AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Re-Done
On the eve of the release of their newly remastered catalog, AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young revisit the classic albums that made them guitar giants.
At just over five feet both AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm Young are without a doubt two of the shortest guitarists in rock and roll history. How ironic, then, that the diminutive brothers have managed to construct some of the most gargantuan, towering riffs ever put down on tape.
Anyone who cares to argue that fact is politely invited to pop in a copy of the band’s 1980 masterpiece, Back in Black, and prepare to be summarily crushed by the title track’s mammoth three-chord whomp. And there’s plenty more where that came from. Over the last quarter century AC/DC have unleashed a slew of hard rock anthems—“Highway to Hell,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Thunderstruck”—that are firmly imbedded into the skulls of rock and rollers the world over. Now fans will have the chance to hear those earth-shattering guitars and unshakeable grooves as they’ve never heard them before, as Epic Records, which recently signed the band to a multi-album deal, has taken it upon themselves to overhaul AC/DC’s back catalog.
So while Angus, Malcolm and the rest of the boys—singer Brian Johnson, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd—get to work on their new studio effort (their final recording for Elektra), Epic is beginning its 16-album reissue campaign, which spans from High Voltage, the band’s 1976 American debut with singer Bon Scott, through 1992’s doubledisc Live set. The first batch of releases, which includes among others the seminal titles Back in Black and Highway to Hell, are currently on store shelves, with the rest to follow in the next few months. All have been remastered from the original source tapes and repackaged in deluxe Digipaks with restored artwork and rare photos. What’s more, each album will include a web site link where users can obtain rare and unreleased audio and video tracks from that particular era of the band’s history.
That renowned history is also being celebrated in quite a different way, with AC/DC’s 2003 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And while fans shouldn’t hold their breath in the hopes of seeing the band take part in the Hall’s time-honored all-star jam session at the end of this year’s ceremony (“It looks like a bit of a joke when they all get up there and play over one another,” says Malcolm with a laugh. “We like to call it a catfight”), the Young brothers were more than happy to spend an Australian morning discussing the past, present and future of AC/DC.
GUITAR WORLD Congratulations on your Hall of Fame induction…
MALCOLM YOUNG Abduction, more like it!
GW Is it a big honor for you guys?
ANGUS YOUNG I don’t think we’ve ever been a band that’s “Hollywood hungry” or anything like that, where we pop up for every awards ceremony or industry show. The main thing for us has always been to acknowledge the fans that support us by buying the records and coming to the gigs.
GW Will you guys be wearing tuxedos?
ANGUS I haven’t even thought about it—I’ve never gone to something like this. What are you supposed to wear to these things? GW Most people don’t show up in schoolboy outfits.
ANGUS Well then, maybe I’ll go in my birthday suit!
GW Unlike the majority of the artists who are inducted into the Hall, AC/DC are still recording new music. How’s work on the new album coming along?
ANGUS It’s still in the very early stages, but we’re writing away. There’s no strict timetable or release date, because with us it’s always been a case of, when we feel that we have enough good material we say, “Okay, let’s unleash it on the public.” It’s all about quality control, you know? [laughs]
MALCOLM Angus and I have yet to get together and go over our stuff, but we both have a lot of music. Hopefully maybe around June we’ll start recording.