AC/DC has continued to thunder on despite decades of fatalities and natural disasters. The rockers are releasing “Power Up,” their first album in six years, after 47 years and with the closest thing to their original lineup conceivable.
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It’s also the first since the death in 2017 of Malcolm Young, who co-founded the band with his younger brother, Angus, in Sydney, Australia in 1973. The song “Power Up” is dedicated to his older brother and is infused with his energy and composition. “We all sensed Malcolm’s presence; he was there. “We’re not spiritual people,” lead vocalist Brian Johnson, 73, told The Associated Press through Zoom from his home in Sarasota, Florida. “Malcolm was a strong figure in real life, and his death wouldn’t change that. I think you can tell on the record that he was everywhere.” All 12 songs were co-written by Malcolm and Angus Young, and were chosen by the younger Young from a wealth of unreleased material accumulated during the band’s long history. “Whenever Malcolm and I came to an album throughout the years, we usually walked in with a lot of A-grade songs,” Angus Young, 65, said via Zoom from his home in Sydney.
“We always had a stack of extra recordings left behind, all of which were excellent, great tracks.” The majority of the songs were written during a fertile creative time between albums from 2000 to 2008, and Angus Young chose those that evoked his big brother the most. Young explained, “I concentrated on the ones I knew were Mal’s favourites.” “It’s an appropriate project for him. What better method to express his simplicity and directness than via music?” I reasoned. “Power Up,” their 17th studio album, is brimming with the same booming chords and schoolyard sneers that made them heroes with albums like “Highway to Hell” and “Back in Black.” Its debut single and video, the blues-inflected “Shot in the Dark,” was released in October. The latter was also dedicated to an important bandmate who had recently passed away, original singer Bon Scott, who died in 1980. “There’s a parallel between Bon’s and Mal’s tragedies,” Angus Young observed.
Stevie Young, Malcolm Young’s nephew, stepped in for him on 2014’s “Rock or Bust” and again on “Power Up,” despite the fact that he’s hardly the new kid at 63. “Stevie has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember. From his home in North Carolina, bassist Cliff Williams stated through Zoom, “He’s been around us for decades.” “There was no way to fit him into anything,” says the narrator. After a difficult tour in 2016, which Johnson was unable to complete due to worsening hearing loss, it appeared like the classic version of the band would never perform together again. He’s now been fitted with cutting-edge hearing aids and has been eager to return to the stage, especially after seeing how well rehearsing with the band at full volume went. Johnson stated, “It was just a lot of fun to be around the boys, and I felt like I was equipped to actually go out and do something.” “My ammo belt was bursting at the seams.” I was all set to leave.” The album was recorded in 2018 and early 2019, and the jam sessions were held in anticipation of its release in early 2020.
“We rehearsed a lot because we hoped to be able to do some gigs,” Young explained. “We did it for a few of weeks, and then the world started to shut down a few days later.” The album was shelved when the coronavirus reached pandemic levels, and the band went black, stranded across continents with their family and friends. The band and Columbia Records decided to release it in November after nearly a year. “We’re doing a lot of promotional stuff to let people know that AC/DC has a new album,” he says “Young remarked. “Hopefully, it will brighten your day.”
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