Sunday, August 23, 2009

AC/DC Maximum Rock & Roll

When it comes to biographies on the great Australian rock band, AC/DC, there isn’t much available that’s worth reading. Your cousin Ryo searched bookstores and scoured the internet for a long time, but was never able to find anything that looked substantial. Then, as an anniversary gift from my wife (yeall. This is the definitive retelling of the complete history of the band and their extended family. There h, she rocks), I got a copy of AC/DC Maximum Rock & Roll by Murray Engleheart and Arnaud Durieux. I consumed the mammoth 488 page monster in a matter of days.

One of the greatest, most in-depth, detailed, and well written works on the history of the hard rock band known as AC/DC is Maximum Rock & Rois no book that tells more or gives more. Maximum Rock & Roll is a well written, brilliant piece that will have you hooked from page one.

Like most historical band biographies, this book starts from the beginning, giving an in depth look at Angus and Malcom Young’s childhood. Growing up in a rather large family (8 Young children in all), music was a central theme throughout. Their older brother George played in the band The Easybeats, who had a big hit with Friday On My Mind.

Angus worshipped his older brother Malcom, who was forming garage bands of his own. Angus lived, breathed, and slept his guitar. He was constantly learning and practicing to be the best in the world. It was an achievement that he would eventually reach.

Like most things AC/DC, this is a tale of two eras. The first half of the book covers the lives of the Young brothers and the early years of AC/DC with Dave Evans as their first lead singer. Details are given over the falling out between Dave and the band, and this segues right into Bon Scott taking over as lead vocalist.

Angus and Malcom loved Bon like another brother. He was well respected, a great lyricist, an excellent singer, and a very giving human being. His only major downfall was his love of the booze, which is well documented throughout the first half of the book. The era of Bon ends with his unfortunate, much too early demise, right after AC/DC had scorched to the top of the charts in several countries with the amazing, Highway To Hell. At this point, AC/DC thought it was the end. However, what they didn’t realize is that it was just the beginning.

The second half of the book takes over with the Brian Johnson led era of AC/DC. Very intricate details are given to his joining the band, writing and recording Back In Black, and the subsequent tour. Much to my dismay, however, the book tailspins after the coverage of the Back In Black tour. While Brian Johnson has been the lead singer of AC/DC for more 23 years (as of the writing of this book) he has less coverage than Bon Scott did.

Perhaps there was less information to go on, less interviews and research material available after the Back In Black tour, but I’m not so sure. I think part of the reason the authors chose to dedicate more pages to Bon is due to the fact that he is the much more interesting character. While we all love Brian Johnson, AC/DC has become less dramatic with him as the front man. That’s not to say the band has become less hard rock (the opposite of that is true), it’s just that they’re not making flashy headlines the way they used to.

Overall, Maximum Rock and Roll is a must read for any hard rock fan, guitar fan, and of course for any AC/DC fan. Well written, exceptionally researched, and with a lot of TLC pushed into the mix, Maximum Rock and Roll is an excellent book. For this book, Engleheart and Durieux are up there with Stephen Davis in their ability to really capture the essence of their subject matter. With most pages, I felt like I was on stage with the band, in the studio with the band, or at the bar with them. I felt the pain of the passing of Bon Scott, and I felt the jubilation when they took over the world as one of the greatest hard rock bands in existence.

Look no further, AC/DC fans, if you haven’t read AC/DC Maximum Rock & Roll, go out and get it. If you have read it, read it again. It’s that good and that worthy of your time.

Ryo’s Rating: A-


Christine said...

This ACDC book might be the first Christmas present I buy for this year as I have an ACDC fan in the house.

Ryo Vie said...

Your ACDC fan is the one that got ME into the band. He gave me my first three AC/DC albums (Back in Black, For Those About To Rocck, and Flick of the Switch) on glorious vinyl. Yeah, he deserves this book.