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77 - "High Decibels" (CD)

77 - "High Decibels" CD cover image

"High Decibels" track listing:

1. High Decibels
2. (Gotta Go) Gotta Hit The Road
3. Are You Ready For Rock 'N' Roll
4. Let's Beat It Up
5. Backdoor Man
6. Gimme A Dollar
7. This Girl Is On Fire
8. Meltin' In A Spoon
9. Since You've Been Gone
10. Promised Land
11. Things You Can't Talk About

Reviewed by on January 17, 2012

"If you like Bon Scott-era AC/DC, odds are, you'll find something to enjoy in 77's almost tribute band approach to 'High Decibels.' If you're looking for sounds that isn't so specific to one point in that band's career, you'd best look elsewhere."

"You know what? Fuck originality — let's just rock out like AC/DC!"

That's what I imagine the members of Spanish rock outfit 77 said before recording their sophomore album, "High Decibels," which nearly never goes anywhere that Bon and the boys didn't go before on albums like "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "High Voltage" — and is all the better for it.

Granted, if you don't like AC/DC — particularly the band's 1970s output — there's nearly no reason whatsoever you should give it a listen. Singer Armand Valeta's vocals are so incredibly close to Bon Scott they give Marc Storace (Krokus) and Jesse James Dupree (Jackyl) a run for their money. Tracks like "Meltin' In A Spoon" and "Let's Beat It Up" are so close to Bon as to be uncanny, with the latter featuring backing vocals that are so close to Angus, Cliff and Malcolm that I'm willing to bet most people wouldn't even flinch of they were told this was an album of AC/DC outtakes (hell, even the cover art is reminiscent of "Let There Be Rock").

Armand Valeta also plays the part of Malcolm Young here, laying down the riffs on rhythm guitar, while LG Valeta throws Angus-style lead guitar tantrums on "Backdoor Man" and "Gimme A Dollar." The latter track departs slightly from the AC/DC mold, featuring a Bo Diddley beat, reminiscent of "Who Do You Love."

The rhythm section of Johnnie Dolphin (drums) and Mr. Raw (bass) does a more than solid job, with Dolphin feeling maybe just a little more like Chris Slade or Simon Wright than Phil Rudd — but that's just quibbling.

The disc's most ambitious track, "Promised Land," a mini-opera talking about the band's days of trying to scratch together a living in London, is also the one where things fall apart a bit. It aims for the same kind of pull as AC/DC's "Ain't No Fun (Waitin' Round To Be A Millionaire)," but feels even sillier by comparison — and the shouted mentions of the band's name don't really help.

Producer Nicke Andersson plays the role of George Young here, not interfering overly much as the band plays live in the studio, with plenty of feedback to prove it. It's definitely NOT the kind of sound you'd hear most modern bands go for.

If you like Bon Scott-era AC/DC, odds are, you'll find something to enjoy in 77's almost tribute band approach to "High Decibels." If you're looking for sounds that aren't so specific to one point in that band's career, you'd best look elsewhere.

Highs: "Meltin' In A Spoon," "Backdoor Man" and "Let's Beat It Up."

Lows: The 8-minute-plus mini-opera "Promised Land."

Bottom line: Sure, they're aping AC/DC, but they do it so well you probably won't care — and might not even notice the difference!

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)