AC/DC – Black Ice (Columbia)

Just imagine if AC/DC didn’t use the word ‘rock’ or the word ‘roll’ in their songs.

The world would be a poorer place. And the canon of the globe’s greatest bar room boogie masters would be shamefully slashed in half. As it is, the prolific Young brothers have always placed great faith in two lyrical staples and it’s no surprise that there is an abundance of ‘rock’ and a fair smattering of ‘roll’ on their first studio album for eight years. And the tunes are as infectious as ever.

Whether you’re bouncing along to new single Rock N Roll Train, humming along to She Likes Rock N Roll, nodding along to Rock N Roll Dream or simply Rocking All The Way to the closing song and title track Black Ice it’s impossible to mistake this for anything but a good, old fashioned AC/DC record.

But once you’ve got the ‘rocks’, the ‘rolls’ and the ‘ns’ out of the way what’s left to take from the Aussie quartet’s return to commercial duties? The answer is quite a lot and it starts with Skies On Fire – the second track of AC/DC’s third or fourth coming (we’ve kinda lost track over the years). From the bass-heavy intro to the signature sleaze guitar this is classic ‘DC and even the deliciously simple skies on fire/flames burn higher chorus eats into your brain like some AC/Dsease.

We know Self Made Man has been going crazy for Anything Goes (doesn’t it sound a bit Staus Quo?) and it gets the job done. But War Machine is the first new song which demands that old fans and new converts alike sit up and take notice as it rattles along at a pulsating pace before bursting out all over your speakers like Thunderstruck on steroids. Like Angus – short, but far from sweet.

Sides III and IV (oh yes, we’re in vinyl mode here and it smells great) keep the rock coming and Decibel is one of those songs you think AC/DC must have written before. They haven’t, as such, but the title is made for a band which relies on sheer volume as a substitute for regular variety. Thumping, thoughtless, thoroughly entertaining.

And that just about sums up what we want from an AC/DC record whether it’s 2008 or 1978. We want singalong choruses, fierce riffs and the odd earth shattering Geordie shriek. We want ‘rock’, we want ‘roll’ and we want four blokes writing music about women, wine, fighting and fun. That’s what we’ve got.

But finally, just why Geordie Brian Johnson has included the band’s ode to disastrous ex-Newcastle United boss Jack Charlton so high up is a mystery. As a self-confessed Magpies’ fanatic surely Johnno should have replaced Big Jack with Little Kevin. Or, at the very least, Rock N Roll Robson

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Another AC/DC Rock N Rollercoaster