Sound — 10
One of the most common cliches used in rock music both today and its childhood years back in the 60s is the saying "sex, drugs and rock and roll." Well, if there was one album that truly, truly deserves to be labeled with that grand slogan it is High Voltage. The album is one hard rock song after another; theres no pauses for folk-inspired acoustic ballads or experimental jazz poetry, no attempts to show off the versatility of the band with alternate genres or styles, just pure rock. The music is extremely rhythm based, thanks to Malcom Young, an excellent riff writer whose sound is on par with that of a rhino in presence and sheer musical weight. The rhythm guitar is complemented by the solid (albeit simple) drumming of Phil Rudd. The only thing the album really lacks is good bass support, as it is usually overpowered by the rhythm guitar and leads. Speaking of leads, what really made not only this album but all early AC/DC was the two devil frontmen: lead guitar Angus Young and lead vocals Bon Scott. Because of the solid, catchy and blocky rhythm section, Mr. Young is able to play an astoundingly brilliant lead and really does. With bluesy guitar solos and melodies, they work so well together its almost as if brothers were playing (wait a second...?). As for lead vocals, the most reckognizable voice in rock, Bon Scott, delivers a fantastic performance full of screeching and seductive pitch changes. Overall, the different pieces of this band are all prime examples of hard rock tone and technique that, when combined, deliver the musical equivalent of a freight train.
Lyrics — 8
This album established to the world that AC/DC was about rock. There was no deep meanings, no complicated allegories, no distant metaphors, it was purely about glamour, sex, money, fame, and drugs. Whether it`s the fast, strong, challenging lyrics of T.N.T, the powerful chorus of Gonna Be a Rock n Roll Singer, or the provocative growling of The Jack (which is about as deep as the songs get; it is understandable innuendo. Lets just say its not about playing cards), all the lyrics are catchy, sung with perfectly fitting emotion, and have lines worth quoting in the rock and roll history books. The only reason I give it a 4 is the lack of meaning. While they perfectly complement the style, on their own they arent premiere examples of songwriting.
Overall Impression — 10
If you're looking for a place to get into AC/DC, this is definitely your golden gate. I, along with many other fans, consider it the pinnacle of AC/DC greatness; all (nearly all) of the songs could be hit singles, yet the album progresses amazingly as a whole. Although I have already pointed out its merits and demerits, I think the thing that makes this album so great is it does not fall into the pittraps so many others do; theres no trying to reach a wider audience with more variety and no outside influence. The only real problem is, with a band that relies so much on rhythm, the bass is frequently underused. The album is definitely worth a purchase and repurchase, be it needed, if only for the remastered art and booklet. In short: get it. Now. As a last notable fact, this album is a complimation of nearly all the songs released on the first 2 AC/DC albums: T.N.T and High Voltage, which were only marketed and distributed in Australia during the band's beggining. All the tracks that were not released on this can be heard on 74' Jailbreak.