Sound — 8
When you kick off your debut album with a song called Stand Up for Rock-n-Roll, you better deliver the goods to back it up! Airbourne actually go above and beyond the task. Once they get past the guitar intro's arrpegiated crescendos, the band come in full strength to start things off in fine blues-rock fashion! The filthy toned guitars of Joel O'Keeffe (also the lead singer) and David Roads tip their hat to the work of AC/DC's assault team of Angus and Malcolm Young as well as The Cult's Billy Duffy. O'Keeffe and Roads deal out the kinds of riffs that will inspire air guitarists from Osaka to Omaha! The thick barre chords that open up Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast, reminiscent of Kiss staple Cold Gin, just begs you to reach for the volume knob. The meat and potatoes production by Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper) is a no-brainer. He does a stellar job of capturing the rhythm section of drummer Ryan O'Keeffe and four stringer Justin Street's steady bottom end. There was no need to clutter the sound or arrangements here and the veteran producer does a great job of getting out of the way and letting the songs breathe out.
Lyrics — 8
Any band that names one of their songs Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women isn't going to win a Pulitzer Prize. But then again, Highway to Hell didn't either and we're still singing along almost thirty years later. Airbourne's lyrics embody the very things that made rock-n-roll so dangerous yet alluring in the first place. Bon Scott would have been proud of gems like, I sealed the deal and she said "yes"/so I put my hands right up her dress/ N' she said what's been taking you so long, from the song Heartbreaker. The AC/DC comparisons never stop coming with Stand Up for Rock-n-Roll being a close lyrical cousin to Let There Be Rock with it's brash declarations and tales of depravity.
Overall Impression — 8
My fellow critics throughout Europe have largely dismissed Airbourne as nothing more than mere clones. Do they ape a lot of, OK, most of AC/DC's blueprint? Sure they do. So has Rhino Bucket, Jet, Dirty Looks, Supagroup, The Datsuns and many others. Some have fared much better than others. The bottom line is Airbourne do it better than anyone else. They don't only nail the sound down, they also capture the very essence of what continues to make AC/DC so revered in the first place. This is where most of the other tributes fell short. Joel O'Keeffe's police siren of a voice is tailor made for blitzkriegs like Blackjack and What's Eatin' You. He snarls and screeches through every line as if someone has a gun pointed at his head! He also gets double points for his incendiary lead guitar solos. Not only do scream out like vintage Joe Perry, they're instantly memorable. They are so utterly ingrained into the fabric of the songs that if your band ever decides to cover them, you'll have to learn the solo note for note. So let the critics have their say but don't let them rain on this parade. You have to take Runnin' Wild for all it really is; a kick-ass, party-rock record! If they ever decide to release a deluxe edition of this album, they should include a six-pack of the best Australian beer!