Gazing at the original Australian album cover, one gets the sense that AC/DC looked and lived exactly as they sounded on record; that is hard living, hard drinking working class lads whose only chance for a better life was to form a rock ‘n’ roll band and live by rules of their own. Good idea, at least in theory, but often the reality is very different to the dream. Luckily for them, guitarist Angus Young had a knack for churning out simple, easily remembered riffs, and Bon Scott, whose tough as nails vocals gave his often witty, street wise lyrics a real authenticity few if any other singers have been able to match. Backed by bassist Mark Evans, drummer Phil Rudd and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, the band were virtually bullet proof on stage and off, to the extent that not even Sharpies would have dared take them on.
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was AC/DC’s third album, following in the practice of delivering songs filled with filthy humour and double entendres as only Bon and the boys knew how. The title track is all hard-hitting bank robber riffs and insistent beats, giving the song an element of danger. The tune itself is similar to previous numbers such as “T.N.T” and “High Voltage”, in that tradition of writing non-cerebral rockers for the masses. And on that level, “Dirty Deeds” most definitely succeeds. Other songs, such as “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting ‘Round to Be a Millionaire)”, “Problem Child”, and “There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’” are ripe with rebellious attitude.
The erotically themed “Squealer” has lyrics guaranteed to stir the imagination of many a teenage male, while “Big Balls” is probably about the funniest song Bon ever wrote. I won’t repeat any of the the words here – let’s just say that he doesn’t leave much to the imagination. “R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)” is another Neolithic rocker before slowing down the tempo quite considerably with “Ride On”, a quiet bluesy ballad, on which Bon reflects that all he has is an “empty bottle” and an “empty bed”.
Final track “Jailbreak” is easily the best song of the album, even if there’s nothing really new or inventive going on, because what the listener gets is simply more of that meat and potatoes guitar/bass/drums combination the world has come to love and can never get enough of it seems. I’m sure plenty of teenagers in the ‘70s adopted “Jailbreak” as an anthem for wanting to leave school or get away from their parents. It must be said that the chorus is as dumb as all shit, but addictive at the same time, and remains a testament to the band’s ability to get even the most snobbish of rock lovers tapping their feet and fingers.
No doubt this is an iconic album by one of Australia’s most iconic groups. Politically incorrect? Yep. Sleazy? You bet. Gratuitous and vulgar? No problem. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is the equivalent of a rock ‘n’ roll musical for Playboy, although fairly tame by today’s standards.