Stiff Upper Lip is the fourteenth studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC. It was the band's thirteenth internationally released studio album and the fourteenth to be released in Australia. It was released on February 28, 2000. The album was co-produced by George Young, older brother of Malcolm and Angus Young and this was the last AC/DC album that he produced before his death in 2017. The album was re-released in the US on 17 April 2007 as part of the AC/DC Remasters series. It was re-released in the UK in 2005.
The Young brothers began writing songs for what would become Stiff Upper Lip in the summer of 1997 in London and the Netherlands with Malcolm on guitar and Angus on drums, and by February 1998 the songs were completed. The band had planned on recording a new album with CanadianBruce Fairbairn, who had produced the enormously successful The Razors Edge and AC/DC Live, but Fairbairn died in May 1999. The Youngs turned to their older brother George, who had produced 1988's Blow Up Your Video as well as the band's early albums with Harry Vanda, and Mike Fraser, who had co-produced 1995's Ballbreaker, to complete Stiff Upper Lip.
The album was recorded and mixed at Bryan Adams' Warehouse Studios in Vancouver, Canada between September and November 1999 with a total of 18 songs recorded in all. In 2000, bassist Cliff Williams remarked to VH1's Behind the Music, "It's a killer album. It was a very easy-to-record album in as much as Malcolm and Angus had everything ready to go, so we basically just had to come along and perform as best we could." According to Arnaud Durieux's memoir AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, Malcolm takes a rare guitar solo on "Can't Stand Still" while Angus does the backing vocals on "Hold Me Back." The album delves even deeper into the band's blues roots than its predecessor Ballbreaker and features a remarkably clean sound. In an interview with Alan Di Perna of Guitar World, singer Brian Johnson commented on working with George Young:
In the past he's always worked with Harry [Vanda]. Not detracting from Harry, but it was kinda streamlined this time. You had no one to answer to or discuss things with except Malcolm or Angus. We were working pretty hard this time actually, from about 11 in the morning until one the next morning sometimes. Saturdays as well. It was good, though. George always had a game plan. I hate it when you're hanging around waiting for the next decision. George always had it all worked out.
Angus Young explained in interviews that the concept behind the album title occurred to him when he was stuck in traffic one day and he began ruminating on how vital lips were in rock and roll culture, citing icons Elvis Presley and Mick Jagger, and carried a certain sneering defiance. He also noted that he had contributed to this tradition himself:
There was a bit of that and also with us there's always been a bit of humour, too. Even when we started, I used to always say, "I've got bigger lips than Jagger and I've got bigger lips than Presley when I stick them out." Actually, if you look on the Highway to Hell album, there's my lip stuck up there like this [curls his lip]. I remember when I was a kid I saw an early black-and-white movie of Brigitte Bardot and she had those pouting lips and you go, "Well, yeah! I like what she's serving!"
The album cover features a bronze statue of Angus Young, something that would be mimicked on tour in the form of a gigantic stage prop bearing his demonic likeness that was several storeys high. The three singles to be released from it were the title track, "Safe in New York City", and "Satellite Blues". These three songs plus "Meltdown" were played live on the subsequent world tour. In Australia, New Zealand and Europe, a special two-disc tour edition of Stiff Upper Lip was released by Albert Productions in January 2001. The album includes the Stiff Upper Lip disc, and a bonus disc with a non-album track, five live tracks recorded from a concert at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, Madrid, Spain in 1996, and three music videos.
Stiff Upper Lip rose to #7 on the U.S. Billboard chart and peaked at #12 in the United Kingdom. It hit #1 in Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Austria. It was better received by critics than Ballbreaker but was considered lacking in new ideas.
Stiff Upper Lip Live is the name of the live video released in 2001 by AC/DC, recorded on 14 June 2001, on their Stiff Upper Lip Tour at the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany. The track listing is as follows:
There was an original newsflash that was used for the European tour, but an alternate one was used instead for the film after the 9/11 attacks in New York City. However, the original newsflash was made available on the Bonus disc of the 2007 DVD Plug Me In.