Classic Albums: AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap


So it was 1981. I was across the street at my neighbor Anthony’s house. He was a year older, and a thousand times cooler than me (not hard to be, really), plus his taste in music was kickass. He was my introduction to Van Halen, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC before MTV, and I knew if I saw him and his Dad pull up with a bag from either The Wiz, Sam Goody, or Crazy Eddie that my phone was gonna ring a few minutes later and I’d be over there SECONDS later, staring wide-eyed at whatever album covers he’d brought home. On this particular occasion, I found myself glued to AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap as it spun on his turntable. The black bars over the faces made everyone seem creepy, yet I couldn’t look away. Not to mention the music is amazing from start to finish, but more on that in a sec.

Fast forward to 1988. I didn’t really hang with Anthony anymore, and I never got my own copy of Dirty Deeds. Until that summer, when Joey let me borrow his LP so I could make a tape of it. As soon as that needle dropped, I was eight years old again, I tell you what. There really isn’t anything more I can say about that landmark opening riff of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”; it fucking speaks for itself! And it still gets cranked up to 11 if radio plays it ‘round these parts. “Love at First Feel” has one of the best sing-along choruses, coupled with a seriously hot guitar lick for your listening pleasure. And then…and then we get to “Big Balls”. I mean, come on. So deliciously tongue-in-cheek and over the top that it’s still a favorite to this day.

This album is great too, because it also has my favorite version of “Rocker”. It sounds like the whole band is on speed, and I just can’t get enough of it. “Problem Child” of course features another badass riff from the Angus and Malcolm Young Machine, and brings us to the end of side one. “There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’” opens side two with a cool blues progression that’s a foot-stompin’ bar song if ever I heard one. The witty, jaded lyrics to “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)” are one of the things that make it work so well, along with a simple guitar pattern that sticks in your head, particularly when it speeds up at the four minute mark. When I would listen to my dubbed copy at night in bed I always looked forward to this part.

Now, I’ve been listening to AC/DC a loooong time, and I REFUSE to get involved in the whole which version is better nonsense regarding their singers. Both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson did some amazing work in this band. However…my 100% USDA Prime All-Time Favorite AC/DC Song is without a doubt “Ride On”. This is another one of those songs that would come to me in the night, like the bad kid your parents told you not to hang with, but you still snuck out to go get into mischief with him while the town slept. Everybody had that one friend, or maybe you WERE that friend. Well, that’s “Ride On” to me. If you don’t see it, try listening with your headphones, or friggin’ ear buds, or whatever the hell people use these days!! Close your eyes and listen to Bon’s pained and world-weary singing, and Angus’s solo that leaves its heart right there on the floor at the end, you’ll get it.

Dirty little number “Squealer” ends the album with a cool chanted chorus and some more hot guitar work, bringing this little joyride to a close, yet for me, it never ended there. I always had to go back to the beginning and play it again. Hell as I write this now, I’m on my third spin of the record today. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was, is, and always will be my favorite AC/DC record, and it also has the distinction of being one of my go-to listens on that fateful Ireland trip in summer ’88, but we’ve revisited Belfast enough this year. Maybe again in 2014, hmmm? Either way, this is a perfect introductory album for a novice, and if you’re a seasoned pro, then this one should already be in your collection.   ~dc

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