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A must read for both dedicated and casual AC/DC fans
on 6 February 2013
I was delighted to receive Mick Wall's excellent AC/DC biography as a Christmas gift from my wife - a gift she may now regret due to the minor obsession with the band it's inspired in me.
I came to be an AC/DC fan relatively late in life, starting with the two obvious albums, Highway to Hell and Back in Black. I collected the rest of the Bon Scott era catalogue over recent years, as well as the main post-Scott works, but I perhaps haven't paid the earlier albums the attention they deserve. I think the highest compliment I can pay to Mick Wall's book is that it has made me go back to those records a fresh ear.
The greater part of the book is dedicated to the Bon Scott years, with much time spent on the Young brothers' formative days, the successes and failures of their elder sibling George, and Scott's time spent moving between Australia and England in one band or another. There were many revelations within these pages, at least for this ill-informed reader, including the strictly enforced hierarchies in the band. I never knew, for example, that Malcolm Young was and is the boss of the operation.
It has to be said that Wall's depiction of AC/DC, and in particular their internal politics, is often less than flattering. He strips aside the good-bloke personas of the brothers Young and reveals them to be ruthless in their dealings with everyone from road managers to other band members. Malcolm Young's near-tyranny goes so far as to almost derail AC/DC's career on more than one occasion. If you're looking for a rose-tinted view of the band, you'll be disappointed. This is very much warts-and-all. Wall's portrayal often seems filtered through his own personal feelings, particularly on the circumstances of Bon Scott's death, but this is no bad thing. The subjective viewpoint gives the narrative a passion that rock biographies often lack.
I have two minor criticisms: first, the prose is occasionally a little lacking in finesse, sometimes pulling me out of the narrative to re-read the odd clumsy sentence and ensure I understood its meaning; second, the Brian Johnson years seem somewhat skimmed over, though this may be due to a combination of scant source material and the band's relative inactivity since the early 90s. But I'm being very picky there because this is a terrific book for fans of AC/DC, and anyone with more than a passing interest in classic rock.