Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap


Atlantic Records, 1976


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In 1976, record executives in America were in a bit of a pickle. They had just released High Voltage, a compilation of AC/DC's first two Australian albums, to the public. Meanwhile, Angus Young and company had released Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in Australia. The question came up: would they dare "saturate" the market with another new album from a group who had yet to gain a solid foothold in America?

The answer: no. Instead, they ended up taking one song off this album, "Problem Child," and substituting it for "Crabsody In Blue" on AC/DC's next album, Let There Be Rock. This assured that songs like "Crabsody In Blue" and "R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)" would never see legitimate release in the States, becoming prizes to search for in the import bins and used record shops, Napster not having been invented way back then.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Had it not been for Bon Scott's death in 1980 and the rise in popularity AC/DC found in the States, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap probably never would have seen the light of day up here. But in 1981, five years after it was originally released, this album became an official part of AC/DC's American discography. Quickly, listeners discovered what they had been missing all these years.

Some might claim it was a longing for Scott that drove this album into near cult status. I'd beg to differ, and suggest that the quality of the music on this disc is what keeps it on the top of my list of AC/DC's best releases. You've got the title track, which remains an amazing song even 25 years after it was recorded. (There's a reason why this song has remained a staple of the band's concert lineup.) You've got the full-length version of "Problem Child" - and you can understand why the suits would select this track to put on Let There Be Rock in 1977. You've got the blues-on-speed "Rocker" - a track that had to have people's heads scratching in the States when they first heard the live version on If You Want Blood You've Got It.

Sexual braggadoccio and double entendres make up a lot of this disc, from the blatantness of "Big Balls" to the surprisingly enjoyable "Love At First Feel". I've said before that I probably hold AC/DC up to a different standard when it comes to cock-rock - and I still believe that much of the bragging AC/DC does in songs like these is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

This isn't to say that Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is a perfect album. Two songs on the second half of the album, "Ain't No Fun (Waiting 'Round To Be A Millionire)" and "Squealer," seem to be lessons on one or two chords, and just feel like they were thrown to the wolves far too early in their lives. Had each song undergone more development, they probably could have been far more memorable.

Still, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is a nice reminder of the simpler days for AC/DC, as well as how influential Scott was to the band (with no offense meant to present-day singer Brian Johnson). Had this album come out in America in 1976, it probably would have been swept under the rug like many pre- Highway To Hell releases have. Releasing it just after Scott's death assured Scott's folklore would live forever.

Rating: B+

User Rating: C+



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.