“GIMME A BULLET”
This was the song that began my personal Conradian journey into the music of Bon Scott and the Young brothers. It opens my 2013 book, The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, as it was the song that, at a crucial juncture in my life, connected me with AC/DC on an emotional and physical level I’d never experienced before, and it made me a fan.
After the book came out in Australia, I gave a lift one night to Mark Evans, AC/DC’s bass player from 1975–77. We had just visited AC/DC drummer Tony Currenti at his pizzeria in Penshurst. My daughter Billie, Mark and I drove through the western suburbs of Sydney listening to songs off Powerage, Highway To Hell and Let There Be Rock. It was surreal: driving around midnight, AC/DC cranked up full volume like something out of Wayne’s World, with a guy who used to be in AC/DC in the back seat, singing along with Billie and me. I’ll never forget it.
I dedicated The Youngs to Mark, Tony and late Atlantic Records executive Michael Klenfner. Mark told me he’d gone away after reading The Youngs and re-listened to Powerage. He’d been in an adjoining studio playing with another band when some of it was recorded and George Young had even borrowed his guitar (as Cliff Williams had had visa problems entering Australia).
After re-listening to the album, Mark was convinced George Young had played bass on the album (there are previously unpublished photos in The Youngs from inside the studio of George playing bass with Angus and Malcolm). Perhaps that was why the bass on “Gimme A Bullet” was so good and so much notier than Cliff’s usual contributions. Some of the bass on the album could well be Cliff, who eventually arrived in Australia and went into the studio – his name appears on the album and the official line is that he was the bass player. Engineer Mark Opitz insists it was Cliff and Cliff himself says he played on the whole album. But, for listeners at least, whose bass playing finally ended up being used on each track in the final analysis is up for debate.
Listen to it yourself and decide. I've written a whole separate story about the bass on Powerage, which you can read here. There’s a history of George Young playing uncredited bass on AC/DC records. Personally, I think it’s one of their greatest songs, notable for the lack of a solo from Angus Young (though the great Filippo Olivieri aka Solo Dallas does a great version with a solo) -- and, as I write in The Youngs, it stopped me from doing something stupid at a weak moment. So it has personal resonance and significance to me; the best music always does. Powerage, 40 years old this year, is unquestionably the band’s masterpiece.
BON: THE LAST HIGHWAY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BON SCOTT AND AC/DC'S BACK IN BLACK is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, FNAC and hundreds of other retailers around the world.
Jesse Fink is the author of Bon: The Last Highway: The Untold Story of Bon Scott and AC/DC's Back In Black and The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC. For more information about Bon, click HERE or click the book covers below to be directed to editions in your preferred territory and language.