I was just raisin’ hell
I wasn’t doin’ no harm
The cops could not appreciate
My natural charm
This is where Peter Parker got bitten by the radioactive spider, where Kal-El crash landed on Earth, where umm Green lantern got his bling and where Flash got fast. This is exactly where and when I decided hard rock, metal, call it what you will infected me, energised me, made me a better me, gave me membership of a tribe and grossly unrealistic expectations of hot, easy chicks for the rest of my life. In 1985 we had a music programme on called No Limits, put together by, subsequently disgraced, hit-maker Jonathan King it was a bit of a travelogue, music video prog when such things were very rare they played all the usual 80’s mulch with occasional very good bits and then one night they played a clip of an AC/DC track called ‘Stand Up’ and I just flipped.
Something about the chorus just burned its way into me, I could remember the feeling of it, the shouting,
STAND UP STAND UP and take it
STAND UP STAND UP and make it
STAND UP STAND UP and face it
Hell, even the lyric sheet on the LP prints the chorus in uppercase. The next morning, walking to get the school bus, it was just ringing through my head all day, I genuinely couldn’t think of anything else at all, it really was that powerful for me, that all-consuming. By the end of the day I’d arranged to borrow the cassette of Fly on the Wall from Simon Davies and the die was cast for my musical tastes for ever more. True story. I mean I already loved Eliminator, loved all Queen’s heavier bits, loved Pink Floyd and had been subjected to all manner of Hendrix at home, but this was mine, all mine and just sounded a million times more powerful to me – I’d never heard anything as … heavy.
I can remember the sheer thrill of listening to Fly on the Wall for the first time in my bedroom, wondering why something as wonderful as ‘Stand up’ was hidden away on the second side. I can remember the feeling of awe at the sheer awesome, shoutyness of it all, the embarrassment as my mum caught me air guitaring frantically along to ‘Shake Your Foundations’ and suggested that if I liked that sort of thing I’d probably like a band called Led Zeppelin – yeah, right, whatever …
Fly on The Wall was quite simply a life-changing LP for me. My vinyl copy was bought a few years later in 1988, before then I’d made do with several taped copies which I’d worn out. AC/DC became my favourite band and have been ever since, it really is that simple – sure from time to time they’ve had to share the log cabin of my affections with Beastie Boys, Ramones, Tom Waits, Hawkwind and Goldfrapp, but I knew that, love them as I do/did, they were all just passing through, whatever else I get enthusiastic about, I always come back to AC/DC – they own me.
It’s funny, it’s such an intense period of life that age (13-15) because things are brand new, your emotions and hormones are all over the shop and purely because you have the time, you can just get consumed by things, the way at age 41 you simply can’t be. If by using cutting edge magic and neuroscience you were to craft the best LP ever right here, right now and gave it to me today, I’d really like it, really enjoy it, play it loads and loads, but because there is simply so much else going on in my life and head as a 41 year-old, I wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t be able to just live it the way I lived Fly on the Wall back in 1985.
In fact I think a lot of the reasons why I compulsively buy so many LPs is an attempt to recreate that cerebral sheet-lightning that engulfed me when I first heard ‘Stand Up’, just chasing that thrill. I get it a lot of times too. Although I do sometimes feel like the last slightly paunchy, priapic drunk, sitting on a stool at the singles bar, dressed in a faded pink leopard skin T-shirt, hopefully eyeing up any fresh talent to walk in the room – desperately trying to recreate an innocent romance of 20 years before, that I’m no longer capable of having because I’m simply no longer remotely lovable*.
But anyway, that’s enough about me, I could have sworn there was some music around here somewhere. Fly on The Wall seems to be an LP that has just been universally panned by the critics, I can’t remember how many articles I’ve read about ’50 Most Disappointing Rock LPs Ever’ that it’s featured on, no-one seems to have a good word to say about it and I can’t work out why. Okay so it’s no Let There Be Rock, but let’s face it no other LP is. Even without my history I think Fly on the Wall is a damn good rock LP, ‘Stand Up’ still gives me a charge but it ain’t the only one. This LP is chock full of excellent tunes with great solos and shouty choruses (Shake Your Foundations, Back in Business, Fly on the Wall) and even the odd change of pace (Danger). We have a number of Brian Johnson’s trademark, umm, single entendres (Sink The Pink) and one of my all-time personal fave AC/DC tunes ‘Playing With Girls’; I feel this latter one is a real over-looked gem, the guitars and riff has a real bite to it, beats anything I can think of on any of their subsequent LPs hands down.
Okay so the production may lack a bit of bottom end and there’s a couple of fillers in here, but that’s all I’m willing to concede – everything else just rocks. Whatever subject matter you want in a song you can find it here too, lyrically I think it’s a very diverse LP, well okay as long as you only want songs about drinking, f*cking and fighting that is, but why wouldn’t you?! What the hell else would you want to sing about?!
I’m off to be 14 again, or at least until the final chords of ‘Send For The Man’ fade away.
P.S – this post was inspired by a bit of chat over with Mike Ladano, what tune/LP ignited your fire? what’s the track, or song that’s led to you being the sort of ne’er do well that reads nonsense like this?
P.P.S – I found my treasured Fly on the Wall patch stuffed inside the LP sleeve, it’s outlived at least one pair of jeans and the denim jacket that saw me through most of university. It’s clearly a sign from God, I’ll sew it onto my suit tonight.
*that’s one of those extended metaphor thingys – in real life I have been voted ‘Most lovable Welshman’ in 2005, 2009 and 2012.