AC/DC is just like peanut butter. If you have a severely low tolerance to what they do, it’s liable to make you break out in hives. If you like it, however, you’re all over it. And from brand to brand, as the group is from album to album, you know exactly what you’re going to get and you don’t mind. AC/DC has never pulled an orchestral concept album or a swinging disco track out from underneath Angus Young’s schoolboy cap, and odds are good that if they continue on beyond the forthcoming album Rock Or Bust, they never will. At this point I don’t think their fans would allow it.
So it comes as no surprise in any way, shape, or form that the lead single from the album, “Play Ball” is AC/DC as AC/DC. No, Brian Johnson doesn’t sound quite as ferocious and hell-bound as he used to, thanks to Father Time and hard living, but in a weird way that works for him. The same was true for the last album from the band, 2008’s Black Ice. Time has also found the group’s nasty, double entendre-laden excuses for lyrics becoming quaint (almost). We have just survived what pop critics have dubbed “The Summer Of Ass” with Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”, Megan Trainor’s “All About The Bass”, and others extolling the virtue of the butt and what can be done with it. In some twisted way, AC/DC has become like Wilfred Brimley in the movie Cocoon, who is thrilled and amazed that he can get erections again.
None of this really matters, as AC/DC has always been about attitude and volume. It is not about how they are appropriating (or misappropriating) blues-rock stereotypes, or whether they are or aren’t slipping trenchant social commentary into their narratives of telling some sweet young thing to “play ball.” (They aren’t.) The godfathers of stripper rock are back, doing stripper rock. If you like them, you’ll love it. If you don’t, then nothing’s going to change your mind.