AC/DC Powerage: My First Listen in 1978

AC/DC Powerage: My First Listen in 1978 and Why It’s Still the Best AC/DC Album for me

As part of my exploration of the decades that defined rock music, I’m revisiting the 1970s. With AC/DC currently on tour, it seemed like the perfect time to pull Powerage off the shelf and reflect on what this album means to me.

Powerage is my favorite AC/DC album. I’ve already shared my story about Let There Be Rock, and how it led to an unforgettable air guitar session on a car roof. You can find that story on my channel. Shortly after I discovered Let There Be Rock, Powerage appeared on the release schedules, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I bought Powerage from Virgin in Birmingham for £2.25 and was immediately captivated by the song titles: “Gimme a Bullet,” “Down Payment Blues,” “Gone Shootin’,” “Riff Raff,” “Sin City,” “Up to My Neck in You,” “What’s Next to the Moon,” “Cold Hearted Man,” and “Kicked in the Teeth.” Without even listening, I knew it was going to be raw, wild, and exciting.

I remember the day I got home with the album. I was going out that night (as you did in the ’70s) but couldn’t resist a quick listen before heading to the pub. I put the vinyl on, and the first track, “Gimme a Bullet,” played. It didn’t have a traditional guitar solo, but it had a great groove and rock attitude. It felt like a rebellious anthem, perfect for shrugging off the day’s frustrations.

“Down Payment Blues” quickly became a favorite. Its lyrics about financial struggles resonated with me, and Angus Young’s guitar solo was powerful and emotional. His style back then included holding the root note at the beginning of solos, adding a sense of anticipation and power.

“Gone Shootin'” might not be my fave trac, but it holds a special place in my heart, It’s about the emotional attachment and the memories associated with it. “Riff Raff” features an offbeat riff that’s cleverly confusing to tap your foot to, and “Sin City” brings back the riff-heavy style reminiscent of Let There Be Rock. This track, with its vivid imagery, was a favorite for nights out in town.

The sequencing of the tracks on the original vinyl versus the CD version always felt peculiar to me. The CD opens with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation,” a track absent from the vinyl version. I’ve always preferred the original track order, as it’s what I grew up with.

The album is a mix of light and shade, with tracks like “What’s Next to the Moon” and “Cold Hearted Man” adding variety. “Kicked in the Teeth,” the final track, starts with Bon Scott’s raw vocals and Angus’s gritty guitar, capturing the unpolished, rebellious spirit of early AC/DC.

Released in 1978, Powerage didn’t immediately achieve the same commercial success as some of AC/DC’s later albums. It peaked at #133 on the Billboard 200 in the US, but over time, it has become a fan favorite and a critical success, often cited for its raw energy and uncompromising rock sound.

For me, Powerage represents AC/DC at their best. It’s an album that fits any mood and never gets old. Whether you’re new to AC/DC or a long-time fan, this album is a must-listen. Bon Scott’s vocals, Angus Young’s guitar work, and the band’s overall chemistry make it a standout in their discography.

It’s inspiring to see Angus still performing and keeping the spirit of rock alive. As he continues to tour, it’s a reminder that rock music is timeless and ever-relevant. Music truly is the healer and the doctor.

Let me know your thoughts on Powerage and share your favorite tracks and memories.

Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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