Flick of the Switch

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Flick of the Switch
Ac-dc Flick of the Switch.JPG
Studio album by AC/DC
Released 15 August 1983
Recorded Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas, April 1983
Genre Hard rock
Length 37:02
Label Albert, Atlantic, Sony
Producer AC/DC
AC/DC chronology
For Those About to Rock We Salute You
(1981)
Flick of the Switch
(1983)
'74 Jailbreak
(1984)
Singles from Flick of The Switch
  1. "Guns For Hire"
    Released: 14 September 1983
  2. "Flick of the Switch"
    Released: 1983
  3. "Nervous Shakedown"
    Released: 27 July 1984

Flick of the Switch is an album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC. It was the band's eighth internationally released studio album and the ninth to be released in Australia. It was re-released in 2003 as part of the AC/DC Remasters series. It was the shortest studio album in the band's discography until the release of the studio album Rock or Bust, which came out in December 2014. All songs on Flick of the Switch were written by Malcolm Young (guitar), Angus Young (guitar), and Brian Johnson (vocals).

Recording[edit]

AC/DC returned to Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record their ninth album, the same studio where they had recorded Back in Black with Robert John "Mutt" Lange in 1980. Lange had produced the AC/DC's three previous releases but this time the band chose to produce themselves. On the recorded commentary on the album for the Live at Donington DVD, the band members state that the album was an attempt to make the band raw again, and were happy with the result.[1] In the book AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, AC/DC engineer Tony Platt recalls:

There was a genuine desire to get back to the basics with Flick of the Switch. There was a general kind of consensus that we needed to find some way of moving on a little bit. You know the Johnny Winter version of Muddy Waters' 'Mannish Boy?' Where they're all shouting in the background? Basically what Mal had said was that he wanted to try and get that feeling of being in a room with it all happening. I don't think it really worked entirely.

The album is notable for its "dry" sound, with very little of the polish that is evident on their previous effort For Those About to Rock We Salute You. In a 1983 interview that appears on ultimateguitar.com, Angus Young said of the LP, "We wanted this one as raw as possible. We wanted a natural, but big, sound for the guitars. We didn't want echoes and reverb going everywhere and noise eliminators and noise extractors." However, the album's birth was a troubled one; after having problems with Malcolm as well as drugs and alcohol,[2] drummer Phil Rudd was fired midway through the album's recording sessions, although he had completed his drum parts. According to Murray Engleheart's band memoir AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, Rudd had been struggling for some time; tour manager Ian Jeffrey recalls getting a phone call from a strung-out Rudd at four in the morning when the band was playing in Nebraska on the Back in Black tour and finding the drummer in his hotel room in a state of disorientated agitation. Eventually Rudd broke down crying and begged Jeffery "Don't tell Malcolm." Jeffery also reveals that Malcolm punched the drummer after he showed up two hours late for the band's show at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum and was unable to play the last song of the encore. "It was an absolutely stupid thing that finished it, but it had been brewing for a long, long time," Jeffery remembers.[3] "He got into drugs and got burned out," Malcolm later explained to KNAC.com in August 2000. Former Procol Harum drummer B.J. Wilson was hired to help complete the recording if needed, but his contributions were not used. The drum position was eventually filled by future Dio drummer Simon Wright after more than 700 auditions were held in the U.S. and UK.[4] Simon Kirke of Free and Bad Company fame, and Paul Thompson of Roxy Music were two of the drummers auditioned.[5] Wright appeared in the videos for "Flick of the Switch", "Nervous Shakedown",[6] and "Guns For Hire". A second video for "Nervous Shakedown" was also shot at a pre-show rehearsal at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. He also toured for the album, and is seen in the pro-shot video recordings from that period. The videos, which were shot in an aircraft-hangar sized area, seemed to reflect the stripped-down sound of the album and flew in the face of the growing infatuation that the music business was developing with the glitz of MTV.

The songs on Flick of the Switch contain much of the outlaw bravado ("Guns For Hire," "Badlands") and sexual innuendo ("Rising Power," "Deep in the Hole") that fans had come to expect from the Australian rockers. "Badlands" features guitarist Angus Young playing slide guitar, a rarity on record. The song "Bedlam in Belgium" was inspired by the band's appearance at Kontich when a riot nearly broke out when police tried to close down the show after the band allegedly ignored a strict 11 p.m. curfew.[7] On tour in support of the album, "Guns For Hire" was the set opener. The tour resulted in more upheaval in the band's inner circle when Malcolm, frustrated by mixed reviews for Flick of the Switch and dwindling audience numbers in certain cities, fired tour manager Ian Jeffrey. In his Bon Scott memoir Highway to Hell, author Clinton Walker observes:

...when the band reemerged in August 1983, with the album Flick of the Switch, they found they weren't able to just pick up where they'd left off. The production credit the album bore, to Malcolm and Angus themselves, was merely the tip of the iceberg of a purging the pair had effected throughout the entire band and its infrastructure. It's a classic syndrome: the successful campaigner who fears his own troops. But Malcolm and Angus never trusted anyone anyway. They sacked practically everybody: Mutt Lange, who had artisically engineered their breakthrough,; drummer Phil Rudd; Peter Mensch, who had himself usurped Michael Brown, even de-facto photographer Robert Ellis was ousted. The replacement of Rudd by Englishman Simon Wright meant that there wasn't an Australian-born member left in the band.

Album cover[edit]

The Flick of the Switch cover features a simple, pencil-drawn picture of Angus that he himself had originally sketched out to reflect the simple, raw approach of the album, and Atlantic Records hated it. [8] Angus had also wanted the album graphics to be embossed the same way that Back in Black had been but, according to Ian Jeffrey, Atlantic did not want to spend the money because they believed the album contained no hit singles. [9]

Reception[edit]

Recorded shortly after their 1982 European Tour at the beginning of 1983, the album was originally released with little promotion in the US on 15 August 1983. The album reached #4 in UK and #15 in the US, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA.[10] In his original Rolling Stone review, David Fricke noted, "Produced by the band, Flick of the Switch isn't quite the monster blowout that 1980's Back in Black was, and the Young's retooling of old riffs for new hits also teeters on self-plagiarism at times." Steve Huey of AllMusic observes, "As perhaps indicated by the record's idiotic original title, the utterly generic I Like to Rock, AC/DC seemed to be running out of ideas at an alarming rate, and their record sales began to reflect that fact." Malcolm Young later said of the LP, "It was thrown together real quick. I wouldn't say it's a great album..." [11]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars link
Blender 2/5 stars link[dead link]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars link

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson

No. Title Length
1. "Rising Power"   3:43
2. "This House Is on Fire"   3:23
3. "Flick of the Switch"   3:13
4. "Nervous Shakedown"   4:27
5. "Landslide"   3:57
6. "Guns for Hire"   3:24
7. "Deep in the Hole"   3:19
8. "Bedlam in Belgium"   3:52
9. "Badlands"   3:38
10. "Brain Shake"   4:00

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Peak Position
1983 Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart
3
1983 US Billboard The 200 Albums Chart
15
1983 UK Albums Chart
4

Certification[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[12] 3× Platinum 210,000^
United States (RIAA)[10] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Malcolm and Angus, Live At Donington DVD, Flick Of the Switch Review
  2. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. pp. 366–367. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  3. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. p. 367. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  4. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. p. 368. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  5. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. p. 367. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  6. ^ Flick of the Switch and Nervous Shakedown Videos, Family Jewels DVD, 2005
  7. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. p. 221. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  8. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. p. 370. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  9. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. p. 370. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  10. ^ a b "American album certifications – AC/DC – Flick of the Switch". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  11. ^ Engleheart, Murray & Arnaud Durieux (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll. p. 370. ISBN 0-7322-8383-3. 
  12. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2013 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 

External links[edit]

  • Lyrics on AC/DC's official website