FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK WE SALUTE YOU
As the summer of 1981 rolled into its final days, AC/DC had good reason to be optimistic. After eight years of slugging it out in rock’s minor leagues, the five-piece Australian juggernaut had risen to the majors on the brawny back of two instant classics: 1979’s Highway To Hell and its follow-up, 1980’s commercial blockbuster Back In Black, both produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange. AC/DC were officially one of the world’s biggest groups.
They were also a group in the midst of a minor crisis. The band – Angus Young (lead guitar), Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar), Brian Johnson (vocals), Cliff Williams (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums) – had spent most of the summer composing and rehearsing in a huge abandoned factory in France. The work was in preparation for AC/DC’s highly-anticipated Back In Black follow-up – For Those About To Rock We Salute You. But once they entered the Paris-based EMI-Pathe Marconi recording facility with Lange, AC/DC found it impossible to capture their signature sound on tape.
“The studio came highly recommended,” said Johnson, “but we just couldn’t get a good live sound. Mutt finally said, ‘This is hard work – we’re missing the point.’”
Frustrated by the unproductive sessions, and eager to flee the studio, the boys were relieved when they were invited to headline the second annual Monsters of Rock Festival at England’s Castle Donington. Held on August 22 before a crowd of 65,000, the prestigious event was considered the Woodstock of Hard Rock.
But as the group prepared to storm the stage, it seemed for one absurd moment as if trouble had followed them from France to Castle Donington. As Brian Johnson told the British publication Sounds: “The crowd was cheering like mad, but as we were going up the steps to the stage, some security guy says to Malcolm, ‘Come one, get off – you haven’t got a pass!’ So I said, ‘Oi, he’s in the band!’ And the guy says, ‘And you can shut up – you ain’t coming up here either!’” The confusion was eventually straightened out, and the band was allowed onstage. The gig turned out to be a roaring success, and AC/DC’s superstar status was confirmed.
Returning to France, AC/DC were pleased to discover that Lange had found a solution to their recording problems: he’d simply moved the entire operation to a rehearsal space on the outskirts of Paris and hired the Mobile One Studio from London to record the group. The sound was deemed satisfactory, and the sessions began anew.
The band never really doubted that Mutt would come up with an appropriate solution; he hadn’t let them down before. Lange had first been hired by AC/DC at the behest of their record company to help the band achieve a more commercial sound. It was under his guidance that AC/DC came into their own. By refining some of their rougher edges, Lange helped sharpen their impact.
As Angus Young told Guitar World magazine, “Malcolm called Mutt up when we were writing Highway To Hell in 1979 and more or less said, ‘What can you do for us?’ And Mutt had the right answers. He said, ‘I don’t think you need to be in the studio for a long time.’ We had already written most of the album, so Mutt said he’d just give it a bit of spit and polish and we’d be out in five or six weeks.”
Explained Malcolm, “Mutt didn’t like the fact that we raged a little too much at the end of our songs. He also made modifications to some of our arrangements that really worked, and he was great with vocals. So we thought, ‘This guy’s no slouch, he knows what he’s doing. He got the best out of us.’
“He realized that we were a good band who could play their instruments and he just let us go for it,” Malcolm added. “A lot of musicians that play in a studio situation can’t cut the mustard. When Mutt saw how organized Angus and I were with our parts, he loved it. The freedom was there. And we gave him freedom as well – we would try anything he asked us.”
The band was definitely willing to experiment with its sound on For Those About To Rock We Salute You. While the album delivered the requisite number of party-hearty anthems and instantly memorable riffs, it also contained a few nifty twists on AC/DC’s world-famous sound. For instance, the grinding “Let’s Get It Up” was certainly one of the sexiest and funkiest things AC/DC had ever committed to tape. And the surprisingly poppy “Night Of The Long Knives” presaged the commercial metal that dominated the late Eighties.
But the real guts of For Those About To Rock We Salute You were undoubtedly the rockers “I Put A Finger On You,” “C.O.D.” and the staggering title track, whose inspiration came from a rather unlikely source. “We were trying to find a good name for the album,” Angus told journalist Sylvie Simmons. “I remembered this book about Roman gladiators called For Those About To Die We Salute You. So we thought, For those about to rock…hmmm, sounds better than for those about to die! Actually, that song’s got a lot of meaning to it. It makes you feel a bit powerful, and I think that’s what rock and roll is all about.”
Millions agreed. Released worldwide in November 1981, For Those About To Rock We Salute You became AC/DC’s first No. 1 album in the U.S. The record demonstrated remarkable authority and intensity, and it proved a worthy successor to the multi-platinum Back In Black. Following its release, the band embarked on its first arena tour of North America, from late 1981 to early 1982. Determined to make the sold-out concerts memorable for everyone, including themselves, AC/DC stocked their stage show with a one-and-a-half ton bell that tolled ominously at the beginning of the set opener “Hell’s Bells,” and a phalanx of cannons that blasted the audience during “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You).”
But the best special effect, hands down, was AC/DC doing what they did best: play some of the tightest and most inspired music in the history of rock and roll. And for that, we salute them.
– Brad Tolinski
1. FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK (WE SALUTE YOU)
2. I PUT THE FINGER ON YOU
3. LET’S GET IT UP
4. INJECT THE VENOM
6. EVIL WALKS
8. BREAKING THE RULES
9. NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES
All songs written by Young, Young & Johnson
All titles published by J. Albert & Son (USA) Inc. (ASCAP)
Produced By Robert John “Mutt” Lange
Recording Engineer: Mark Dearnley
Mixing Engineer: Dave Thoener
Assistant Engineers: Andy Rose, Mark Haliday and Nigel Green
Recorded on Mobile One at H.I.S. Studio, Paris and at Family Studio, Paris, France
Originally Released as Atlantic 11111 on November 20, 1981
Thanks to Phil (Springfield) and Atlantic.
Digitally Remastered from the original master tapes by George Marino at Sterling Sound
Mastering Supervision: Mike Fraser and Al Quaglieri
Digital Assembly: UE Nastasi
Reissue Booklet Design: SMAY Vision
Photography: Ross Halfin/Idols: inside digipak (from original LP), pages 2-4, 6 (right), 8-9, booklet back cover;
Joe Sia/Starfile: pages 5, 6 (left), 13 (middle, bottom & right photos);
Claude Gassian: pages 7, 10, 14;
Pierre Terrasson: page 11;
Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve: pages 12, 13 (top);
William Hames: page 15
Additional artifacts courtesy Albert Productions and Arnaud Durieux.
This CD takes advantage of ConnecteD technology and will work as a key to unlock exclusive bonus music, videos, photos and more at www.acdcrocks.com
© 1981, 2003 Leidseplein Presse B.V./ (P) 1981 Leidseplein Presse B.V./ Manufactured by Columbia Records, A Division of Sony Music/ 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211/ “Columbia” Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. Marca Registrada/ WARNING: All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
This package consists of previously released material.