Tag Archives: AC/DC

Hear AC/DC’s New ‘Rock or Bust’

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Classic rock giants AC/DC have released an official audio stream of “Rock or Bust,” the title track to their upcoming Dec. 2 album.

Coming in at just over three minutes, the anthemic tune features a stuttering rhythm guitar throughout and a bluesy solo by Angus Young at the midway point.

While the album does not feature Malcolm Young, who retired from the band due to dementia, its 11 songs credit both brothers. The songs were reportedly largely built by Angus from guitar hooks he and Malcolm accumulated while writing previous AC/DC records.

Young’s nephew, Stevie Young, played rhythm guitar in Malcolm’s stead on Rock or Bust. He will also be filling in for the elder Young on the group’s upcoming world tour in 2015.

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Five (More) Great Gretsch Movie Moments

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We offered a list of five great Gretsch movie moments a few months back. Since there’s plenty more where they came from, however, here are a few more great Gretsch cinematic appearances.

Help!, 1965

Directed by Richard Lester, Help!, was the second feature film from the Beatles.  The comedy adventure’s plot was based around the band running up against an evil cult that was about to sacrifice a woman to the goddess Kaili.  Unfortunately, the woman in question is not wearing the sacrificial ring.  Guess who has the ring stuck on their finger?  Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

We won’t spoil the rest of the flick for you, but it should be noted that there were several musical performances during Help!, as well, and the soundtrack was even released as an album.  Most notably during a performance of “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” in the film, George Harrison is seen strumming a Country Gentleman.

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Five Great Gretsch Holiday Songs

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By this time of year, we’ve all been inundated with holiday music for weeks. The standards are inescapable, as it seems that every radio station is blaring some version of “Silent Night” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

We tend to look in different places for our Christmas tunes. Sure, there might be a time and a place for some Manheim Steamroller, but there are so many more gems out there that can serve as a much-needed changeup.

So as we get ready to unwrap presents and sip on some nutmeg-infused eggnog, here are five great Gretsch holiday tunes that should be on your playlist right now: (more…)

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Five Great Gretsch Rock Albums of the 1980s

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Gretsch electric guitars loomed large in the 1950s with original-era rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly; even larger in the 1960s with the British Invasion. They were certainly still around during the musically tumultuous 1970s, although you did have to look a little harder. And then the 1980s arrived.

The 1980s. That was the decade when Gretsch guitars came roaring back in ways both traditional and unexpected, as post-punk, new wave, the rockabilly revival and other fast-proliferating subgenres blasted their way to the forefront of popular music on both sides of the Atlantic. Below, in chronological order, are five fine albums you can thank for that happy development. And we’re not just talking about a Gretsch guitar appearing on a song or two—we’re talking about entire albums that are scorching, swinging, soaring and singing examples of Gretsch guitar artistry all the way through from first track to last …
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Five Great Gretsch Hits of the ’70s

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Between the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s and the British Invasion in the 1960s, Gretsch guitars were all over the place and all over the charts. And if we skip ahead a decade, we find Gretsch guitars very much in vogue during the 1980s, and they’ve remained so pretty much ever since, right through the 1990s and the early 2000s to the present day.

But what about that decade we skipped? Unlike any other decade in rock, the 1970s are a bit more of a challenge when looking for Gretsch guitar hits. Maybe it has something to do with the idea that in many ways and certainly more so than in any other decade, the 1970s was an anxious and uncertain period when rock tore itself down and rebuilt itself -an unusually turbulent adolescence for an art form no longer in its childhood.

Never mind all that, though – the ’70s still kicked ass, and while you might have had to look a little harder to find them between Let It Be and Built For Speed, Gretsch guitars were very much alive and well. Here are five 1970s hits that prove it:

1. Crosby, Still, Nash & Young, “Ohio” (1970). Neil Young and Stephen Stills both made extensive use of the Gretsch White Falcon in the 1970s, perhaps best exemplified by 1970 CSN&Y single “Ohio,” penned by Young that summer in response to the infamous Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970. Young’s instantly recognizable picked intro and main theme is a fine Gretsch moment all by itself, and the song peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.




2. The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again (1971). Pete Townshend played a 1959 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollow Body on this, the quintessential Who track of the 1970s and possibly even the quintessential Who track, period. Further, he played it on every song from monumental 1970 album Who’s Next – “Bargain,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Baba O’Riley,” everything. In fact, he used on just about every Who recording and solo track from 1970 to at least 1993. He still has it and he still loves it, even though he broke it in an “accident” during an October 1973 performance of “5:15” on Top of the Pops.

The guitar was a 1970 gift from Joe Walsh. Townshend was less than thrilled upon opening the case for the first time, but that soon changed. As he told Guitar Player magazine in spring 1972:

Oh, I used that guitar on every track on Who’s Next, it’s the best guitar I’ve ever had. It won’t stay in tune on stage but if it did, I would use it. It’s the finest guitar I’ve ever owned, it’s the loudest guitar I’ve ever owned. It is so loud, man, it whips any pickup that I’ve ever come across. It’s maybe six or seven times louder than anything I’ve come across. If I plugged it in my amp tonight, normally I’d be working on volume 6 or 7, but I would work this guitar on 1.




3. New York Dolls “Personality Crisis” (1973). Honestly, almost any track off the New York Dolls’ hugely influential eponymous 1973 debut album qualifies here – “Trash,” “Looking For a Kiss” and “Jet Boy” all leap to mind – but if the Library of Congress could only preserve one number as the quintessential Dolls track, “Personality Crisis” wins for sheer glammy New York proto-punk majesty.

And OK, calling it a hit might be a bit of a stretch, but c’mon – you can’t talk about Gretsch guitars in the 1970s without at least a special honorable mention for the Dolls, because while David Johansen and Johnny Thunders stole more camera time trying to out-preen the Stones and the Stooges, Egyptian-born guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and his oft-wielded Gretsch White Falcon were the real bedrock of the group’s relentless lawnmower guitar sound.




4. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “Takin’ Care of Business” (1974). Randy Bachman is one of the world’s great Gretsch guitar collectors, and believe it or not, he sold pretty much his entire phenomenal collection – almost 400 guitars – to the Gretsch museum in Savannah, Ga., in 2008. Unfortunately, the collection didn’t include the late-’50s orange 6120 he used to record universally beloved classic Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit “Takin’ Care of Business,” because the guitar was stolen from a Toronto hotel room in 1976.

Bachman once referred to the 6120 as his “first real professional guitar,” and he played it on the Guess Who’s first hit, a 1965 cover of “Shakin’ All Over,” so it was dear to him, to put it mildly. He has spent years searching for it without success. As for recording the hit in 1973, Bachman himself told us that “‘Taking Care of Business’ was my 6120, played through a 15-watt Garnet bass amp with a 15” speaker that was on a chair facing me. I had to use a lot of hand dampening to stop the squeals, but when I wanted the B.B. King-kind of feedback, I’d just let the lead notes sing out.”




5. AC/DC, “Highway to Hell” (1979). Hell, any AC/DC song from any decade is a shining Gretsch moment thanks to the rock-solid rhythm guitar work of Malcolm Young, but this is where things get going in earnest for Australia’s finest, which formed in Sydney in 1973. “Highway to Hell” comes from the 1979 album of the same name, which was AC/DC’s first million-selling record and first to break the U.S. Top 100, but its last with original vocalist Bon Scott, who died several months after its release.

Malcolm Young co-authored “Highway to Hell” with Scott and younger brother Angus Young, and of course, as on most AC/DC songs before and since, played his modified 1963 double-cutaway Gretsch Jet Firebird on it. He has remained pretty much exclusively devoted to the guitar, which was handed down to him by elder brother George Young (whose own group, the Easybeats, scored Australia’s first international rock hit with 1966 classic “Friday on My Mind”). The guitar was originally red, but Young stripped the top finish down to the maple top sometime around 1977’s Let There Be Rock.

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