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AC/DC is Off the Edge
The Razor's Edge - AC/DC
Member Name: Jarisleif
The Razor's Edge - AC/DC
Date: 15/12/12, updated on 16/12/12 (12 review reads)
Advantages: Four great tracks
Disadvantages: Eight awful tracks
"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
Summary: Not the polished article, if I'm honest.