Disclaimer: these are B.J. Kahuna’s not-so-humble opinions and in no way reflect the opinions of anyone else affiliated in any way with the Decibel Geek podcast, or their extended families, or their friends on Facebook.
Also please note, these are albums that I like, I just think they are overrated. But I like them!
Bon Scott was an incredibly charismatic guy. He was a natural on stage, the guy oozed personality. His omnipresent smirk was endearing and contagious. He was a one of a kind frontman and lyricist and a perfect fit for a one of a kind band. It’s a harsh reality, but when Bon Scott died much of what was AC/DC died with him. I enjoy Brian Johnson, but he’s no Bon Scott. I can only imagine how great the next AC/DC album would have been if Bon had lived. I like Back In Black, I like most of the work AC/DC has done with Brian Johnson, but there is really no comparison to me between the Scott years and the Johnson years. Back In Black has some great songs, but all of the albums the band recorded with Bon Scott are better, a lot better, and for a variety of reasons. Johnson delivered some great melodies but the lyrics on Back In Black are terrible, often embarrassingly so. Bon Scott dabbled in wit and subtlety. “Let Me Put My Love Into You” is the antidote to wit, the opposite of subtlety. Much of the personality that made the previous AC/DC records so original and so much fun shuffled off this mortal coil with Bon. The fact that Back In Black is AC/DC’s most successful, acclaimed and appreciated album is offensive. Consider this: how many of the millions of people who at one time or another purchased Back In Black did not even know who Bon Scott was? That’s a problem.
I own every Payola$ album and even the Rock & Hyde record, but Bob Rock needs a talking to. Metallica were one of those chosen few bands that accomplished an extremely rare and monumental feat: they created a new genre of music. Metallica made music so different, so compelling, so goddamn good that other musicians heard it, loved it and immediately formed bands so they could do it too. Metallica were a truly inspirational band. Kill ‘Em All
, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets were revelatory records, epochs in rock history. Even after suffering the catastrophic loss of Cliff Burton the band still forged new ground. And Justice For All was an ambitious, forward-thinking work. So what the fuck happened? Why did they decide to dumb it down to such a startling degree? Is it fair to blame Bob Rock? Not entirely, but mostly, yeah, I think so. I feel certain that Bob Rock convinced James Hetfield to change the way he sings, not only in a lower register, that goddamn growling shit, but also that extra syllable! One of the main reasons I have a hard time listening to anything the band recorded after Justice is the extra fucking syllable James has to add to the end of the last word of every line, it drives me nuts, and I blame Bob Rock. I can see him now, brushing his hair back and coaching James, teaching him how to ruin Metallica. This album is Metallica minus the heart, minus the passion, minus the ingenuity, minus the originality, minus the sheer creativity, minus minus minus. Did they take the easy way out? Cash in? I don’t know why they did it, but if Cliff Burton had lived he never would have allowed it. Well, he either would have talked Lars and James out of it or quit the band. Cliff Burton’s death significantly impacted rock and/or metal history, that’s what I think. It’s difficult to fathom the fact that the band that made Ride The Lightning went on to make Load and ReLoad, aptly titled since they’re loads of shit.
im as far as I’m concerned, and that is the definition of overrated. Somehow this album became a pan-genre phenomenon, one of those albums imbued with greatness by the universality of its appeal, but what exactly is behind the ubiquity of its coolness? Was it a domino effect? This friend and that friend and every friend and then everyone agrees, because it must be true, because everyone agrees? Guns N’ Roses were a gritty rock band with an outlaw image, smug and dismissive of their peers, and people love that shit. Believe me, I dig a good band dynamic, but in the end what it comes down to for me is the songs. Sure, it’s a matter of taste, but what bugs me is that Guns N’ Roses pretended to be above the genre of music they rose out of even though of course there was a time when they used just as much hairspray and wore just as much make-up as any other band on the strip. Look, I think the rest of the guys are pretty cool, but as far as I can tell Axl is a pretentious and childish douchebag and Chinese Democracy is all the proof you need that this band was the sum of its parts and Axl ain’t shit without the rest of ’em. Footnote: “Sweet Child O’Mine” is exempt from everything previously stated, I love that song and think it is a masterpiece (well, except for the lyrics, which are dumb as shit–thanks again Axl).