“ROCK 'N' ROLL DAMNATION" (1978)
Mick Wall, the British rock writer and author of AC/DC: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, called this track “a two-bit piece of head-bopping guff.” Not sure what track he was listening to when he wrote that – maybe old Mick was having a bad day – but for me it’s one of the last of AC/DC’s classic boogie tracks and probably the best of the lot. Former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans loves it almost as much as he loves “Highway To Hell”.
“Rock ’N’ Roll Damnation” has everything you want in an AC/DC song plus shakers, tambourines and handclaps, a real Motown touch that George Young and Harry Vanda brought to bear on the recording. They did something similar with the John Paul Young hit “Love Is In The Air”. Percussion was an underlying feature of many early AC/DC songs. This one really grooves. I never get tired of hearing it.
“Rock ’N’ Roll Damnation” was AC/DC’s first hit in the UK and a lot of the credit has to go to Atlantic’s Michael Klenfner, best known as the fat guy with the moustache who stops Jake and Elwood backstage in the final reel of The Blues Brothers and offers them a recording contract. (“Cold Hearted Man” was the song that made way for it, but you can find it on UK first pressings of Powerage.)
He was senior vice-president of the company at the time, and insisted the band go back and record a radio-worthy single after they delivered the first cut of Powerage to New York. It was a masterstroke and gave AC/DC something of a lifeline when they were in danger of being dumped from the label.
Michael was a real champion of AC/DC behind the scenes at Atlantic, and never got the recognition he was due while he was still alive (he passed away in 2009). He ended up having a falling out with Atlantic president Jerry Greenberg over the choice of producer for Highway To Hell and got fired. But it was Klenfner who arguably did more for the band than anyone else while they were at Atlantic.
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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.