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Review by Brad Green:
Itís a long way to the top, and youíre a long time six-feet under if you rock Ďní roll the way Bon Scott did. AC/DCís original frontman drank like a herd of mastodon at their favourite watering hole, and died at the age of 33 as a result. In the meantime he sang like a primitive pachyderm raising its proboscis in the air, letting out a joyful bellow at having quenched its thirst, and discovering it had perfect pitch. There wasnít anything subtle about Scott in full roar, but he hit the notes, often impressively high ones, square on and with uncompromising ferocity.

Surprisingly, this soundtrack for a film about a group of AC/DC, and more particularly Bon Scott, devotees is rather light on the bandís songs. In fact, fans should be forewarned that thereís not a single AC/DC recording here. Not even the song that spawned the filmís title gets a guernsey. Instead the CD comprises covers of Long Way To The Top and TNT; a great track by Bon Scott with Fraternity (the band he fronted prior to AC/DC); a couple of selections from David Thrussellís film score; and a whole range of eclectic songs that have nothing to do with AC/DC or each other.†

These include a fine ballad by Audius and Carmel Marciti; a languid performance of Drop Kick Me Jesus (gotta love that lyric) by The Blackeyed Susans; and a longtime personal favourite, the Jim Steinmann-penned, Bonnie Tyler hit from the eighties, Total Eclipse Of The Heart. Itís one of the great power ballads but not perhaps the average hard rockerís choice of chart dynamite. On the other hand, everyone from AC/DC disciples to those who prefer their music at unplugged levels, should appreciate Hayseed Dixieís take on TNT. As their name suggests, this southern American tribute group interprets the AC/DC repertoire with a constant smirk at the whiskers, and an inherent suggestion that itís a long way to the top of the Appalachians if you want some pickiní and slidiní of the genuine bluegrass kind. These guys can certainly play their instruments and it is a testimony to the essential quality of AC/DC songs -- artful simplicity -- that such unlikely interpretations work so well.†

Another playful twist on a high voltage rock anthem is a Latin take on Smoke On The Water by Senor Coconut and his Orchestra, which is as wonderful as it is whacky; while more appropriate to context is a ripping cover of the Choirboyís Run To Paradise by David Campbell, son of that other legendary, Scottish-born Aussie pub rock icon, Jimmy Barnes. Killing Heidi who lay claim to being the most talented of the youthful alt-rock brigade in the contemporary local music scene also impress with their frenetic Take It, far more so alas, then the albumís leading track, a cover of Long Way To The Top by so-called supergroup The Jack. Featuring members of Grinspoon, Spiderbait, You Am I, 1200 Techniques, Living End and Sender -- names which donít exactly conjure ďsuperĒ in this scribeís mind -- the grungy ensemble do a reasonably faithful arrangement. Sadly, this isnít enough to rescue it from the fact that, in comparison to Bon Scott, the lead vocals sound like the death squawks of a pterodactyl crushed beneath a herd of rampaging mastodons after a night on the ice age juice.†

Published August 12, 2004

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TITLE: Thunderstruck
ID: 399700 116007
ARTISTS: The Jack; David Campbell; The Casanovas; Senor Coconut and his Orchestra; Audius and Carmel Merciti; Killing Heidi; Hayseed Dixie; Peggy Scott Adams; Bonnie Tyler; Europe; Scooter Lee; The Blackeyed Susans; Bon Scott and Fraternity
SCORE: David Thrussell and Francois Tetax

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