Blow Up Your Video
Atlantic Records, 1988
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/06/2000
For some reason, I don't think that devotees of AC/DC hold their 1988 release Blow Up Your Video in the highest regard. I remember when it came out, I absolutely fell in love with this record. It almost seemed like Angus Young and crew were aiming to recapture their glory days. They re-teamed up with producers Harry Vanda and George Young, who worked on their first albums. Singles were actually released in America... and you could find them easily! And, best of all, the band was taking some chances musically!
While packing up the Pierce Memorial Archives to prepare for their latest move, I came across my vinyl copy of Blow Up Your Video, and decided to slap it on the turntable again. While the few weaknesses of this album are somewhat crippling, this still remains a killer album.
Production-wise, I almost wish that Vanda and George Young had taken the time to re-listen to the mix and had added a notch more treble. Oh, the final mix here is perfect for tracks like "Ruff Stuff" and "Two's Up," but there is a crispness missing from songs like "Nick Of Time" that really would have kicked them into the stratosphere.
Musically, AC/DC seem to be willing to take some chances and break from the traditional musical formula they had followed for, at that time, 14 years. You can hear a shift in the first half of the album, but the second half is where the cards are laid on the table. You've got an almost progressive hard-rock sound on "Nick Of Time," followed by well-developed tracks in "Ruff Stuff" and "Two's Up". (Don't worry, there's still a cock-rock attitude that only AC/DC can pull off. Sample line from "Two's Up", at least how I heard it: "Gimme head / Gimme tails.")
What is most captivating about Blow Up Your Video is the energy level in the music, a level so infectious that you may soon see yourself bouncing around the room to the disc. The leadoff track "Heatseeker" is one of the best rock tracks AC/DC has done in some time, while the follow-up track and single "That's The Way I Want To Rock 'N Roll" is an interesting development, allowing the guitars and vocals to almost layer themselves. It's a risk, but it works.
This isn't to say that everything on the album works this well. "Meanstreak" is a song with good intentions, but musically, it's far too weak. An almost bump-and-grind groove base isn't a bad thing, but this melody just doesn't work that well. Likewise, "Some Sin For Nuthin'" - I'm sorry, but I actually cringe when I hear Angus Young's opening guitar line of this one (though the solo is tastier), and it's hard for me to sit still for four minutes without diving for the "next track" button on the CD player. You have to say this much: if you gotta fail, then go down in flames.
Still, the positives on Blow Up Your Video outweigh the negatives. Tracks like "Kissin' Dynamite" and "Go Zone" are better than you'd expect them to be, though it does take a few listens to warm up to them. And the closer, "This Means War," is the call to battle that ties up any loose ends left by "Heatseeker"'s boogie beat.
Blow Up Your Video is no Back In Black, but then again, I don't think I'd want it to be that way. With only one or two exceptions, I like the album just the way it is. This is one that's begging for rediscovery among your vinyl shelves.