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AC/DC High Voltage Rock N Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History by Phil Sutcliffe

Label: Voyageur Press
Format: Book
Released: 2010
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 7/ 10

Roughly the size of an old vinyl LP and more than 200 pages, this colorful hard backed tome is filled with plenty of photos (live, candid and promo) and memorabilia, leading right up to the Iron Man 2 soundtrack, from early 2010. Heavy on artifacts, light on observations. Like most before him, the scribe compiles past interviews for much of the text (usually just a one or two line quip), yet he actually spoke to the band early on, referencing his own mid-70s reports for UK mag Sounds. Wisely, Sutcliffe also selected vintage international mags from Germany, the US and Australia, as well as networked with current authors/photographers (BW&BK's Popoff included), giving the story the global scope it warrants. Each writer offers lengthy, chapter concluding review(s) of the output during said period. Inside the front/back covers are numerous quotes/testimonials: the likes of Joe Perry, Jimmy Page and Steve Vai aren't surprising, but members of Mudvayne, Collective Soul and Linkin Park? Cute little dial on the cover allows Angus Young to spin around the stage on his back, sort of like a pop-up book for grown-ups! The initial two chapters (42 pages) cover all the formative history, not just the Young brothers, but various machinations and the recording of their initial three (Aussie-only) albums. Sadly, treated only in broad strokes, this period is over way too quickly.


Overall, the thrust tends to be on the recorded material, with chronology jumping years between releases. What happened in that intervening time? What about road stories, family matters, births, hobbies, deaths (the Youngs' father's passing is mentioned in one "excuse me" matter of fact line, almost a decade after the fact)! Perhaps I ask for too much. It does handle Malcolm Young's alcoholism and drummer Phil Rudd's mental breakdown, but aside from being a teetotaler, founding guitarist Angus Young remains an enigmatic caricature of his onstage persona. After 40 years, there's no insights into this guy? He's either comely shallow (which I doubt) or extremely guarded about his personal life.

Opportunity lost, in my book.

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