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High Voltage

When AC/DC’s first American album, High Voltage, was released on 28 September 1976, Rolling Stone was, to put it very mildly, less than impressed.  Their review on 16 December labeled the album and AC/DC themselves as an “all-time low” in hard rock and parentally advised – albeit between the lines – against being seen anywhere near the crude and rude bunch of Australians.  For anyone else it would have been a marketing death knell.  But for AC/DC it was perfect.  After all, they were proudly loud and objectionable.  That was the whole idea.  They were also about to jackknife from the top diving board with middle fingers collectively raised into a thirty year and strongly counting career as the other greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.

Malcolm Young and brother Angus, several years his junior, had been to all the classes that mattered, subjects which Angus remains to this day in correct uniform to attend.  Under the tutelage of elder brother and former Easybeat, George, the pair absorbed and distilled the very best of what their deliciously raucous craft had had to offer since 1955.  Essentially, anything with gut and soul.

When the tiny pair walked into Albert Studios in King Street in Sydney in November 1974 accompanied typically by an (un)healthy supply of cigarettes to record AC/DC’s first Australian album, High Voltage, they were anything but unsure in their approach.  The eight tracks each with the almost instinctual rather than rehearsed interplay of the Youngs were blasted onto tape between gigs in about ten days with George Young and fellow former Easybeat, Harry Vanda’s production.  It was released in Australia on 17 February 1975 by which time the band had settled into Melbourne, a move made after the album had been recorded.  It was there that the first classic lineup of the band came into being with the arrival firstly of drummer, Phil Rudd and then bass player, Mark Evans.

In July 1975, the re-energised outfit returned to Albert Studio 1 in Sydney to record their second Australian album, TNT, once again with Vanda and Young.  Released in late December, TNT was a quantum leap from High Voltage, a storming mix of hard-nosed, fat-lipped, black-eyed brooding aggression crucially coloured by the glorious street word play of Bon Scott and bottles of Stone’s Green Ginger Wine.  Plans to take the five man incendiary device to the world had advanced enormously earlier that month when they signed a worldwide deal with Atlantic Records out of London.

The first fruits of the Atlantic deal was this, High Voltage, a seamless compilation of the finest moments from the band’s Australian debut of the same name and TNT.  “Little Lover” and “She’s Got Balls,” a song Bon Scott wrote out of respect for his wife, were the sole representatives of High Voltage.  TNT was more strongly spotlighted with the tale of perils of the road of “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll),” their show opener for years to come, “Live Wire,” the unblinking statement of purpose, “High Voltage,” Bon at his toilet literary best on the hilarious blues of “The Jack” and the bad assed bravado of “TNT.”

As the deal was London based, the UK had the pleasure of being beaten out with High Voltage, first in April, 1976.  That was just three weeks after the band arrived for their first tour.  The first UK gig was arranged at the tiny Red Cow in Hammersmith on 23 April.  According to legend, the crowd of fifty people at the beginning of the first set had increased ten fold by the second thanks to word of mouth and the nearby public phones.  AC/DC’s English blitzkrieg – there can be no lesser term – was off and running.

Initially, a patronizing media, with the exception of Sounds, treated the band as a skull-crackingly loud novelty act and attempted to frame them as Australia’s answer to the emerging bristle of UK Punk.  All thanks to the band’s somewhat colourful sense of expression and fuck ‘em all attitude, the sheer volume and physical intensity of their shows, Angus’ habit of dropping his pants on stage and waterlogging his guitar with sweat and Bon being – well, Bon.

Their first UK tour kicked off on 11 May.  A sea of deafened and severely dehydrated bodies was piled up in their wake every night.  Their first headlining appearance at The Marquee came late in the tour on 4 June and was met with quiet pride.  The Marquee name, if not original location, had been a touchstone for every band that Malcolm and Angus held dear.  In the coming months the venue would also have AC/DC’s sweat drenched imprint on its history.

With the UK in desperate need of oxygen, the band stormed through their first dates in Europe from 16 July.  Then it was back to the UK and – in a sure sign of their growing standing – a residency at The Marquee every Monday night from 26 July until 23 August.  The pint sized Australians regularly made a mockery of the club’s official physical capacity of 700 as crowds lined up late in the afternoon in order to be one of the lucky thousand or so to squeeze in for their 9pm performance.  On 29 August the band’s star rose even further with an appearance at the legendary Reading Festival.  The taking – by force if necessary – of America seemed imminent, in fact you could almost smell it, with the release of High Voltage stateside on 28 September.  However, a planned visit that month was postponed until November and then cancelled altogether.  But everything incredibly loud and unbelievably exciting would come to those who wait.

– Murray Engleheart


1. IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)  (5:00)

2. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SINGER  (5:04)

3. THE JACK  (5:52)

4. LIVE WIRE  (5:50)

5. T.N.T.  (3:34)




9. HIGH VOLTAGE  (4:03)

All titles A. Young-M. Young-B. Scott
except “Can I Sit Next To You Girl” A. Young-M. Young.
All titles published by J. Albert & Son (USA) Inc. (ASCAP)

AC/DC are:
Angus Young, Lead Guitar
Malcolm Young, Guitar
Bon Scott, Lead Singer
Phil Rudd, Drums
Mark Evans, Bass

Produced by Vanda and Young for Albert Productions at Albert Studios, Sydney, Australia

Originally Released as Atco 36-142 on September 28, 1976

Digitally Remastered from the original master tapes by George Marino at Sterling Sound

Mastering Supervision: Mike Fraser and Al Quaglieri

Digital Assembly: UE Nastasi

Cover Photo: Michael Putland

Reissue Booklet Design: SMAY Vision

Photography: Dick Barnatt/Redferns: digipak inside left panel, pages 4-5, 12;
Philip Morris: pages 2, 8 (top left & right), 13 (insert photos), 14;
Photos courtesy of Albert Productions: 4 (left), 7, 14-15;
Michael Putland/Retna: pages 3, 9;
Colin Stead: pages 6, 8 (bottom left);
David Hill: page 11;
Erica Echenberg/Retna: page 13 (large photo)

Additional artifacts courtesy Albert Productions and Arnaud Durieux.

This CD takes advantage of ConnecteD technology and will work as a key to unlock exclusive bonus music, videos, photos and more at www.acdcrocks.com





© 1976, 2003 J. Albert & Son (Pty.) Ltd./ (P) 1976 J. Albert & Son (Pty.) Ltd./ Manufactured by Epic, A Division of Sony Music/ 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211/ “Epic” Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. Marca Registrada/ WARNING: All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

This compact disc was manufactured to meet critical quality standards.  If you believe the disc has a manufacturing defect, please call our Quality Management Department at 1-800-255-7514.  New Jersey residents should call 609-722-8224.

EPIC EK 80201

This package consists of previously released material.

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