http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/8b347c8f9790bf9dc7090d9c60d4d5b907ef06d6.jpg Ballbreaker



Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 2 0
November 16, 1995

If a lull occurs at your next party, here's a way to liven things up: Play a lyric from AC/DC's 16th album, then have guests guess the next line before singer Brian Johnson sings it. Take "Cover You in Oil," for example: "Cover you in oil! Cover you in oil!" What would be the natural next line? "My love is at full boil," perhaps? "My snake will soon uncoil"? Actually, it's "Let me cover you in oil."

Look, these lads have never been subtle. On Ballbreaker, their first studio album after a five-year hiatus, AC/DC deliver the same goods they've delivered for 21 years: fist-pumpin' riffs, the dual-guitar assault of brothers Angus and Malcolm Young and lyrics rife with double-entendres. Hell, they're practically single-entendres. Consider this zinger from "The Honey Roll": "Honey roll over and lettuce on top." That's one of the album's better tracks.

Well, there are a few vague fugitive-guy-runnin'-from-the-law songs here ("Burnin' Alive," "The Furor"), but most tracks are about gettin' it on. "Hard As a Rock" (a line sung 21 times) is vintage AC/DC, from the comfy, familiar head-banging groove to forehead-slapping lines like "Her hot potatoes will elevate you." Overall, Ballbreaker is tighter and slightly cleaner sounding than the group's last studio album, the muddy and plodding Razor's Edge. The boys seem to be going for a bluesier feel, particularly on "Boogie Man" and the thumping let's-partay anthem "Whiskey on the Rocks." Other than that, there are no surprises except that Johnson's banshee vocals are even more shrill these days.

Have AC/DC written another "You Shook Me All Night Long"? No. Do they deliver guilty-pleasure metal like no other hard-rock band? Yup. Their longevity can be credited to two factors: nostalgia and the fact that AC/DC still view the world through the mind of a horny 15-year-old. God knows there's more than enough of them to go around.

Or, as the boys put it in "Caught With Your Pants Down," "Wanna dance, wanna sing/Whip you with that lickin' thing."

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Santa Monica”

    Everclear | 1996

    After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

    More Song Stories entries »