Sunday, November 19, 2017

To Be Young, Gifted and Back In Black

The second of three consecutive November weekend memorials is here, and it's one you might not expect from me. That's OK, I live to escape the sheltered, mundane prison of expectation.
But only a day ago, the founder member and principal architect of the most beloved group ever to come out of Australia passed away after a years-long battle with dementia. He was 64 and he was not named Gibb.
No, this one concerns some other brothers from down under. Our honoree's oldest brother -- not the one with the knickers who is the most recognizable one -- essentially invented the entire concept of Australian Rock with one group and one song.
This 1960s group was called The Easybeats and the tune -- it's since become a standard -- was the workweek anthem Friday On My Mind, most famously covered by David Bowie on his Pin-Ups record, among other versions by other artists.
This caused the head Easybeat to become something of an impresario in Oz, shepherding many acts and bands under the George Young auspices. One of these was formed in 1973 by his two younger brothers, and it had a very controversial name.
It's unclear if when they named it as they did, whether or not they understood the connotation in American slang -- the term denotes bisexuality in the US -- but it worked in garnering them the attention every group just starting out needs.
It helped that their original singer was a snarling, hard-drinking madman that looked the part of Danger. Through the 1970s Bon Scott fronted the band and they experienced a steady incline in sales and profile in the Hard Rock world over the course of several LPs. During their early climb, our hero was the principal architect of their sound and strategy.
Unfortunately, just as they were breaking through to international superstardom, their singer died of lifestyle related complications, leaving them in the lurch just as they were about to seize the throne.
Luckily, as is often the case in crises such as this, they pinched the singer of another up and coming Aussie band -- Bon Scott himself had recommended the group, Geordie, to them before his exit to Rock Valhalla -- and picked up right where they left off, ascending even greater heights in the 1980s. In 1983 they had to kick our man of the hour out of the band for excessive drinking, but he returned years later to complete the 40-year cycle of their dominance of the music industry.
He had to retire again, several years ago when the dementia got him and he could no longer remember what song he was playing onstage. But the band he masterminded and guided through its ascent remains one of the most revered and beloved in any genre the world over.
And so we dedicate this post to Malcolm Young, who perhaps more than any other person is responsible for the band we know as AC/DC. He left us yesterday, but the group he helped create will never die.
To honor his passing, I have boosted two classic AC/DC bootlegs into the cloud, with one dating from the Bon Scott era and one from the Brian Johnson one. The first is sourced from actual Westwood One broadcast discs and the other is from as fine an off-air FM capture as you're likely to hear from this period.
AC/DC
broadcasts, 1976-81

I.
"Westwood One Superstars In Concert Series"
London, UK
1976-77-79

01 radio intro
02 Soul Stripper
03 High Voltage
04 Live Wire
05 It's a Long Way to the Top
06 Let There Be Rock
07 Problem Child
08 Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
09 Whole Lotta Rosie
10 Shot Down In Flames
11 Sin City
12 The Jack
13 Highway to Hell
14 Girls Got Rhythm
15 If You Want Blood (You've Got It)
16 radio outro

Tracks 02-05: Paris Theatre, 7.26.1976
Tracks 06-09: Golders Green Hippodrome, 10.27.1977
Tracks 10-15: Hammersmith Odeon, 11.2.1979

Total time: 1:14:02

Bon Scott – vocals
Angus Young – guitar
Malcolm Young – guitar & vocals
Cliff Williams – bass & vocals
Phil Rudd – drums

direct transfer from a WW1 pre-FM compilation CD made for broadcast
459 MB FLAC here

II.
Koseinenkin Hall
Tokyo, Japan
2.5.1981

01 Hells Bells
02 Shot Down In Flames
03 Sin City
04 Back In Black
05 Bad Boy Boogie
06 The Jack
07 Highway to Hell
08 High Voltage
09 Whole Lotta Rosie
10 Rocker

Total time: 58:50

Angus Young – guitar
Malcolm Young – guitar & vocals
Cliff Williams – bass & vocals
Phil Rudd – drums
Brian Johnson - vocals

sounds like a master off-air reel of the broadcasted portion of the concert
391 MB FLAC here
I shall return next weekend with another tribute to another recently interred musicker, but for the purposes of this day I would aver that for those about to rock, we salute you... and we definitely salute Malcolm Young -- more than anyone else the creator of AC/DC -- with a glorious chord of primal power.--J.
1.6.1953 - 11.18.2017