Look, I’m not going to lie – I really don’t have a lot of time for Warrnambool’s greatest contribution to the world of Rock n’Roll, Airbourne.
In the early eighties a band of chancers from somewhere up North called Spider took a punt on England’s (then) greatest-living boogie merchants Status Quo giving it a rest in the (then) very near future and decided to purloin Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt‘s moves and sounds lock, stock and two smokin’ telecasters. The devious old buggers sucked them in even to the point of playing a series of farewell shows in 1984, a tour which continues to this day… Spider limped off after two albums and some sort of sponsorship deal with the British Tea Board, teles more squiblike than anything close to smokin’…
The point I’m trying to make is we didn’t need Spider and, I myself, don’t need Airbourne either. Granted, they’ve made a better fist of co-existing with their objects of affection – in this case AC/DC, like you weren’t already aware – with Boneshaker being their fifth album of out and out idol tribute; And, as it goes, I happen to think it’s the best thing they’ve ever put out, thanks in large, I think, to the good offices of producer Dave Cobb (you may know him from his work with Chris Cornell and Shooter Jennings), who has stripped back the metal portion of Airbourne’s attack and offers a stripped back sound that’s somewhere between the out and out fire of Let There Be Rock and the more spartan stylings of Flick Of The Switch. The band, too, help by occasionally throwing in a few non Young-sounding bits and pieces. Best track This Is Our City, for instance and Angus string-slides notwithsatnding, actually sounds like an invigorating mix of The Quireboys and Long Stick Goes Boom-era Krokus. Unlikely, I know, but it works.
At this stage in the game anything I say won’t make a difference to your standpoint as far as the Marmite music of Airbourne is concerned. If you’re already in the market for another album from Joel O’Keefe and company, by all means, go for your life. But while you’re in the record shop make sure you pick up the new album by British rockers Burnt Out Wreck – it’s called This Is Hell – and see how this kinda schtick should really be done.
Boneshaker is out now.