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A Look at Powerage – AC/DC’s Most Underrated Album

With a vast catalogue of 17 studio albums, AC/DC’s Powerage is a record that goes largely unnoticed. It certainly doesn’t get the accolades of Highway To Hell or Back in Black, but when you look at the Aussie rockers’ body of work, Powerage stands out in a big way.

In fact Powerage, released in 1978, is the record that made people, including AC/DC’s record label, Atlantic, stand up and really pay attention to the grubby misfits. Because after Poweragegained the band more attention and sales in the U.S., Atlantic executives got AC/DC to bring in uber producer Mutt Lange for the follow-up, and we all know how good Highway To Hell is, thanks in large part to Lange’s work in the studio.

For Powerage, which was hot on the heels of 1977’s Let There Be Rock, the band used the same producers, Harry Vanda and George Young, older brother to Angus and Malcolm Young.

But, unlike its predecessor, which is a phenomenal, raw record, Powerage brings an entirely different feel to it – a warmer sound thanks to a better mix. The band spent three months in the studio (one more than they did for Let There Be Rock) recording and mixing, and the extra time really paid off.

Powerage was the first AC/DC album featuring bassist Cliff Williams, who replaced Mark Evans after he was fired in May, 1977. However, Evans has said publicly some of his bass playing is on the album.

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AC/DC had vibe in studio on Powerage

According to Williams, a big reason why the album is so good is the vibe the band had recording it, which was pretty much live in studio.

“The guys had already been in the studio for a while and we went in to do what turned out to be the Powerage album. Great work environment. Albert Studios there in Sydney was a great little rock and roll room…Great producers,” said Williams in a Bass Frontiersinterview. “Obviously a lot of chemistry there being brothers. Just a real fiery, energetic work environment. It was really a tremendous experience.”

The album opener, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation” shows the band flexing their muscles in a new way with a heavy dose of maracas providing the extra feel.

Then there’s “Gone Shootin'”, a slower tempo track where the band lets the fantastic groove do the talking.

You’ll notice “Up To My Neck in You” sounds more like the songs on “Let There Be Rock” and that’s because it was started during those recording sessions.

“Gimme A Bullet” and “Down Payment Blues” are two of the best songs AC/DC have ever recorded, but like the rest of the album, they are definitely underrated in the canon of the band’s legacy.

Heck, the album even got a ringing endorsement from Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards, who said it’s his favourite AC/DC record.

Check out more of Cam Maxwell’s Rock ‘N Roll Insight.

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