Armagideon Time

This site used to have a semi-regular autobiographical feature (“Albums That Meant Something“) where I’d discuss the impact of certain albums at certain points in my life. It fell by the wayside after I’d burned through most of the prime subject material, ampoule yet thinking back upon it has given me the notion to go through my record — not tape or CD or mp3 — collection and discuss its contents in roughly chronological order.

I can’t guarantee every entry will be particularly pithy or profound, health but I’m pretty sure I can find something to say about each featured platter…even if it ends up being little more than the location of and reasons for its purchase.

So let us kick things off with the first non-kiddie album I ever purchased…

…AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap, clinic picked up at Zayre’s and paid for with gift cash from my tenth birthday.

After the one-two punch of Highway to Hell and Back in Black knocked rock radio on its ass, AC/DC’s label rushed to exploit that success by flooding the shops with the Aussie rockers’ older material. The most successful of these efforts was Dirty Deeds, a 1976 Australian release given an internationally distributed reissue in 1981.

The hard pub rock tenor of the material may have been light years away from the guitar rock bombast that would be come AC/DC’s signature sound (and go-to punchline for lazy music critics), but Dirty Deeds managed to gain traction among North Woburn’s wayward children thanks to the scorching title track…

…and a no-fail recipe for attracting the adoration of “edgy” disk jockeys and other paragons of arrested development…

I’m not going to make excuses, but when you’re the type of kid who considered the Dr. Demento Show to be the pinnacle of commercial radio broadcasting, “Big Balls” was the stuff of high art and so many stifled giggles in the elementary school cafeteria.

Punk rock didn’t really make an impact where I lived, so we bratty tykes had to take our musical transgressions where we could find them — and that just happened to be in a puerile stew of testicular double entendres crafted for maximum adult disapproval. It certainly was the motivation behind my purchase of Dirty Deeds, a confession which my wife met with a matter of fact “Of course it was. You were ten.”

I don’t recall what happened to my copy of Dirty Deeds, as it was never technically part of my collection and preceded my seeerious record-buying days by almost a decade. It did, however, get plenty of spins on the kiddie record player with the contact paper carnival scenes my brother and I owned.

Fun Fact #1: AC/DC — alongside Tom Petty and Cheap Trick — were classified as a “successful punk act” by one of Billboard‘s sad attempts to come to grips with the “New Wave.”

Fun Fact #2: Up until I plucked the album out of the bin, my comics-addled brain thought the title of the song was “Dirty Deeds and the Thunder Chief” (and that’s still how I sing it when I’m not within earshot of others). I later found out the title actually was cartoon-inspired, referring to a villain’s business card in Beany and Cecil.

Related posts:

  1. Every Record Tells a Story #11: I can take it or leave it
  2. Every Record Tells a Story #16: Made to last
  3. Every Record Tells a Story #8: Do it again sometime

6 Responses to “Every Record Tells a Story #1: And the Thunder Chief”

  1. stavner

    Wikipedia says it was inspired by “Beany and Cecil,” so who’s right?

  2. bitterandrew

    Wikipedia is, and my lateral thought processes have fucked me up yet again. Sigh.

  3. CP Bananas

    I always hear it as “Thunder Chief” too.

  4. TG

    OK, I’ll be the guy to defend AC/DC on technical grounds: whether you like them or not, these guys know what they are doing and they do it very, very well. They are one of the best-paced rock bands out there. Largely due to Malcolm Young, one of the great rhythm players, who locks in the groove and drives the riffs.

    Plus, come on– these guys NEVER chased a trend. Yes, as Andrew points out, they went from pub boogie to rock bombast, but that’s not really much of a stretch. There is no AC/DC “disco” album, no “new wave” album, no “metal” album, no “grunge” album…. That cannot be said of most rock bands of their generation. They just do what they do and have been doing it almost as long as many of us here have been alive.

    So yeah, I’m an old punk guy, but I can definitely appreciate AC/DC.

    Looking forward to this feature!

  5. John

    I vividly remember buying this as a kid (on cassette) from the Gold Circle. I brought my tape player along and was listening to Big Balls before we left the parking lot.

    I seem to remember reading once that when AC/DC toured England in the late 70′s the punk community embraced them.

  6. Snark Shark

    “AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap”

    HELL YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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