“BEDLAM IN BELGIUM" (1983)
This is a massively underrated barnstormer off the much-maligned (unfairly, I think) Flick Of The Switch. The album was missing Mutt Lange, but the Youngs did have his very capable engineer, Tony Platt, as co-producer in the studio at Compass Point in the Bahamas. Tony’s a real pro. Flick also features the slamming “Nervous Shakedown”, as heavy as a George Foreman uppercut, echoes of which can be heard on “Rock or Bust” off AC/DC’s most recent album of the same name.
But what I find most interesting about “Bedlam In Belgium” is that it’s based on a fracas that broke out on stage in Kontich, Belgium, in 1977, involving Bon Scott, the rest of the band, and the local authorities. AC/DC had violated a noise curfew and things got hairy. An excellent account of it can be read here: http://acdcbelgium.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/bedlam-in-kontich-1977-story-behind.html and here: http://acdcbelgium.blogspot.com.au/2008/11/bedlam-in-belgium-from-eye-witness.html.
Brian Johnson, more than half a decade later, wrote the lyrics with such tactility (the song carries a Young/Young/Johnson credit); almost as if he was the one getting walloped by the Belgian police:
He gave me a crack in the back with his gun
Hurt me so bad I could feel the blood run
Bon-esque! Unfortunately for Brian, he was removed from lyric-writing duties from The Razors Edge (1990) onwards. All songs up to and including 2008’s Black Ice are Young/Young compositions. Rock Or Bust (2014), missing Malcolm, who died in 2017, was also credited as Young/Young.
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.
Just months before Bon passed away in February 1980, AC/DC headlined Judas Priest on more than two dozen European dates on their Highway To Hell tour, starting in Brussels, Belgium, in early November 1979 and running through to Nice, France, in mid December that year.
K.K. Downing, Judas Priest's legendary guitarist from 1970–2011, remembers a different, little-known side of the hard-drinking, womanising rock 'n' roller that was the public Bon Scott: the Bon who was very, very attentive to his appearance.
‘Bon always presented himself as a gentleman,' he says. ‘He was always immaculate with his appearance. Even very early in the morning, to me he came across as a true professional and an ideal role model for any upcoming band.
‘All of the band treated us extremely well. I have nothing but very fond memories and appreciation to all members of AC/DC for making the tour as easy and as pleasurable as it was for us.'
Judas Priest enjoyed their breakthrough in the States with the 1982 album Screaming For Vengeance. As for any insights on whether Bon's lyrics ended up on AC/DC's biggest album, 1980's Back In Black, Downing plays a straight bat.
‘I am not able to comment as I am not familiar with that part of the band's history.'
BON: THE LAST HIGHWAY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BON SCOTT AND AC/DC'S BACK IN BLACK is available to preorder now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and hundreds of other retailers. Check out K.K.'s official website at kkdowning.net.
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.