Just not enough hooks to generate a lot of interest in repeated listens

It’s been a strange old year for the hoary rock beast that is AC/DC but like the true campaigners they are they’ve merely put their collective heads down and gone straight back to work, cranking out a whole new album in about the same time it takes most bands to just rehearse for one.

The result is a short, immediate collection of tracks with most lasting barely three minutes – in fact Rock or Bust is so brief all eleven tracks take up slightly more than half an hour. Like most of their work from the last few decades, it’s still a case of mostly filler but there are a few surprises, such as ‘Hard Times’ with its sprightly swing vibe and the almost street-level blues of ‘Rock the House’. The title cut is as good as it really gets though. The riff is hard-as-nails, reminiscent of some of those from Back in Black and Brian Johnson sounds remarkably good for a bloke who’s been screaming his tits off for 34 years. It’s a blunt, hard-hitting rock song that defines everything AC/DC is about, but Rock or Bust literally peaks there. The rest of the songs are mostly ok, with those previously mentioned and ‘Sweet Candy’ the only ones that reach any heights, although their overall brevity and Johnson’s more gravelly vocal approach make even the lesser tracks here rather listenable if not particularly memorable. Even on such a short record, there just aren’t enough hooks to generate a lot of interest in repeated listens, but that’s been the AC/DC story now for so long that should be as much of a surprise as their music itself. It would be churlish to suggest that Rock or Bust is a terrible record, or even a bad one, it just isn’t very special – if this is to be the last hurrah though there are much worse ways they could have gone out.

1. Rock or Bust
2. Play Ball
3. Rock the Night Away
4. Miss Adventure
5. Dogs of War
6. Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
7. Hard Times
8. Baptism of Fire
9. Rock the House
10. Sweet Candy
11. Emission Control