albums like Powerage and Flick of the Switch. Ballbreaker is such an album. When songs like “Hard As A Rock” and “Cover You In Oil” are the singles, you know the boys aren’t giving a *@#! about moving units (the album broke the Top-Ten despite their efforts). Ballbreaker is so many things. First, it’s a big demonic tongue stuck out to those pop-kids that were expecting another “Moneytalks”. This album is the antithesis of pop. That’s why so many people, even so-called rock fans, put it down. Yeah, Ballbreaker doesn’t get much love. That’s because there are a lot of watered-down punks who don’t keep it real and don’t know soul/power from a snappy tune. They knock Ballbreaker for being juvenile and gross. That’s what’s so great about it! AC/DC prove on Ballbreaker that just because they were now middle-aged, it didn’t mean they were going to get all tasteful and *@#!. God, I HATE taste! Nothing can spoil rock & roll more than taste. AC/DC understands this. They also understand the blues, which is the heart of rock & roll. So many people have a misconception about the blues because of these cornyass crackers like Eric Clapton or pick your pseudoass “blues-guitarist” that does a little 12-bar and bottleneck and suddenly thinks he’s in the Delta. They want to canonize the blues, make it respectable and put it in a museum. The blues isn’t just African-American folk music that expressed hardship; the blues is raw, lascivious and diabolical music. It’s Howlin’ Wolf growling about “evil”. It’s Muddy Waters, with some jagged nasty hooks, telling you he’s your “hoochie-coochie man”. It’s John Lee Hooker rumbling about “whiskey and wimmen” over a dirty, funky groove. AC/DC know this and Ballbreaker doesn’t just imitate this sprit; it emulates it. Ballbreaker is an EVIL album. Just listen to that breakdown in “Hail Caesar” when Brian Johnson starts singing really low and evil like (similar to the “ladder and snakes” breakdown in “Sin City”). More than any other AC/DC album, Ballbreaker is like their hard blues masterwork, Powerage. Producer Rick Rubin (a true fan) and the return of drummer Phil Rudd help bring that Powerage sound back. The songs aren’t as distinct as the ones on Powerage (or as any of the songs from their peak year 1977-1983 albums). But the power and atmosphere is there. Some people knock Ballbreaker for being too mid-tempo; again, they don’t get that this is primarily dark evil blues. It’s creeping, like. I don’t even think of Ballbreaker so much in terms of “songs”; it’s more like one giant song that keeps kicking your ass. And finally, the main criticism of Ballbreaker, there’s Brian Johnson’s voice. Oh man, people are so wrong on this. His voice is AMAZING on Ballbreaker! I don’t mean “amazing” as in “good”. Brian’s voice is like a shrapnel laden limb on this album. It’s hardly a voice; it’s more of a sound, like another instrument. And that’s just the way to go with it. Brian’s not trying to fool anyone on Ballbreaker. He’s not trying to “sing” per say. Most of those old blues guys didn’t either. They did what Brian does on this album: Growl and spit. He just sounds like a bad, grizzly-mouth mofo. You can smell the cigarettes and whiskey on his voice; you can hear the history of rocking out perhaps too hard on Flick of the Switch. You hear a MAN. Yes, a MAN. A primitive, rocking MAN that’s squinting and bending over. And he rather implode than not give 100% of his machismo. He totally embraces his ruined voice and uses it for all its ragged worth. Somehow it just makes the album sound meaner, more kick ass. This is the closest AC/DC ever came to sounding like an underground act. There’s no pretense here. There’s no nonsense. When you hear that primeval riff in “Ballbreaker” you can’t help thinking of Angus Young riding a Thunder Lizard. Yeah, a Thunder Lizard right over YOU! And Brian is showing a minister’s wife some sinful business in a back alley. Ballbreaker, the album, the song, is the dark monkey pit of Man. And yes, it’s a masterwork.
After a 4 year hiatus from relentless touring, and an amazing live album from ‘The Razor’s Edge’ tour in ‘91, AC/DC returned with a fury with ‘Ballbreaker.’ A clever album that delivers the goods on several different levels. Burned out and depressed from the ‘grunge’ music of the early 90’s, I faithfully bought this CD in hopes of returning to my upbeat heavy-metal arena rock memories. I wasn’t disappointed. This album rocks. It also got alot of airplay when it was first released. Yes, it’s a bit polished, but that’s ok. Produced by Rick Rubin, an experienced producer, this album was a moderate success. The DVD of their live concert in Spain, ‘No Bull’ is a must for any true AC/DC fan. This was recorded during the ‘Ballbreaker’ tour.A perfect companion piece to this one. I got to see them twice in CA, and I was 11th row the first time. (I had just finished a bottle of Yukon Jack before the show!) Angus and Brian ran right past us and I was in AC/DC heaven. ‘Hail Caesar’ is a highlight and so is ‘The Furor’. The boys take it easy and just play good blues/rock ‘n’ roll for this one. They don’t have anything to prove. They don’t have to churn out an album every year like other poser bands. The comic-book jacket-booklet is very cool. As with all of the re-issued/remasters, the true sound and fury of AC/DC is brought out and it sounds really f-ing great. This is a very good album on its own and was a powerful live performance. It was hard to follow this one, and their ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ album was also good and bluesy, but it missed a few beats. This album proves that AC/DC is still ‘Hard as a Rock’ after decades of rocking the living daylights out of its fans.
I’ve read reviews of this album where the reviewer said that is is not a good album or that all of their songs sound the same but you should take a listen to the songs. Sure they can’t be compared to Back in Black, Highway to Hell, Dirty Deeds or even the new album Stiff Upper Lip but this album has it’s many strong points. The album rocks, Angus Young who has to be one of the most underrated guitar players ever, shines on this album. True Brian Johnson’s voice is a little weak but what do expect after 20 years screaming over loud guitars. The best songs on this album are Hard as a Rock, Cover you in Oil, The Furor, Burnin’ Alive, Hail Caesar, Caught You with your Pants Down, Whiskey on the Rocks, and Ballbreaker. This is a great album that I would reccomed to anyone.