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WINTER ALBUM ROUNDUP : Thunder From Down Under, New Sounds From Motown : Check List * * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty :

February 14, 1988|DON WALLER

* * 1/2 AC/DC. "Blow Up Your Video." Atlantic. This is the Aussie/English quintet's 12th LP. The previous 11 have sold upward of 13 million copies in the United States alone, and loyal fans can expect more of the same beer-soaked, grease-spattered, teeth-spitting trash compaction that they've clutched to their T-shirts 'n' halter tops in the past.

Truthfully, it's better than that. For a one and a two, founding ax-wielding brethren Angus and Malcolm Young have again enlisted the production services of ex-Easybeats Harry Vanda and (big brother) George Young, who bring a certain half-crocked pop sensibility to this ballroom blitzkrieg. For trey, as the band's first full-length studio effort in nearly three years, these Down Under Thunder Cats 'n' Jammer Kidz were able to spend enough time away from hotel bar stools to actually dream up a few new (for them) licks.

"Heatseeker," the first single, is prototypal. Set up first one, then another, lashing slashing rhythm guitar riff and let Brian Johnson's leather-lunged vocals do the rest. No fills, no frills, just 45 minutes of pure unadulterated whambamthankyoumam. Highlights include "That's the Way I Wanna Rock and Roll," which sports a nifty '50s-ish git-tar/drums exchange somewhere between Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" and "Rock and Roll"; "Meanstreak," a slinky hard soul number redolent of Free and Wilson Pickett; the bluesy "Some Sin for Nuthin'," which--wonder upon wonders--actually has clever lyrics; and "This Means War," a zip-gun laser boogie-woogie that's destined to be every air-guitarist's stairway to heaven.

Bang your head. And take your hat off to Angus Young, the only guitarist man enough to build a career out of prancing around in an Australian schoolboy's uniform, right down to the short pants. Add to that the group's admirable reputation for live shows (at which, in the words of one longtime fan, "If things get slow they just play worse") and you might begin to understand why AC/DC's plastic fantastic success is virtually fool-, er, critic-proof.

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