AC Fly Wall 06

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.

Genius that I am, it genuinely took me months to get this pun.
Genius that I am, it genuinely took me months to get this pun.

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.

As close as Lego gets ..
As close as Lego gets ..

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*.

Poster from 7" of 'Danger'
Poster from 7″ of ‘Danger’

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.

AC Fly Wall 05

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.

305 Down.

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?

I briefly consider sewing patch onto my muscular forearm, as sign of my devotion to LP
I briefly consider sewing patch onto my muscular forearm, as sign of my devotion to LP

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.

15 thoughts on “STAND UP STAND UP and Take It

  1. Thank god Fly On The Wall came with a lyric sheet!…I mean the beginning of Johnson panting at the beginning of the title track … that’s crazy stuff…hahaha

    1. I’m pretty sure it’s the only ‘DC record with one too. Just a bit embarrassing to find out how far off the mark I’d been with my lyrical interpretation for the previous 6 months!

  2. Not all that familiar with this album but I remember it had Sink The Pink on it didn’t it? Fnarr. Anyway I was never the biggest fan of this band but good on you for sticking up for this one. My 1st exposure to KISS was my equivalent crunch point and bizarrely enough it was also via No Limits! You’re the only other person I’ve ever spoken to that even remembers that program!

  3. Good stuff here. Love your enthusiasm and adoration for such a critically panned album. Unjustly panned, in my opinion.

    By the time I was 13 I owned every bit there was to own that was AC/DC. All on cassette, of course. It was 1986 you know. I fell hard for AC/DC. My earliest memories of them was hearing Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Highway To Hell on 8-track in my parents 1977 Pontiac Firebird. Then eventually they had bought Back In Black on vinyl. Point is, from the get go it was clear I would someday obsess over Angus Young.

    “Who Made Who”was the song I needed to get that fire started. I went back and got everything. Fly On The Wall was one of the last I owned, but it didn’t grab me like the rest. But the title track, “Shake Your Foundations”, and “Danger” were favorites. I can’t remember “Stand Up”. Think I’ll look for this one tomorrow.

    A great memory of this album was my dad explaining to me a song he liked on this record after having a few Strohs one Saturday night. Him drunkenly singing the chorus, complete with “Ahy, Ahy, Oh, Shake your Foundations” was a memory I’ll never forget.

    Again, great post. And awesome patch!

    1. Thank you, I’m not ashamed to say I kissed the patch when I was reunited with it.

      Listening to DDDDC in a Pontiac Firebird?! not fair, that’s so cool! why cant I be American too?!

      I love the idea of a drunken dad performing ‘Shake Your Foundations’ for your delectation, my kids will long remember the frankly awesome Angus Young-style duck walking display I put on last night while listening to this!

      1. Congratulations, I’m appointing you an honorary American. Please grab one each from the box in front of you: one gun(or two), one trucker hat, an orange hunting vest, a “Say No To Socialized Medicine” bumper sticker, and one(or two) Big Macs.

        Welcome, Patriot!

        I remember when I was 13, my best friend’s stepbrother gave me an AC/DC songbook. It was from the 70s and and a good portion of their songs, like up to Powerage, transcribed with the chords listed. But the coolest part was that there were paper dolls of Angus and Bon Scott in the book…and they hadn’t been cut out yet! For the life of me I have no idea what happened to that book. Really wishing I had it now.

  4. Despite glowing with reflected nationalistic pride at the adulation shown to AC/DC, I have often wondered whether all one really needs is 1 Bon album and 1 Brian album. Do you think your perseverance relates to the valid observation about seeking the ever elusive ‘cerebral sheet-lightning’ effect? Certainly by middle age we have heard so much music that it is rare indeed to be surprised. Fascinating topic.

    1. Yup, I stand reconciled with your nation again. Hoorah!

      I think if you’re not a fan of the genre per se then you’re probably quite right, one LP of each would do you, but I love it all so much that, just like a loony bird-spotter all the minor variations just thrill me – ‘uyou see the marsh pipit is entirely distinguishable from the tree-hugging creeper, by a tiny bar of white on its left flank ..’

      The lightning thing was the best I could do to describe it, there is a definite ‘before’ and ‘after’ I heard that track. I think you’re right I describe most music in terms of they’re a little like X, but with a touch of Y, teamed with Z’s polyrhythmic doo-dah diddlings.

  5. “I was just raisin’ hell
    I wasn’t doin’ no harm
    The cops could not appreciate
    My natural charm”

    Well NOW I know what the hell he’s singing there! My old cassette didn’t come with a lyric sheet. I’m among those who bitch about the production, I think the vocals are too unintelligible. But you’re right about this album — good songs, good solos, it’s a good album! I actually like this…maybe second best of the 80’s albums. (I love Flick of the Switch.)

    This one has a killer title track, plus Danger which I think is a forgotten gem. It was really big in my highschool at the time though.

    Funny story. The first time I heard most of these songs was a third generation VHS dubbed copy of the Fly on the Wall video. If you think Johnson’s voice was unintelligible, you need to hear it on third generation video to understand my experience. I had to guess which song was which. I had “Fly on the Wall” written in as “Playing With Girls” because I couldn’t tell for the life of me.

    1. I loved that video – my friends and I used to just watch it on endless repeat. I would like to see it again, there are snippets on YouTube, but not the whole thing.

      It was great to get a lyric sheet after 3 years of singing totally the wrong words to almost everything.

      1. Sometimes I like my made up words better than the real ones. Def Leppard albums never came with lyric sheets on cassette versions. And Mutt Lange’s gang vocal productions rendered those lyrics as audibles as the vowels in my farts.

        It was a great video. Shake Your Foundations was the other song that really stood out to me. I got Who Made Who for my birthday, I was thrilled to get better quality of some of those songs!

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