Return to base: hard rock heroes from Oz uncover their roots to expand on their intense start and bring it to present tense.
Perhaps, all attempts to approach one’s classic album anew in a studio – as opposed to playing an LP in its entirety in concert – must be prohibited, but this Aussie bunch never gave a shit about such suggestions. Hence the title of their eighth effort that directs the band back to where they took off from, to their 1978 self-titled debut, the deliciously heavy, hit-spawning effort which, ostensibly, should benefit from a mature-perspective method. Despite singer Angry Anderson showing no sign of metal fatigue at 72 years of age, even though his swagger’s reined in now, and eager to prove the ensemble’s latest line-up can measure up to the quintet of yore, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reasons to rewrite history, yet the end results prove otherwise.
Shuffled around for a punchier feel, old numbers are so much more grounded here, and the players are brilliant indeed, padding out AA’s powerful roar of “Freedom!” and laying tasty bluesy licks thick, but loose, over “Rock N’ Roll Outlaw” (as the record was called in some markets) and “Bad Boy For Love” whose 7-minute fresh cuts are twice as long, and twice as impressive as the original versions. While the band’s songs always sounded like cousins to both “New Rose” and “Róisín Dubh” – prone to punk outburst and epic storytelling – their upgrade added depth to familiar tunes, thanks to the twine of Dai Pritchard’s slide and Bob Spencer’s guitar and the rumble courtesy of former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans. This may not significantly affect “The Butcher And Fast Eddy” that’s cinematic in any case, yet “One Of The Boys” will grab the listener by the lapels to let go only when classic rock ‘n’ roll quotes tagged onto “Nice Boys” fade away, whereas live favorites “Snow Queen” and “Sweet Love” deliver another blow to nostalgia.
Still, for all the frenetic drive of “T.V.” which fires on all cylinders to target our paranoid period, it’s the ballad bonus of “Rosetta” – penned in the mid-’70s and never committed to tape – that exposes the veterans’ might. Which is why the cover of “Outlaws” doesn’t need color as “Rose Tattoo” did: the former has brightness on the inside, and the latter wore the patch on the outside, but the experience brought home the heft the youthfulness couldn’t lift, making this time-travel a great achievement.