Critics and their own fans have spit on AC/DC for playing the same chords repeatedly and knocked their high octane sexed up/ drinking lyrics as both sexist and satanic. But writer Ian Christe summed it up best about AC/DC – “they had ten times the duck of Chuck Berry, five times the speed of the Ramones, twice the chops of Led Zeppelin and all the girt of Motorhead. Ok,, maybe “twice the guitar players of Led Zeppelin” is more appropriate, but nonetheless, there is no arguing why the band has sold 200 million records worldwide.
AC/DC: High-Voltage Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History by Phil Sutcliffe is all that you want out of a hardcover/coffee table book: pictures galore. And like AC/DC’s power chord repetitive formula, this illustrated history is quite simple to read: big letters, big pictures and big pages. Similar to another recent Voyageur Press release – Neil Young The Illustrated History - this AC/DC one starts off heavy on the band’s early years and then plows through its history using its album releases as the backbone behind the band’s evolution. From the stripped down rock of the Bon Scott era to the Mutt Lange studio shine of Highway to Hell and Black in Black, to the band’s less frequent post 1990/Razors Edge album output; you get a cliff-notes story of the tours, the albums, the firings and hirings. Included within the history are two page studies on each of AC/DC’s studio and live albums, along with a complete discography, and yes, more pictures.
Where AC/DC: High-Voltage Rock ‘n’ Roll leaves little to the imagination in the way of its 200+ pages of colorful photos, it still leaves the in-depth rock and roll blood sweat and tears story to other biographies ( AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll by Murray Engleheart). You’re not going to learn how the Young brothers play their lead/rhythm dynamic so flawlessly or why bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd have rarely ever said a recorded word in public. You do get a small peak into the wild world of Bon Scott and his pre-AC/DC bands, and a smaller glimpse of what lies under Brian Johnson’s working man’s cap.
Aside from what the book misses out on, its pictures tell an illustrated story of perhaps the greatest pure rock and roll bands of all time. 35+ years with enormous commercial success without a single ballad is almost unheard of, but then again AC/DC really never gave a crap what other people were doing at the time; just listen to their poor selling "middle finger to hair metal" 80’s albums- Flick of the Switch, Fly on the Wall and Blow Up Your Video.