Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: AC/DC, "Iron Man 2"

This record is such a softball that it’s hardly fair for me to review it at all. A collection of previously released songs from a hard rock icon like AC/DC is so easy that I almost feel bad about it, but for my three loyal readers, I’ll persevere.

I’ll admit that I’m not a huge AC/DC fan. They’ve always been one of those bands that I enjoy in small doses. If “Dirty Deeds” or “Hell’s Bells” comes on the radio, I’ll crank it up and rock out, but you’ll only find a few of their records on my CD rack.
When I heard that they were being tapped for the soundtrack to “Iron Man 2,” I expected, essentially, a sort of greatest hits package. I was pleasantly surprised, though, by the final result.

First off, the hits are there. You’ve got “Back in Black,” “Thunderstruck,” “T.N.T.,” “Let There Be Rock” and “Highway to Hell” among the 15 tracks on this record, but even in that there are some surprises. Notably missing is the overplayed “You Shook Me All Night Long” and several other songs that get too heavy rotation on rock radio. The other 10 tracks on the album are largely album cuts from throughout the band’s career. There are even a few songs here that, not being a huge fan, I’m not intimately familiar with.

That said, many of the other songs, are still well known. It’s unlikely that there’s a rock fan out there that hasn’t heard the record’s first single “Shoot to Thrill” from the classic “Back in Black” record. Also from that album is one of my favorite AC/DC tunes, “Have a Drink on Me.” I’ve always loved that opening guitar lick. Likewise, “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” and “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” are underground classics in their own right. “Evil Walks,” from the “For Those About to Rock” record, is another great choice that’s one of their better tunes, but not a huge hit.

The songs that I was less familiar with include “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation” from “Powerage,” “Guns for Hire” from “Flick of the Switch,” “Cold Hearted Man” from a collection of outtakes and rarities and “War Machine” from the band’s latest “Black Ice.” As with most of AC/DC’s catalog, I prefer the two tracks with original singer Bon Scott. The first of those is a classic example of the good-time, old-fashioned rock tunes from the Scott era, while “Cold Hearted Man” has a darker, dirtier feel. I also like “War Machine” more than I expected, though, and it gives me a little incentive to check out the new record, which in all honesty, I only gave a cursory listen when it came out.

Of course, I’m not telling true AC/DC fans anything they don’t know already in this review, and if you fall in that category, you probably won’t be interested unless you’re a completist that has to have every record with their name on it. But for casual fans like me who are looking for a good collection that doesn’t focus so much on the biggest hits (“Back in Black” and “Highway to Hell” notwithstanding), this would be a good addition.

In short, it’s a perfect soundtrack for a summer blockbuster action movie. Just like the movie, the music here is big, loud, flashy and energetic. It’s a match made in heaven … or somewhere.

Get "Iron Man 2."

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