The band was not cutting edge but it was. The band did not invent Rock n Roll but it did. The reason was Malcolm Young.
To coin a well known phrase; ‘ It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing …’
Look up that explanation in any dictionary and there should be a photo of Malcolm Young beside it. It was AC / DC’s rythym guitarist and co – founder ( along with brother Angus ) Malcolm Young who made three chords stroll .
Starting with the band’s formation in 1973, there have been plenty of hard rock bands that have come and gone. In the form of such predecessors as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, it was in England where the boys from Down Under surfaced. Unlike their predecessors , AC DC were a Blues – based outfit that blended hard rock without the continuation of energy throughout. No catchy riff -turned-into -noise.
Like a great speaker on a podium , it was Malcolm’s dramatic pauses which elevated the songs to musical heights. Unlike many before and after, those pauses resurfaced throughout the tune and added emotional ebbs to a Rock world filled with mostly flows. The groove filled the heavy metal holes.
Back in Black , Shoot to Thrill , For Those About To Rock ( We Salute You) plus many other ‘ anthems ‘ the band created until Malcolm’s departure in 2014 stood out.
The spaces were what created the anthem yet it was Malcolm’s ‘swing ‘ as a rythym player that gave life to Angus’ leads. Much like the Rythym section of Watts and Richards in the Stones, Malcolm imported that ‘Jazz’ mentality into the feel of AC DC’s music. Any live stadium or arena show by AC DC on YouTube is proof of that. The crowds , en masse – caught up in the momentum of the moment. Bon Scott’s (Brian Johnson later ) powerful vocals, Angus’ theatrics and artful solos and Phil Rudd’s relentless pounding all grounded by Malcolm’s sensibilities. Malcolm’s engine. Malcolm’s songwriting.
Malcolm was the brains behind the band on and offstage. The quiet introspective one who watched , learned and played. For Malcolm – it was and it remained until the end; about the music.
Very few music performers will be laid to rest knowing they wrote and played on twenty odd songs which are played somewhere on Earth everyday. Three hundred and sixty five days a year, somebody is bopping to Thunderstruck, Whole Lotta Rosie and Rock N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.
Habitually , Rock n’ Roll is known as the Devil’s music. Somehow, Malcolm Young was never on the Highway to Hell so his final resting place is in store for something new and not borrowed.
Malcolm Mitchell Young (6 January 1953 – 18 November 2017