Do any of my Virginian friends remember when Food Lion sold record albums? The year was 1983, the store was the location on Tyre Neck Road in Portsmouth and the child ready to make a purchase was a curly-haired ignoramus of 11 years. I had saved nearly 1200 pennies' worth of allowance in order to trade Abe Lincoln's facial representation for a more colorful portrait. Would the tall 'n' bearded one be swapped with a baby smoking cigarettes on Van Halen's 1984 cover pose? Would our 16th prez be replaced in the history books by a hot rod adorning the face plate of ZZ Top's Eliminator? Would the light on the Gettysburg Address be dimmed by Angus Young's electrical test on AC/DC's Flick Of The Switch visual? I'd love to lie and claim one of the aforementioned LPs as the first slab of vinyl bought with my own money. Pulling honesty out of Abraham's top hat, however, I walked out of Food Lion that day clutching Culture Club's Colour By Numbers under my arm. An embarrassing first choice for the milk crate? Maybe, but at least it wasn't a goddamn Wham! album. That offense would've necessitated an ear bite from Mike Tyson's chompers.
Air-drumming into another generation, my 11-year-old nephew Nolan hasn't experienced any hangovers from listening to tween po(o)p such as The Jonas Brothers (did they really play a free show outside MacArthur Center before becoming famous?) and Justin Bieber (John Mayer is JB all growed up). Thanks to the influences of his uncle (takes a bow!) and soundtrack selections from various PlayStation 3 video games, the not-so-small dude rocks out to Aerosmith, KISS, Ramones, Motorhead, Twisted Sister, etc. The band Nolan favors the most? AC/DC. Though my neph digs their entire output from High Voltage to Black Ice, he prefers the early works with Bon Scott on the mic. Favorite album? Highway To Hell. Favorite song? "Beating Around The Bush". Awesome picks, Noles! No wonder you're a straight-A(C/DC) student! Gradually, I'll introduce him to artists who've used Acca Dacca as a blueprint (Rose Tattoo, The Four Horsemen, Jackal, Airbourne, etc.), but the latest effort from 20-year worshippers at the Church of Bon in Van Nuys, CA needed an immediate reading of its scriptures.
Rhino Bucket's 1990 self-titled debut on Reprise Records rang the bells for those who'd tried to prevent Bon Scott's final ride on Hell's Highway a decade earlier. Georg Dolivo (vocals/guitar), Greg Fields (lead guitar), Reeve Downes (bass) and Liam Jason (drums) did their damnedest in siphoning gasoline from the golden throat's Cadillac. Tunes like "One Night Stand," "Train Ride" and "Ride The Rhino" were unapologetic in their toasts to the whiskey-coated voice and signature groove that'd filled AC/DC's pre-Back In Black shot glasses. 1993 saw the departure of Liam Jason (who'd later have gender-reassignment surgery and briefly rejoin the band as a woman -- now THAT'S AC/DC!!!) and the arrival of one-time Acca Dacca snare-smasher Simon Wright. After an extended hiatus from 1996-2001, RB returned with Brian Forsythe from Kix taking over the duties on lead guitar. Appearances on several movie soundtracks (including "The Wrestler") and a slot on the Rocklahoma festival helped the band regain a foothold in an L.A. rock scene that'd changed considerably since the heyday of Riki Rachtman and "Headbangers Ball."
RB's 2001 core lineup returns to The Hardest Town with the unchanged ambition of recording a proper follow-up to Highway To Hell. Make no mistake, Brian Johnson has done an incredible job fronting AC/DC over the past 30 years and been a part of some great moments in the band's history. I must admit, though, to spinning THT way more often than the otherwise-fine Black Ice. Had Bon Scott lived to drink another fifth, RB's latest would've been on the shelves as a Wal-Mart exclusive. When Georg intones, "I'm looking for money/I'm living in dirt/Something for nothing/'Cause that's all it's worth" on the title cut, an emphatic door greeter, a shifty manager and a sly smiley face grant the problem child permission to five-finger Acca Dacca's Backtracks collection. With the economic problems and other riff raff, these three Wally World workers realize it ain't no fun waiting 'round to be a millionaire. Rosie behind the register isn't a squealer, so the touch of her lips turns out to be love at first feel. However, you suspect Jack from automotive is doing the bad boy boogie with your not-so-little lover ("Every time you come over/There's a weird vibe/I see you looking at my woman and I wonder/What happened last night"). It takes big balls to fool around with another man's lady, so why doesn't your "Dog Don't Bite" Jack's live wire? Being a jilted rock 'n' roll singer who was shot down in flames by a woman can make one forget his identity as a love hungry man. Simply go down the aisle stocked with Krylon and take your cans to the biggest Wal-Mart in Sin City. Once your tagging is finished ("I got a mind/It's on the wall/Big block letters/Ten feet tall"), Rosie's cute 'n' cuddly friend in gardening will "Know My Name." Feeling the down payment blues on a deposit for a place to house you and the horticultural honey, Jack gives your squeeze a ride on his Vespa. Damn, kicked in the teeth again? Here's the message you want passed from "Street To Street": "I'm a bad motherfuckin' man, if you take what's mine/If you mess with my woman and child, it's your suicide." What's next to the moon is a star called loneliness. If that's a light heading to heaven, then hell ain't a bad place to be. Because "You're Gone" ("All I ever wanted was for you to be mine"), a permanent "Gone shootin'." sign hangs on the front door.
Back to Wal-Mart for a bullet to bite on...