The Razors Edge (1990)
Producer Bruce Fairbairn, the man who had revitalised Aerosmith’s career three years before with Permanent Vacation, took Angus Young to one side: “I want you to sound like AC/DC when you were seventeen,” he said. Nowhere was that trademark sound captured better than on The Razors Edge’s opener, Thunderstruck. Introduced by an electrifying Angus Young riff, comprised of hammer-on and pull-off fingering on an open B string, the track builds dynamically using terrace chants and new drummer Chris Slade’s brutal but simplistic poundings to emerge as a state-of-the-art stadium leveller.
This simple premise was hammered home by Fire Your Guns and Moneytalks, the former built around a biting blues riff and classic single-entendre sex talk, the latter positioning Johnson as a sleazy Wall Street lothario (‘Hey little girl, you want it all/The furs, the diamonds, the painting on the wall’) – instantly addictive, it remains AC/DC’s highest-charting US single. The ominous-sounding title track, meanwhile, was that rarest of AC/DC songs, a rumination on global politics.
Not everything on The Razors Edge was so striking. Mistress For Christmas, inspired by Donald Trump, then making tabloid headlines for an extra-marital liaison with US actress Marla Maples, might be the single worst song the band have ever recorded, while you’d be hard pressed to find a single ’DC devotee who could sing you the chorus of Goodbye & Good Riddance To Bad Luck or the frantically funky Rock Your Heart Out. But, kicking off a decade that would see words such as ‘grunge’, ‘nu metal’ and ‘pop-punk’ enter the rock lexicon, The Razors Edge stands as AC/DC reclaiming their title of the world’s greatest hard rock band in the post-Appetite For Destruction landscape, with a hard-hitting, back-to-basics album.