Ah, how far to go here? Well, I’m older now, and I’m as ‘zen’ on this subject as any other. Sooo…
Powerage is the best rock ‘n roll of album of all time. Not the most important or most influential; not with the widest variety nor highest reach(although this IS AC/DC’s widest & highest album); not the most seductive or inspiring; but the best.
Sgt Pepper, Exile On Main Street, and Physical Grafitti are all timeless masterpieces too, but whatever Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard & Jerry Lee Lewis were aiming at all those years ago, Powerage hit dead center.
An amazingly raw, blistering sound, but at the same time incredibly tight grooves. Hard rock you can headbang AND dance to, indeed. Like someone once said, AC/DC does what no one else can do, better than anyone else.
This was the first album w/Cliff Williams and he kicked the band up to a whole new level. Fantastic production by Vanda/Young, the last one they did before Mutt Lange took over. The remastering is indescribably brilliant, showcasing the equally brilliant interplay between Angus & Malcolm. The lead & rhythm guitars are distinct, loud, and powerful. No way you’d believe this album was released in 1978 if you didn’t already know.
And what rhythms and leads they are. Nine incredible riffs, instantly memorable. Easy to play(the riffs NOT the solos, of course), perhaps, but almost impossible to write. And the seven solos are among Angus’ best, especially on Gone Shootin’. Fast solos, medium solos, slow solos, and on Damnation & Bullet no solo at all.
There is simply not a wasted or extraneous second here. Yngwie, Satriani, Vai, and all the rest of the shredders never wrote anything close to Sin City or Riff Raff. This album is the one that clearly places Angus alongside Hendrix, Page, & Gibbons.
Bon’s best lyrics, devastating beats from Cliff & Phil. Highway To Hell’s production sounds thin & poppy(despite the great songs), and Back In Black’s writing seems somewhat uninspired and derivative in comparison. Imagine the best qualities of Overdose, Touch Too Much, and Shoot To Thrill wrapped together and you have Powerage.
Back In Black has a great sound and all the legendary anthems, no question, but this is the real apex of the “cooler than a body on ice, hotter than the rolling dice, wilder than a drunken fight” ideal. And all topped off by Bon giving you a wink/nudge and offering you another beer after each track.
I have friends that aren’t into heavy music at all, but I always tell them that like Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue is to jazz, Powerage is the hard rock album for people that don’t like hard rock.
Buy this album and you WILL burn tonight.