AC/DC: The Final Salute – Flick Of The Switch & Fly On The Wall
In the era of 80s pop and hair metal, AC/DC went back to basics on a pair of self-produced albums that are about as popular as a permed mullet today.
To anyone outside the hard rock tent, it’s laughable to hear that there once was a time when AC/DC yearned to get back to basics.
Nonetheless, 1981’s For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) had reached a level of studio sophistication that felt unnecessarily fussy to Malcolm and Angus Young. What had worked so well with producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange on the preceding two records – crisp tour de force Highway To Hell (1979) and the sans Bon phenomenon Back in Black (1980) – was applying reasonable rigour to making AC/DC sound extremely loud and incredibly close. For Those About To Rock found Lange questing ever further for sonic perfection, which was a time-consuming process. After this Michelin-starred philosophy, the Young brothers wanted to take a greasy spoon approach to their next album. To that end, they chose to produce it themselves.
Flick Of The Switch is the result of this decision. It was recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas. This was where AC/DC had created Back In Black , but though the new raw tapes sounded reminiscent of their greatest commercial triumph, it was mixed by engineer Tony Platt to impart a different feel. “I don’t think that was a good thing to do at all,” Platt later remarked.
The Young brothers had wanted something more immediate, less refined, than their last record. This they got, as Flick Of The Switch definitely seems thrown together and lacks the Kubrickian craftsmanship of a Mutt Lange piece. The unalloyed audio isn’t what’s wrong here, because a bit of grit never hurt an AC/DC song – the problem is that the songs are unexceptional.