It’s natural to miss Bon Scott. Rock just ain’t been quite the same since the AC/DC frontman’s sudden demise in 1980. However, Spain’s ’77 is doing their part to ease our collective Bon ache. Many bands have attemped to evoke the AC/DC of the Scott years but no one has come closer to capturing the slippery, purely carnal mojo of that period than ’77. And while their 2010 debut, 21st Century Rock (DI review), got the basic feel down cold – particularly Bon’s distinctive phrasing and growl – the follow-up, High Decibels (released March 13 on Listenable) shows they’ve got the makings and pummeling talent to eventually knock out their own Let There Be Rock and Highway To Hell.
Like their debut, the fingerprints of their touchstone inspiration are readily apparent, but where High Decibels betters its predecessor is in the increasing complications and subtle touches that step away from Angus, Malcolm, et al. This time they draw upon the Chuck Berry, old electric blues root stuff that originally sparked AC/DC. There are also echoes of early Alice Cooper Band and even Thin Lizzy (think “The Rocker”), and overall this is less slavish to any template. The songwriting is considerably stronger – anti-heroin number “Melting In A Spoon” and broken-hearted near-ballad “Since You’ve Been Gone” are both cool evolutions, and closer “Promised Land” has the revelatory range of AC/DC classics like “Ride On” and “Overdose” – yet they still pull off the glorious dumbstick trick of making titles like “Let’s Beat It Up” and “Are You Ready For Rock ‘n’ Roll” not just stupid anthem red meat. The basics mean something to ’77 and their passion for them renews the listener’s own love of the fundamentals.
With High Decibels, ’77 taps into rock’s primal truths and administers an adrenaline shot to the genre’s heart, waking it up with a throaty come-on, irresistible twin guitars skipping madly atop a crunching, never teetering rhythm section as they chase down birds and good times with a wink and a leer.
While the CD is a pricey import in the U.S., the album is available as a download for $7.99 here.