BOOK’S JOOK: AC/DC’s “Guns For Hire”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

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    AC/DC are a band that I’ve heard since childhood, and I enjoyed going to my uncle’s place as a kid just to look over the covers, especially If You Want Blood, You Got It. The photo of Angus Young being stabbed by his own guitar was grusome and sick but awesome, who wouldn’t want to be killed in that fashion?

    While I had heard their songs on the radio and from what my uncle played on his stereo, I first got into their music with their exposure on MTV, which for me meant loving their album For Those About To Rock We Salute You. I was that kid who did not know how to play guitar well but I could take off my shirt and be a Hawaiian Angus Young until my neck was about to fall off. I loved the power he displayed in the video, and who couldn’t help but love the song. With that said, the first AC/DC record I bought was not an album, but a single. AC/DC were always an album band but they had hit singles, or at least Atlantic Records in the U.S. wanted to be sure to release singles as a way to help sell albums. Nonetheless, when they released the Flick Of The Switch album, they released “Guns For Hire” with something that I still feel is one of the best introductions to any AC/DC song. Young sounds like he’s about to light up a firecracker with a few plucks of his guitar before it falls into a bit of heavy metal minimalism. As someone who was getting into minimalism before I even knew there was a name for musical repetition, I got into it big time and when the drums kicked in, I felt the song was about to explode. AC/DC was already turning into classic rock mavens with massive airplay for “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Back In Black”, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “TNT” but to be able to hear a new AC/DC song as it was about to rise to the top of the charts was exciting.

    Well, “Guns For Hire” didn’t rise to the top of the charts at all, it only went as high as #84 on Billboard’s Singles chart, but managed to go to 37 on the UK singles chart. To me, this was the best thing AC/DC had ever released, even though I had never investigated their music yet, but that was my song. Even though Flick Of The Switch would release two more singles, I didn’t want them at the time. All I wanted was “Guns For Hire”. Sadly, the song did not gain the same status as “Thunderstruck” or “Heatseeker” but no matter, for “Guns For Hire” is one of my prime AC/DC anthems (up there with “Sink The Pink” and “Shake Your Foundations”.)

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