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"The Razors Edge" is the 11th studio album by Australian hard rockers, AC/DC. It was released in 1990 on Atco Records and produced by Bruce Fairbairn. The line-up for the album was Brian Johnson (vocals), Angus Young (guitar), Malcolm Young (guitar), Cliff Williams (bass) and Chris Slade (drums).
This is the only AC/DC studio album to feature Chris Slade on the drums but he has played on the iconic "Live" album and the "Live at Donington" DVD. Some say he wasn't given enough time to gel with the band, but you can't argue with the Young brothers for reinstating Phil Rudd, who many would argue is the missing piece in the jigsaw. Needless to say, Slade is a competent drummer and performed like a true professional on this album. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The album kicks off in spectacular style with "Thunderstruck". Put simply, this is Angus Young's finest work on a guitar and for the first half of the song he's playing the same solo riff over and over which is truly magical. I have been fortunate enough to see AC/DC live and even more fortunate to have seen this song played live. Bon Scott has always been the voice of the band for me, but this is where Brian Johnson had a chance to shine, and he doesn't disappoint.
"Fire Your Guns" is a simple AC/DC song that packs a punch. The lyrics are basic and don't really amount to much but the harmony around those lyrics make the song better than it actually is. It's a rocking number which is, once again, about sex. To 'fire your guns' means... oh, you get the picture! I love the chorus on this track and the rhythm guitar sounds really good with the drum beat alongside it.
"Moneytalks" is a song that has the vocal harmony play along with the riff and everything sounds the same. That's not saying I don't like the song because I do, it's just saying that it's a little too simplistic for my liking and not much thought went into it. It's a song about a man who is rich and uses his wealth to get what he wants out of women. He knows they're gold diggers but he doesn't care as long as they do as he pleases.
"The Razors Edge" is another track that makes you wonder if Angus eats the whole box of Shredded Wheat, never mind three, because that opening solo is excellent and the lead riff is something else. But the beauty of this song is Malcolm's rhythm that sets the beat and Brian Johnson's vocals fit around that backing riff perfectly. This is a song about war, being on the battlefield and scared for your life.
"Mistress for Christmas" is a song I tend to stay away from. Not because it's a bad song - because it isn't - but because I'm what most consider as a Scrooge. Yes, it's got those classic AC/DC saucy lyrics, and yes, they're fun and sexy, but I can't get away from the cheesiness and clichéd puns about the Christmas season. The worst thing about the song is, it might be a good one, but it's not something I'm ever going to know because of what it's about. Many hard rock, metal and punk bands have done records specifically for the season, and I feel the same way about those.
"Rock Your Heart Out" is a straight-forward song, with the title telling you exactly what you should be doing when you listen to AC/DC. It's saying that you should listen to music with a passion and keep on rockin' all day and all night, just as the music wants to make you do. For me, it's not a brilliant song, and doesn't make me want to rock my heart out. You know it's AC/DC, but it's very generic and fails to grab my attention as much as some tracks on the album. I really don't like the harmony on the chorus or the backing vocals, and I'm afraid that the main riff has been done to death by the band in the past.
"Are You Ready" is one of those vastly underrated AC/DC songs. I absolutely love the intro to it which is played by Angus, who is then joined by Malcolm on the main riff. The pre-chorus goes right back to the opening riff with some great singing by Brian. I often complain that Brian Johnson isn't the best vocalist in the world but he really doesn't need to be when he's backed by four other very impressive musicians, and this song only highlights the fact that he can actually sing a bit, and the backing vocals also sound good.
"Got You by the Balls" begins with a standard riff, or that's what I think at first until I listen to it played a few more times, and then it becomes interesting as I can't help but nod my head along to its beat. The chorus isn't memorable, though, and is the title of the track which is sung five times. I do like the lyrics which deal with a high class mistress in a brothel who will do anything you please, just as long as you have the money for it. It's a good song, but it's far from being a great one, and I don't think the band will have played it live many times, if any.
"Shot of Love" is another song which dredges up another classic AC/DC riff, and this time it's the main riff to "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)". I wouldn't say it's exact, but it's practically the same, and that's not good. There's nothing on this song which makes me happy or want to tap my foot, bang my head, or whatever, but that's probably because I've heard it all before. The verses are boring and the chorus is just plain awful, which really is a shame because the album needed a shot in the arm and it just didn't get it from this record.
"Let's Make It" actually sounds like another song on this album when it starts out, and that is "Moneytalks". When I first heard the track, I actually thought the pressing was a mistake and had the latter song on twice, until it kicked in. That's not a precursor for a good song, however, because it's another of those 'heard it all before' tracks which annoys me from a band of this calibre. This is not something they would have gotten away with had Bon Scott been alive. Or, come to think of it, they may have done, and they would have done it without the great man, because he would never have gone along with it.
"Goodbye and Good Riddance to Bad Luck" starts out pretty good, and I can finally hear a little bass in the intro. Unfortunately that's where the good stuff ends, because there's nothing in the song which I can say that I enjoy. It's a track which is heavily reliant on Johnson's vocals in the verses, and I barely notice the guitars. Even the bridge with a pretty good Angus solo can't save this one from bombing, and after it's over we're back to the same old rubbish. Did I just say rubbish when talking about AC/DC? I'm actually shocked that I did, but there you go.
The album comes to a close with "If You Dare", and by this time I'm just hoping that the next 3 minutes and 8 seconds go by quickly, because I'm bored of the album as a whole. In fact, I've forgotten about the good songs and I'm seething at the bad! The track has some good vocals from Brian Johnson and a nice little blues guitar riff but it could be the greatest song in the world for all I care, and I'd still not like it because of what I've just heard here. If anything, it just about pulls the album's head out of the water, but barely.
In summary, this is probably the last of the best of AC/DC as we know them. In my opinion, subsequent albums, "Ballbreaker", "Stiff Upper Lip" and "Black Ice", weren't in the same mould and seemed to lose their way, drawing on previous riffs that have been done to death. There are some excellent songs on this album but there are some stinkers as well, and that's why I'm giving it a lower rating than I usually would. If it wasn't for staple live favourites like "Thunderstruck", "Fire Your Guns" and "Are You Ready", this may well have bombed, too.
2. Fire Your Guns
4. The Razors Edge
5. Mistress For Christmas
6. Rock Your Heart Out
7. Are You Ready
8. Got You by the Balls
9. Shot of Love
10. Let's Make It
11. Goodbye & Good Riddance to Bad Luck
12. If You Dare
My rating: 5/10
Being a fan of AC/DC I have all their albums in my collection and whilst maybe 'Back In Black' seems to be the most reviewed and talked about AC/DC album, in my opinion, their other studio albums are well worth a listen too.
Released in 1990, The Razor's Edge was the only AC/DC album to feature drummer Chris Slade, following the departure of original drummer Phil Rudd.
Although Slade does a great job on this album, the band felt that something was missing from their sound. This led to Rudd rejoining the band after getting together to play with them on The Razor's Edge Tour. Personally speaking, I do prefer Phil Rudd but I cannot really find fault at all with Chris Slade playing on this album. Any difference to their sound is not really noticeable in my opinion, but maybe this would be more apparent when hearing them live.
AC/DC had sadly more or less been written off by many as shadows of their former selves at the beginning of the '90s. It was thought that the band's best years were behind them and the younger generation of bands would take their place. Then came 'The Razor's Edge', and once more the band showed they were not ready to give up their mantle just yet, by coming up with another memorable collection of songs featuring those brilliant riffs and pounding rhythms the band are famous for.
The tracks :-
2. Fire Your Guns
4. Razor's Edge
5. Mistress For Christmas
6. Rock Your Heart Out
7. Are You Ready
8. Got You By The Balls
9. Shot Of Love
10. Let's Make It
11. Goodbye And Good Riddance To Bad Luck
12. If You Dare
Two of my favourite all time AC/DC tracks are on this album. The sublime 'Thunderstruck' and catchy 'Money Talks'.
Thunderstruck begins with guitarist Angus Young's famous one handed lick and a chant of 'Thunder' which steadily grows louder and louder, along with the drums, until the rhythm section kicks in courtesy of Malcolm Young and Cliff Williams, which ultimately sees the crowd go crazy when performed live.
Thunderstruck was set to become an instant classic and indeed it has never left the set lists since, and it's easy to see why.
'Money Talks' I guarantee will have you singing along, as great riffs combine with Brian Johnson's vocal as he asks you to "Come on, come on, love me for the money". As memorable as their big hit from 'Back In Black' - 'You Shook Me All Night Long', it is a solid rock anthem, catchy, yet also throws up a surprise in the form of a blues-like solo from Angus.
'Fire Your Guns' is another stand-out with an amazing guitar solo, which is trademark Angus. The same goes with title track 'The Razor's Edge'.
All tracks were written by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young and the album was produced by Brian Fairburn, who produced Aerosmith's albums, some of which were criticised for being too commercial. I don't think that can be said of this album, although it did achieve great success, reaching the top 5 of the UK album charts.
'Let's Make It' and 'Rock Your Heart Out' keep things ticking along nicely, whilst 'Are You Ready?' is an exaltation of nocturnal hell raising, which gives us another Thunderstruck-esque number which builds from a quiet start.
AC/DC never take themselves too seriously. Their tongue in cheek lyrics at times never make anyone feel threatened. It's all good fun, just like a good rock & roll band should be (who can take a song entitled 'Mistress For Christmas' seriously for example?) Whilst their lyrics were probably stronger in the era of the late Bon Scott, I am one of those who actually prefer Brian Johnson at the helm. I am quite possibly in the minority with that comment as many die-hard fans hark back to the days of Bon, I just feel their overall sound has gone from strength to strength since their comeback 'Back In Black' album following the death of Bon Scott. The Young brothers have done an ok job in the lyrics department in my opinion and Brian Johnson has done a brilliant job filling the gap left by Bon.
This distinctly polished performance by the band on this album, is still a cut above other rock bands who were around in the Nineties and they will always be known as the band who bring 'High Voltage Rock & Roll' to their fans with every album released.
My lifetime ambition was reached last year when I was lucky enough to get tickets to see AC/DC play Hampden Park in Glasgow. It was an amazing night I will never forget and 'Thunderstruck' was one of the performances which stood out for me.
However, I will end by saying you do not need to see the band perform live to appreciate their sound and this album, in all aspects, backs up that statement perfectly.
High Voltage Rock & Roll!
From the sun kissed beaches of Oz, the Scottish bums turned surfer dudes returned to London to explode into our brains with the sweaty smell of good old rock and roll. From one loud album after another, AC/DC has become, undoubtedly, the Gods of British rock.
Yet, after the death of wild vocalist Bon Scott in February 1980, there we many of us who thought that the end was nigh for the masters of rock. Acquiring the forty a day tones of Brain Johnson, the band found, if you pardon the pun, a new voice. With mop of fuzzy hair sprouting from under a flat cap, AC/DC found the image that they had, all this time represented - long haul truckers.
From the days of Bon Scot, they had developed a style which when fans were drawn in, they became fans for life, although by the time the mid Eighties rolled around, it was the sons and daughters of the original followers who found the school boy stage outfit fitted like a glove. For anyone who now sits at a desk, worrying about being in their mid thirties (author included) the better years of this band started with their number one album soon after Scots death, the metal mournful, Back In Black, an album that just about got off the ground and out of the studio door. The albums got tighter, stronger and dare I say it, more commercial, yet top fives continued to stack up for one album after another.
Perhaps their flying list of greatness, dipped into a downward spiral towards the end of the Eighties decade. Since the madness of Flick Of The Switch, (1983), the band saw a surprising drop to number 11 for the Maximum Overdrive soundtrack, Who Made Who, notably one of their best albums post Scot, yet failed the top ten in May 1986. This 1990 album, The Razors Edge, heralded the mark of a difficult time for the band who could only rely heavily on their faithful fan base. Music had changed dramatically over the Eighties and into the Nineties and there seemed no pigeon hole for an aging pure rock band whose sound never swayed from middle aged reassurance.
Still riding high on commercialism, it appeared that AC/DC had settled comfortably into the pop charts and felt it the best and safest way to make their living. The public enjoyed the diversity of this sturdy band sitting amongst the dance ditties and swoonfull love operas floating around the charts at this time. Since the fans could not distinguish one album from another, it didnt make any difference to the band who was behind it all. Who cared that Blow Up Your Video,(1988) sounded identical to The Razors Edge? It meant nothing to the head banging, old and new rockers revelling in the idea of tour tee shirts and dirty trainers. After all, all the best bands stand firm along side a style forever more, and it is this policy that fans adore the most.
So, what can we say about The Razors Edge, that hasnt already been said before? This distinctly polished performance by band and producer, still is a cut above the messiness of rock bands knocking around in the Nineties. AC/DC were always tuneful, non offensive and never once annoyed certain religious sects or nationalities. No one in their right mind is going to feel threatened by the racy Rock Your Heart Out, or the equally fuelled dragster feel to Shot Of Love. It is with these good old fashioned rock song subjects that they never once felt the need to put anyone down and always expressed their desires for womankind (the latter probably goes without saying,) so to an avid AC/DC follower like myself, this album was just as much welcomed into my record collection as all the others were. No hidden surprises, no gimmicks, no special guest stars to rely on pumping up a flat album, no, none of that. Just a tremendous opening of drums, chanting and a quick riff loop to keep us excited from Thunderstruck.
So long as we can still smile a reflective smile when we notice a track on the album that refers to either balls or guns then we can breathe a sigh of relief and knowing that what we have in our little mitts, is another stunningly loud album. We can almost hear it before weve even got the wrapper off.
The packaging of this thunder filled album is still, what you would expect from a true rock album. It is, as usual, not short of references to strong headed women and ammunition that doesnt work. Ever known as the band that delivers high voltage hard rock, they still pack out stadium after stadium to the point that from the stage, all Johnson can see visible is a sea of shaking hair.
The photographs in the note book have been carefully selected to show all the ugliest faces a rock band can pull. As pictures that the rest of mankind would happily take back to Boots, here they are, proudly on show in this album, you can almost smell from here. A little anecdote flicks casually through the pages of this one dimensional rock tour, that gives us enough time to reflect upon spinal injuries from Donnington and Knebworth (for those of us who were there and who vaguely remember.)
In every aspect, this album doesnt fail us. The visual impact is there when the band in the flesh are not. The sounds of a band, heavily giving everything that their wrinkles can in a studio that will only let them bounce around so much, is here to entertain and delight.
We are not usually impressed by how much a band works on an album, or at least, its an aspect that passes us clean by, yet, after The Razors Edge, I will guarantee you, that you too, will feel just as knackered at the end of it, as they were from recording it.
AC/DC, again, we still salute you.
Fire Your Guns
The Razors edge
Mistress For Christmas
Rock Your Heart Out
Are Your Ready?
Got You By The Balls
Shot Of Love
Lets Make It
Goodbye And Good Riddance To Bad Luck
If You Dare.
AC/DC will always be;
Angus Young - lead guitar
Malcolm young - rhythm guitar
Brian Johnson - vocals
Cliff Williams - bass guitar
Chris Slade - drums
All songs written by the Young brothers
HMV - £9
Epic records 1990
Ciao and dooyoo and outer space
This is one of the greatest AC/DC albums around, all the tracks are head banging good rock, pure rock! You will notice that the guitarist just loves his school boy uniform, it's part of the gig! The greatest song of all 'Thunderstruck', is brilliant, but be warned your neck will feel it the next day. The vocals are rough, when I say rough I mean that his voice comes across not a screechy yell but more a rough yell - but also in tune with the stomping sounds of the guitar. Admittedly some of the songs can get a bit screechy - but it is AC/DC and it is a pure rock band! One song that will make you laugh is their Big Balls song, as he goes on singing 'I've got big balls, you've got big balls...' Yes.. well... not for the faint hearted!
The more others change, the more, it seems, AC/DC stay the same. This refusal to budge an inch over something like 15 years, a dozen albums and changes in personnel has, if anything, earned them a special place of affection in the headbanger's heart. There's never much room for light or shade when playing the AC/DC way; just a beat slapped down like part payment on a pint, Angus Young grinding through the gears. Arguably, nobody else could get away with parading their ready-made fetishes in public quite like this, or indeed would want to. But Fire Young Guns, Shot Of Love, Mistress For Christmas and, titter ye not, Got You By The Balls are all coolly sleazy stuff and shoved home by some of the filthiest riffs likely to be heard all year. More tea, vicar?
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Fire Your Guns
4 Razor's Edge
5 Mistress For Christmas
6 Rock Your Heart Out
7 Are You Ready
8 Got You By The Balls
9 Shot Of Love
10 Let's Make It
11 Goodbye And Good Riddance To Bad Luck
12 If You Dare