Rich’s Rapidfire Recommendations – bite-sized metal morsels to let you know about books that have grabbed Rich Davenport by the eyes, that we hope you’ll enjoy too! ROCK ON!
Book: “The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC”
Author: Jesse Fink
Publisher: Black and White Publishing
Published: September 2015
When a former member of a band says that a biography is the best book he’s ever read on them, it’s worth taking seriously (ex-bassist Mark Evans in this case). And that’s exactly what Jesse Fink does with “The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC”, giving the world-beating Aussie rockers the kind of treatment that’s usually reserved for more “worthy” artists like Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Not that there’s anything wrong with Bob or the Fab Four, but as Jesse points out early on in the proceedings, AC/DC were initially dismissed out of hand by many critics from the more po-faced school of rock writing, and it’s amusing to read the author’s account of tracking down one of these journalists to see if he still stands by his scathing review of one of their early albums, now that the band are literally one of the biggest acts on the planet.
Angus and Malcolm Young are renowned for running a tight ship, and in looking at the way they’ve helmed the band over the years, Fink takes a wider perspective than many biographers who’ve previously written about AC/DC by looking at the influence and essential input of elder brother George Young, whose own experiences at the sharp end of the music business (as a member of the Easybeats) have played a vital role in shaping the way his younger siblings have conducted their own clannish brand of business from day one.
It’s sometimes been intimated that the notoriously insular Youngs may have treated former band members and associates harshly on occasion, principally in the way that they’ve closed ranks and cut them off completely, and some of the folks who found themselves frozen out are interviewed here, but overall, the author achieves a welcome balance in tracing AC/DC’s ascent by presenting well-researched accounts of key events in an objective manner (concerted efforts to interview the Youngs themselves through various official channels weren’t successful), and many of those quoted, including those with whom ties have been unceremoniously severed, still express their admiration for the brothers’ talent, tenacity, work ethic, humour and of course their vast catalogue of stone-cold classic songs.
From my own point of view as a fan since 1981, and despite having read a small library’s worth of books and articles on them since then, I can honestly say that I gained a lot of fascinating new insights on AC/DC from “The Youngs…”, due to the author having gone the extra mile both in researching the facts, and in interviewing an incredible cast of industry insiders who supplemented the band’s tireless, punishing work schedule with efforts beyond the call of duty in their own areas of expertise. Interviewees include local DJs who gave them their first Stateside airplay, record company staff who fought the suits to get their albums released, promoters who helped them build their profile across thousands of gigs, recording engineers, friends and musical contemporaries through to former band members (Mark Evans) and almost-band-members (Tony Currenti), all on hand to give eyewitness reports.
With AC/DC having now achieved legendary status, it’s easy to forget just how hard a slog they had during the mid-to-late 70s, and without taking anything away from the band themselves, Fink manages to point out that their success didn’t happen in a vacuum; of course, they wrote some of the most enduring and influential Rock classics in the genre’s history, the on-stage tag-team of Bon Scott and Angus Young was unbeatable in terms of charisma, and they toured tirelessly to build a fan base, but why did they succeed where other talented, charismatic and hardworking bands didn’t? In attempting the answer this question, “The Youngs…” takes the reader on a journey through the endless miles of hard-won territory conquered by AC/DC and those in their corner, as they took the long way to the top (to quote the fella from Kirriemuir, RIP). Jesse Fink’s skill as a writer, coupled with his exhaustive research and evident passion for the music, make this an essential read not only for fans, but also for anyone interested in seeing the mechanics of the late 70s/ early 80s music industry up close.
More information HERE.