Sound — 10
Many people have never heard this album. Many people have never even heard OF this album. That's a shame. Because this album kicks ass. This was AC/DC's first "perfect album" (In my opinion. They have 4: "Powerage", "Highway to Hell", "Back In Black", and "For Those About To Rock".) One noticeable thing about this album is that compared to the previous album, "Let There Be Rock", and the other albums before it, the quality of sound is much clearer, much sharper, less woody. While that doesn't make the previous albums bad, it does make "Powerage" better than them. Angus Young seems to have really mastered the scales in this one, as in "High Voltage" his solos were much more simple, yet with each album, his solos became more complex, more difficult to play. Malcolm Young's guitar sounds much fuller in this album, and he seems to have mastered riff playing. Phil Rudd really shows his skills at drums in this one as well. Cliff Williams, who had been a part of only one other album, "Let There Be Rock", seems to have found his niche in the AC/DC sound quite easily. The entire album is really AC/DC reaching the finish line on their race of improvement, and they have come into their own in this one. "Rock 'N Roll Damnation" is a great opening song, the slow opening chords lead into a fast-paced, very upbeat, pop-like tune, complete with maracas. However, the core of the song is in it's almost 1950s-ish style rock 'n roll, which is makes this one of their best songs. "Down Payment Blues" is, well, a blues song (Surprise). Unfortunately, I bet a lot more people are able to relate to this song these days. However, it is an excellent song. The riff is almost like a constant crescendo, yet it does not get tiresome. "Gimme A Bullet" is a great tune, with a roller-coaster style riff that takes you high and low with each note. Cliff Williams really does well with his bass playing in this one. "Riff Raff" has one of the best intros of any song, ever. The song starts off with Angus playing a very fast-paced riff. Slowly, you hear another guitar, and you realize it's Malcolm, playing the exact same riff, at the exact same blistering speed. Cliff and Phil add their distinct sound, and the intro goes into a ear-popping opening crescendo before ending with a final A chord. Then, a nice up-and-down riff takes the song into it's heart, which is Angus' incredible solo. The song ends with the opening riff, which starts out loud and fast, then slows down and leads into a final crescendo. "Sin City" is probably the one hit song AC/DC got out of this album, even though I think "Rock 'N Roll Damnation" is the best song of the album. An aggressive, rolling riff is combined with some of Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd's finest. Truly, a great song. "What's Next To The Moon" is a very low-pitched song, except for Angus' solo. It, like "Sin City", has a very aggressive sound to it, and is one of AC/DC's most underrated songs. "Gone Shooting" is a song that would not be out of place in a dive bar. It's got a very simple, descending riff, yet maintains a very upbeat feeling. It is a fun song to listen to and to play. "Up To My Neck In You" feels like a combination of the other songs of the album, yet it has it's own unique flavor to it. It is fast-paced, yet slow-paced. It is aggressive and upbeat. A great song. "Kicked In The Teeth" is very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's classic tune "Black Dog", especially in the opening. However, it still has that AC/DC sound to it. It has a great riff.
Lyrics — 10
Like his fellow bandmates, Bon Scott really seems to have come into his own in this album. He maintains that story-teller feeling that he had in his other albums, yet, he seems to have more power and versatility in "Powerage". "Rock 'N Roll Damnation" has lyrics that remind me of another AC/DC classic, "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N Roll.") The entire song tells about how if you are a rocker, people criticize you, "they say that your mind's diseased." But their words are "shaky stuff". "Down Payment Blues" is another song in which Bon shows his great story-telling abilities, as he tells you the sad tale of his money-grubbing girl and his inability to "feed (his) cat, on Social Security." Yet, Bon gives off a sense of hope, and its a very deep song for AC/DC. "Gimme A Bullet" is another hard luck song, with Bon singing how this girl had all the right stuff, yet she gave him the pain of heartbreak. He then requests for not drugs, alcohol, or sympathy, but for "a bullet to bite on, and (he'll) make believe it's (her)." "Riff Raff" is a song with attitude, a song about living it up, and Bon sings it very well, the lyrics are great for singing along to, and are well-written. "Sin City" is the story of one of the countless people that visit Las Vegas and the stuff they experience. The song, like the city, is great. It is edgy, it is dark, it is dirty, but, my God, is it fun. "What's Next To The Moon" has some very strange, yet extremely poetic lyrics. According to most experts, the song is about a man who seems to have hurt, or even killed, his wife or girl, and is trying to not get caught, but does get caught. Looking for excuses, the man says "It was a heart attack!". Bon sings this one with such skill, he could be equated the great Greek lyricists of old, who sang their poems. "Gone Shooting" has lyrics that seem contrary to the music, yet they work. It is basically a song about how this one man misses his woman. (Why she isn't there is unspecified, but it seems to point to an overdose on drugs.) "Up To My Neck In You" follows that favorite topic of AC/DC's: Women. In this case, Bon sings how he feels stifled and suffocated by this unnamed woman, and that he's "up to (his) neck" in her. Of course, he might be speaking literally when he sings that line. "Kicked In The Teeth" is another heartbreak song, much like "Gimme A Bullet", only its lyrics are much more angry and spiteful. Bon cries out in the start "Two-faced woman with your two-faced lies!", and that basically sets the tone for the rest of the song.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, "Powerage", along with "Flick Of The Switch", is AC/DC's most underrated album. Every song is great and would have been a hit on any other album. It seems really unfair that one of Bon's best got no respect. Buy this album, it, like any other AC/DC album, is a treasure. Best songs: "Rock 'N Roll Damnation", "Down Payment Blues", "Riff Raff", "Sin City", "What's Next To The Moon".