An AC/DC Cover Album Worth Owning?

by delarue

A lot of people forget that when AC/DC first hit these shores back in the late 70s, they got filed in the punk bins. The difference was that Angus Young was faster than most of the punk lead guitarists. Otherwise, AC/DC songs are easy to play, as anyone who cut their teeth learning this stuff will tell you.

So is there any reason why you would want to own a cover album like the new double vinyl compilation Best of AC/DC [Redux], or spin it at Bandcamp? For one, the bands are killer, and the new versions are surprisingly original. In case anyone is wondering how you might possibly do anything interesting with an AC/DC cover, this is your answer. And while most of the singers on last year’s editions of the Redux cover compilations decided to channel their inner Ozzy, the guys in these bands aren’t trying to be Bon Scott, or Brian Johnson, or…there was another guy after him, right?

Witchskull kick off the album with the prototypical four-on-the-floor riff-rocker Sin City, peaking out with an appropriately unhinged Marcus De Pasquale guitar solo before a sudden bass break. Likewise, Supersuckers’ Overdose takes the over-the-top shredding to the next level of WTF.

Kal-El‘s remake of It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll) is crunchier and sludgier: the organ track is an unexpectedly cool touch, even if it isn’t as insanely ridiculous as Greta Gertler‘s ukulele version. Mos Generator’s Tony Reed teams with Fu Manchu’s Bob Balch to reinvent What’s Next to the Moon as spare, sinister 80s goth rock: who would have thought? Ghost Ship Ritual‘s epic, ornate version of The Razors Edge is just as radical, and arguably the best song on the record.

One of the innumerable funny things about AC/DC is that despite Angus Young’s distaste for Ron Wood’s guitar playing, a lot of early AC/DC is awfully close to Ron Wood-era Stones. And some of those songs are here. But Kryptograf‘s Bad Boy Boogie ends a lot closer to the band’s Highway to Hell peak. And Solace do Whole Lotta Rosie as bad-to-the-bone boogie, with a deliriously good guitar duel out.

Blue Heron play Walk All Over You as Melvins-style sludge. Riff Lord‘s For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) is arguably heavier and a lot more dense than the original. Red Mesa‘s If You Want Blood is the closest thing to the original here – if it ain’t broke, right?

Caustic Casanova‘s take of Dog Eat Dog is closer to X, less over-the-top than the way cult favorite female-fronted New York AC/DC cover band Big Balls would do it. Fueled by drummer Rubin Badillo’s spot-on rolls, Electric Frankenstein play High Voltage as the Dead Boys would have. Domkraft wind up the record with a characteristically bludgeoning take of Night Prowler, AC/DC’s shameless ripoff of the Stones’ Midnight Rambler. All this makes you feel like a kid again: drop the needle and pick up your axe.