Contact Us

30 Years Ago: AC/DC Releases ‘Flick of the Switch’

Sony Music

AC/DC‘s storied career hit on a rough patch with their opinion-dividing ‘Flick of the Switch’ album, which was released on Aug. 15, 1983.

When AC/DC first began to lay down plans for recording their ninth studio album, their career was at its absolute commercial peak: flying high on the world-beating success of 1980′s flawless ‘Back in Black’ and its worthy successor, ‘For Those About to Rock.’ Both albums had kept the band touring and/or working for nearly two years straight (and the human toll would soon be felt in drummer Phil Rudd’s sad exit), so once they finally found the time to reflect on their next move, the Australian hard rock heroes decided it was time to go back to basics.

Fatefully, after three albums working with studio perfectionist Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange, the group decided to produce ‘Flick of the Switch’ themselves in a concerted effort to strip their songs of any lingering studio polish. To that end, AC/DC spent less than a month recording 10 new songs, and later drove their point home with the help of a spartan, startlingly white cover art, featuring nothing but a pencil sketch of Angus preparing to flick that giant electric switch.

Unfortunately, not benefitting from a producer’s helpful outside perspective also wound up stripping many of the songs of their top-shelf ideas, too, and it’s telling that none of ‘Flick of the Switch’s’ tunes – save for the electrifying ‘Guns for Hire’ and possibly the title track – have enjoyed much of an afterlife beyond the album’s supporting tour. Yes, brothers Malcolm and Angus Young still churned out a reliable batch of excellent riffs and solos on ‘This House is on Fire’ and ‘Landslide,’ but nothing on par with recent triumphs (other tracks like ‘Deep in the Hole’ and ‘Brainshake’ were virtually forgettable). Even more shocking was the sheer absence of energy in ‘Nervous Shakedown,’ ‘Badlands’ and, most damning of all, ‘Rising Power,’ which, any way you slice it, has got to be the least rousing album opener of AC/DC’s career.

At the end of the day, the best thing one could say in ‘Flick of the Switch’s’ defense is that, aesthetically-speaking, its quasi-religious bid for simplicity makes it the Brian Johnson lineup’s equivalent of ‘Powerage’ … but its songs sure don’t measure up to ‘Powerage’! And the final verdict on ‘Flick of the Switch’ was frankly handed down by AC/DC fans, who barely saw fit to nudge the album towards platinum sales over many slow-selling years to come, thus falling well short of the multi-platinum thresholds established by its predecessors.

For AC/DC, a long spell in the relative, merely Gold-certified wilderness would follow, interrupted by occasional spikes when they traded on old glories via the ‘Who Made Who’ soundtrack/greatest hits combo. Coincidentally, it was only when they finally reconciled themselves to working with outside, non-blood-relative producers that the AC/DC ship was turned fully around, beginning with 1990′s hit-laden ‘The Razor’s Edge.’

Next: Top 10 AC/DC Songs

Best of the Web

More From Around the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://ultimateclassicrock.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on Ultimate Classic Rock quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here.

Sign up for an account to comment, share your thoughts, and earn points to get great prizes.

Register on Ultimate Classic Rock quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!