AC/DC: High Voltage Rock 'n' Roll - The Ultimate Illustrated History By Phil Sutcliffe Voyageur Press, 224 pp., $35
A genuine coffee table book on the greatest exports to ever come from Down Under is cool enough, but the fact that the cover has a cut-out circle that allows you to "spin" Angus Young in the stage is pure design genius.
While clearly a clip job from previous sources, the book's just-the-facts text nevertheless tells AC/DC's complete story with enough general history for casual fans and details and great quotes for diehards.
Many of the best ones come from vocalist Bon Scott, often ironic in light of his "death by misadventure," such as "It's only rock 'n' roll and I like it. But I want to have a base...planes, hotels, groupies, booze, people, towns. They all scrape something from you."
And just try and suppress a knowing smile upon reading a report on guitarist Angus Young from one of his grade-school teachers: "His uniform is filthy, his knees are constantly bruised, his eyes blackened, his nose running."
As far as analysis goes, each AC/DC record has its own essay, right on up to their most recent effort, Black Ice, and its hugely successful tour.
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But the best reason to have this book (as with Sutcliffe's previous tome on Queen) are the incredible photos and illustrations: Hundreds of rare concert photos, record sleeves, gig flyers, memorabilia, documents and more. What a visual treat to see all of this stuff in one book.
Houston is only mentioned once, in conjunction with a group of Christians who protested the Aussies' October 12, 1985 show. If they only knew that the band's name originated not with any Satanic sentiment ("Anti Christ/Devil's Children" is one variation), but was inspired by the electrical abbreviation on the sewing machine of Angus and Malcolm Young's sister.
AC/DC is perhaps the least subtle band in rock history, and even its members joke that they've essentially been remaking the same album for 35 years. But for pure, bombastic, lustful, down-and-dirty rock, they're hard to beat.
The Ultimate Illustrated History is for fans of all vintage and calibers. And hip coffee tables.