Skip to main content

Krokus: One Vice At A Time - Album Of The Week Club review

Can we get through Krokus's One Vice At A Time album without mentioning AC/DC? Of course we can't!

Krokus - One Vice At A Time cover art
(Image: © Arista)
Krokus: One Vice At A Time

Krokus - One Vice At A Time cover art

(Image credit: Arista)

Long Stick Goes Boom
Bad Boys, Rag Dolls
Playin' The Outlaw
To The Top
Down The Drain
American Woman
I'm On The Run
Save Me
Rock 'N' Roll

When it comes to Krokus, the elephant in the room – that singer Marc Storace’s voice made Krokus sound like AC/DC’s Swiss cousins – was swiftly noted by journalists and fans. And although only the media really had a serious problem with that, it would dog the group for their entire career. 

“We took those comments as a compliment,” founder Chris von Rohr told us. “But Krokus also did ballads. Compare the two bands all you like and you’ll only get half of the truth.” 

Back in 1980 Storace, rather disingenuously, told Sounds: “People are comparing me to David Lee Roth and Bon Scott, but I’ve never been influenced by them. I couldn’t whistle one note of a Van Halen tune, and AC/DC never turned me on."

Unlikely as this sounds - one Krokus song, Shy Kid, had almost identical opening lines to those sung by Scott on AC/DC’s 1976 blues Ride On - the strength of the band's material meant they deserved to be taken seriously, and they may just have peaked on 1982's One Vice At A Time.

Undeniably, yes, it sounded like AC/DC. But with smokin’ tracks such as Long Stick Goes BoomPlayin’ The Outlaw and To The Top, one could be forgiven for thinking it was better than any album AC/DC made after For Those About To Rock

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

Join the group now.

Alt

Other albums released in March 1982

  • Windows - Charlie Daniels Band
  • Hex Enduction Hour - The Fall
  • The Gift - The Jam
  • Asia - Asia
  • Shoot Out the Lights - Richard and Linda Thompson
  • Five Miles Out - Mike Oldfield
  • The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden
  • Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet - Rick Springfield
  • The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads - Talking Heads
  • The Blurred Crusade - The Church
  • Angst in My Pants - Sparks
  • Blackout - Scorpions
  • Filth Hounds of Hades - Tank
  • Bill Wyman - Bill Wyman
  • Walk Among Us - The Misfits

Alt

What they said...

"If you’re looking for any kind of power ballad on here forget about it. This album is recorded roughly around the edges. The guitars are raw sounding basically a dry recording not an overproduced album by any stretch of the imagination. When you have a drummer that goes by the name of Freddy Steady (I shit you not) you know the beat is going to be in the pocket." (Thunder Bay Area Rock)

"Krokus's detractors would argue that One Vice at a Time is the work of a poor man's AC/DC -- and, to be sure, this 1982 LP is formulaic and contrived. But while Krokus wasn't easy to respect or admire, it was easy to like. AC/DC-minded tunes like Save Me and Long Stick Goes Boom aren't very imaginative, but they're infectious and enjoyable nonetheless." (AllMusic)

"In 1980, Krokus started their AC/DC worship, with the amazing Metal Rendez-Vouz album. The follow up, Hardware, was even more inspired by the Australian band, even if it was a little weaker, and it all culminated into this little gem called One Vice At A Time. You see, no other Krokus albums sounds this much like AC/DC. You might think that it is a bad thing to copy a band in this manner, and maybe you're right, but to be honest, by 1982 AC/DC sure could need a replacement." (Rate Your Music)

Alt

What you said...

John Davidson: At the time I ignored this as an AC/DC knock off. But listening to it today, it's a fun album

Still a knock off, but if you are going to ape the greats this is the way to do it. Straight-up blues based riff rock chuggers played loud.

Long Stick Goes Boom borrows both the lyrical and musical themes from the antipodean greats. This is pure Bon Scott era wordplay set to a song structure that starts like RiffRaff before turning towards Love Hungry Man. Playin the Outlaw pretends it is going to be Rainbow-esque medieval rock before once again turning to Powerage for its real inspiration.

The other song worth mentioning specifically is a creditable cover of the Guess Who’s American Woman. They give it plenty of welly and amp up the riffs over the original to good effect.

Alongside the simple pleasure of listening to the chugging riffs and squealing throaty vocal is the task of spotting which AC/DC tune has been cribbed, pillaged and homaged in each of the songs.

To be fair this is a better version of AC/DC than AC/DC were during the period so I really shouldn’t complain.

Krokus's next album Headhunter is a more varied slice of heavy metal, more in line with Judas Priest or Scorpions than AC/DC so perhaps the splurge of One Vice at a Time got that out of their systems.

Regardless, Vice is an enjoyable, if not entirely original, album that sets the foot tapping and the head nodding. Who can really ask for more? 7/10

Reid Brooks: Bon had been gone two years. A friend tells me about this guy who sounded just like him. I thought "yeah right". Then he played me Long Stick. Wow. AC/DC guitar riff and Bon's scream and snarl, I was hooked. However, as I matured, I think the album is a bit adolescent, hence the appeal to my adolescent self (17 at the time). 

It has some dead wood in Bad Boys, Down The Drain, I'm Lookin' At You. Also, some typically lame words. But I still crank the other songs to this day. I particularly like Playin' the Outlaw, lyrics and all. And their American Woman is superior to the original, and any other cover of it that came along. It almost has a march tempo to it and it's addicting to me. Excellent vocal performance, great guitar tone, nice melodic solo, I love it.

Headhunter is far superior, but One Vice was my intro to the band. 7/10

Mike Canoe: Yes, Krokus sounds a lot like AC/DC on One Vice At A Time. They aren't the first club pick to copy another band's sound. Arguably, they're not the first club pick to copy AC/DC's sound - this year.

For me, there's a lot to like about Krokus. Singer Marc Storace has one of hard rock's great voices. It has plenty of grit and gravel but also enough power to crumble concrete. He has a good foil in lead guitarist Fernando Von Arb, who can make his guitar riff and squeal with the best. Along with bassist Chris Von Rohr, they tend to write short punchy songs, heavy on chorus and perfect for partying.

The album kicks off with possibly their signature tune, One Stick Goes Boom - and, yes, I am a big fan of the even better Headhunter album, but this will always be the tune I use to introduce people to Krokus. Unless it's American Woman, in my opinion one of the greatest cover songs of all time. It takes the admittedly great but slightly sinister Guess Who song and turns it into a strutting majestic peacock, full of the grandeur and power of Krokus at its best.

Of the rest, I enjoy Bad Boys And Rag Dolls, To The Top, I'm On the Run, and the bait and switch of Playin' the Outlaw, which teases you with some power ballad guitar before going full throttle and featuring both Storace and Von Arb and their screamiest.

Krokus spent most of its heyday following the prevailing hard rock trends. I'm OK with that. Your favourite band can only put out so much music at one time. Krokus may have been more imitators than innovators, but they did it with skill and flair. One Vice At A Time is a very fun hard rock album, even if you feel like you've heard a lot of it before.

Robert Dunn: I can only assume that the vice this album is referring to is theft? This is AC/DC without the wit or songwriting craft, a relentless and never-changing rhythm section with a few power chords on top, and a singer who wants to be Bon Scott so much it hurts. Even the drum intro to the last song, Rock 'N' Roll, is lifted straight from the Led Zeppelin song of the same name - I will give them the benefit of the doubt and call it a homage. 

Funnily enough, the last 45 seconds of Rock 'N' Roll were the most interesting bit if the album musically, they actually tried something a bit different. Now I like a bit of no-nonsense riffing but this just seemed to be more of the same with every song, the standout track being the cover of American Woman, not a patch on the Guess Who's original though. 

15 year old me would probably have loved it, maybe I am listening to it with an old man's ears, so I will close by saying that they are probably much better live than on vinyl, which is how it should be. Actually now I think about it I think I saw these guys supporting Rainbow many years ago, the fact I am struggling to remember probably says it all. Solid but unremarkable.

Greg Schwepe: So, big Spoiler Alert here. I guarantee that over half the reviews of Krokus’s album One Vice At A Time this week (mine included) will contain the phrases “AC/DC clone”, “sounds like AC/DC”, or “AC/DC imitators”, or something of that ilk. And on this album between vocalist Marc Storace’s Bon-like wail and the eerily similar Angus and Malcolm guitar styles, how can these Swiss metallers not sound like that band from Down Under?

But this begs the question, is sounding like AC/DC a bad thing? I say NO! Bring it on. Here you have Krokus wearing their influence on their sleeves. Or in this case, probably the back of their patch covered denim jackets, since the sleeves have probably been cut off.

Had definitely heard of Krokus before this, but only really knew Long Stick Goes Boom and Screaming In The Night. That one was in constant rotation one summer on the radio during college and would hear multiple times a day during my summer painting jobs. Krokus is standard early 80’s old school metal. Party, rock-out music, all fun. Windows down, sunroof open, crank it up and play your favourite “air” instrument while in your car. Which I did on my five minute drive to work one morning after seeing this was the album choice. Even though it’s full-on Autumn (chilly and dark in the morning) here in the Midwest of the USA, I opened the sunroof (heater on!) and blared this while going out the subdivision. By the time I hit the parking garage at work this Swiss band had got me pumped to sit in front of a computer screen for 8 hours!

The album kicks off with Long Stick Goes Boom and right away I could hear the riff from the live version of Riff Raff. But hey, that’s OK. Flattery, you know. Next up is Bad Boys, Rag Dolls followed by Playin’ the Outlaw. All three set the stage nicely for the rest of the album.

We also get a nice cover of American Woman. For the most part, any cover where there is more distortion than the original usually can’t go wrong. And we get the whole “Musical U.N.” thing going on here; a Swiss band sounding like an Australian one while doing a song by a Canadian band that’s about a woman from America. That's a lot of passports being stamped...

AC/DC copying aside, I really liked this album. So much that right after I listened to this all the way through, I played the next two in their catalogue; Headhunter and The Blitz. And these, Spoiler Alert, sound nothing like AC/DC. Now these are a little more metal. Both are excellent albums too. If the whole AC/DC thing turned you off, check out the rest of their catalogue where the band sets their own stage.

Keith Jenkin: Loud, dumb and lots of fun, but I must admit it has been a very long time since I last took it off the shelf and played it.

Dave Hinsley: This is great! Not sure how I missed this band before! Very AC DC, I like it! Great choice for album of the week! I'll check out their other stuff as well. 

Michael Møller Nielsen: This is the best album AC/DC didn't make and Headhunter is the best album Judas Priest didn't make

Andrew Bramah: Krokus came out with One Vice At A Time when AC/DC were not great.

Absolutely killer production by Tony Platt. Huge guitar sound window smashing pounding bass and drums. Simple catchy songs played at full throttle. Even a cracking cover of American Woman that shames the wimpy Lenny Kravitz version. An absolute classic album.

Darren Burris: It’s good 80s rock. Long Stick Goes Boom is very AC/DC-inspired. Three or four other good ones on here. I like it. Takes me back to high school. This one and Headhunter are their two best in my opinion.

Fred van der Tuuk: It's more that AC/DC would like to sound like Krokus. One Vice is a rock standard with songs like To The Top.

Alex Hayes: So, Switzerland's Krokus. That's where Airbourne took their inspiration from. I've often wondered. Ahem.

I'm afraid that One Vice At A Time is about as 'I can take it or leave it, I'm genuinely not arsed' an album as it can possibly get for me. There's nothing fundamentally wrong here. The songs are decent enough, if not especially memorable, and the musicians all go about their tasks with the appropriate levels of professionalism and gusto. The whole thing is just way too 'on the nose' for me though.

Whenever I come across this kind of blatant AC/DC emulation, my response is always the same, 'Meh, I'd rather be listening to Highway To Hell'. No-one does AC/DC like AC/DC, and it's almost a pointless folly to even try. When it comes to this particular brand of raucous rock'n'roll, there will only ever be one winner. Every. Single. Time.

Yes, that even includes AC/DC's famous rough patch in the early 80s. Flick Of The Switch may well be one of the lesser inspired 37 minutes in Acca Dacca history, but I'd still take it over One Vice At A Time. The former is still the genuine article, the latter a bit of a knock-off. An enjoyable knock-off in places maybe, but a knock-off nevertheless.

Oh, and the band's take on American Woman probably inherits the (no doubt much coveted) title of 'Most Redundant Cover Version' in Classic Rock Album Of The Week Club history, stealing in and snatching it away from The Firm's mundane You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' from a few months ago.

I hate, hate, hate throwing negativity around these here parts, but One Vice At A Time is simply too derivative for me to get excited about it. There's only one AC/DC for me, sorry Krokus.

Alt

Final Score: 7.47 (90 votes cast, with a total score of 673)

Join the Album Of The Week Club on Facebook to join in. The history of rock, one album at a time.

Classic Rock is the online home of the world's best rock'n'roll magazine. We bring you breaking news, exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes features, as well as unrivalled access to the biggest names in rock music; from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple, Guns N’ Roses to the Rolling Stones, AC/DC to the Sex Pistols, and everything in between. Our expert writers bring you the very best on established and emerging bands plus everything you need to know about the mightiest new music releases.