Flick of the Switch is the ninth Australian and eighth international studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC, recorded shortly after their European Tour at the beginning of 1983. The album was originally released in the US on 15 August 1983. The album was self-produced by AC/DC and reached #4 in UK and #15 in the US, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA.
On the recorded commentary on the album for the Live at Donington DVD, the band members state that the album was an attempt to make the band raw again, and were happy with the result.
After having problems with Malcolm as well as drugs and alcohol, drummer Phil Rudd was fired midway through the album's recording sessions, although he had completed his drum parts. Former Procol Harum drummer B.J. Wilson was hired to help complete the recording if needed, but his contributions were not used. The drum position was eventually filled by future Dio drummer Simon Wright after more than 700 auditions were held in the U.S. and UK. Simon Kirke of Free and Bad Company fame, and Paul Thompson of Roxy Music were two of the drummers auditioned. Wright appeared in the videos for "Flick of the Switch", "Nervous Shakedown", and "Guns For Hire". He also toured for the album, and is seen in the pro-shot video recordings from that period. Rudd returned to the band in 1994.
The album was re-released in 2003 as part of the AC/DC Remasters series.
User Album Review
Along with Fly On The Wall, Flick Of The Switch is probably the most maligned AC/DC album. However, for those people who speak ill of this album, I have some startling news: it's good!
Actually, FOTS is my third favorite AC/DC album, right after Highway To Hell and The Razor's Edge. Yes, I do like it better than Back In Black, and that's because it's a more consistent album.
On Flick Of The Switch, AC/DC aimed for a return to their roots, i.e. to the time when they played small clubs and weren't famous at all. Of course, for the biggest touring rock outfit of 1983, this was a difficult task to accomplish, and it wasn't fully achieved. Still, the group deserve merit for the effort, especially since this album follows up the incredibly mediocre For Those About To Rock' We Salute you, released two years previously.
The first thing hardened AC/DC listeners will notice is that Angus and Malcolm's riffs have regained their crunch. While on FTATRWSY the pair had gone for far more melodic approaches, on this one they just let it rip, causing the listener to unrepentantly tap his or her foot on the floor while keeping up with the song. Additionally, Phil Rudd's strong drums add to the catchy factor, making a few of these songs clear 80's-period AC/DC standouts.
One factor, however, is mind-boggling: Angus' solos are incredibly average (except for the one on Rising Power, of course). In many of these songs, it's Malcolm's rhythm guitar that truly shines, keeping strong backbeat riffs that often overpower his younger brother's soloing. Such is the case on Nervous Shakedown, for example, or Guns for Hire.
Another interesting factor is that this was the first time the Young brothers took production in their own hands. However, rather than the drenched-out sound of Fly On The Wall or Blow Up Your Video, the production here is quite decent. Brian's voice is a bit muffled, and the bass is criminally chopped (not that it was ever that important, anyway), but the guitars and drums more than make up for it, sounding absolutely bombastic.
Unfortunately, not all is good on this album. The first six or seven songs are great, but then the album starts to steadily decrease quality. The last three tracks, Bedlam In Belgium, Badlands and Brain Shake are each worse than the previous one, with the latter rating as the low point of the album.. however, by this stage, the album is too far forward for this to matter; we have enjoyed the previous songs so much that we just good-naturedly endure or skip the aforementioned three tracks.
Another low point on this album are Brian's lyrics. Everybody know AC/DC's current singer isn't a patch on Bon Scott, as far as lyrics are concerned. Where the latter wrote socially conscious little stories, with the occasional sex lyric thrown in, the former writes sex lyrics with the occasional socially conscious little story thrown in. Here, most of his lyrics are about hanky-panky, and not always that subtle' c'mon, Guns For Hire' You don't exactly have to be a rocket scientist.
Still, however flawed, this is still a pretty decent little album from AC/DC, especially if we put it in its proper time frame and consider what came immediately before and immediately after this. Sure, it isn't a patch on Highway to Hell or, arguably, Back In Black, but AC/DC fans should give it a go. It's a very enjoyable listen.
External Album Reviews