AC/DC – Fly On The Wall [HDtracks Hi-Res Remastered] (2020)
AC/DC‘s mid-80s LP ”Fly On The Wall” has been recently remastered 2020 and reissued in a Hi-Res Audio quality. This has to be the most misunderstood and underrated AC/DC album out there. I love it, and it attracted me a lot more to the band because at the time hard rock was exploding in glam, and ”Fly On The Wall” worked as a shot of old school rock n’ roll.
”Fly On The Wall” is the great ‘lost’ AC/DC album and here’s why:…
In 1985, AC/DC were in a little career trouble. A new breed of rockers were selling millions of albums via mass MTV exposure. Ratt, Motley Crue, Twister Sister and the like were darlings of the channel. Unlike the highly dramatic turmoil and triumphant return surrounding ‘Back In Black’, they now faced maybe a more daunting challenge to any veteran rock band – they were teetering on being passe.
The band needed to grab the attention of younger American rockers and the five promo videos they did for ”Fly On The Wall” – the title track, Danger, Sink the Pink, Stand Up, and Shake Your Foundations, all released on a 5 track VHS at the time – did exactly that.
Suddenly we got to see the high voltage, stop-your-grinnin’-and-drop-your-linen-charm for ourselves. Sure, the Fly videos were cheeky (what band’s weren’t back then?) but there was an authentic glee about them that came across as you watched.
MTV embraced the Australian boys. The videos from ”Fly On The Wall” perfectly segued into ‘Who Made Who’ – the pseudo-greatest hits soundtrack to Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive movie (that included both Sink The Pink and Shake Your Foundations from Fly) – later the same year. Who Made Who’s title track and a new concept video of Shook Me All Night Long proceeded to get massive airings at MTV.
In short order, ”Fly On The Wall” had helped them again grab the youth of America and in turn set up the band’s next three albums for MTV and sales domination.
And while the album peaked in the US at #32, slow burn sales from touring and MTV exposure helped it gain platinum status regardless. Not too shabby for “a disaster”.
The production on ”Fly On The Wall” was by the Young brothers themselves and is one of the problems people have with the album.
The mid ’80s were the beginning of the burgeoning digital audio production movement, and while it was fashionable at the time, the trendy processing left a good amount of mid-80s rock records sounding a bit thin and cold, a sound that isn’t quite so timeless today.
”Fly On The Wall” clearly sounded like an attempt to keep up with the poodle-haired Jones’ whose albums were flying off the shelves at the time. Who can blame them? In all fairness, it still sounded like AC/DC, just not your older brother’s AC/DC.
Of course, this new approach is in itself a sore spot for AC/DC purists. If ‘Powerage’ is more your speed, then I completely understand your position in the matter – I love the bloozy looseness of the Bon era as much as anyone.
But, growing up in the ’80s, I’m a big fan of the Brian era too and this is the same approach that produced the stadium-rattling ‘Thunderstruck’ amongst others. Put ‘Thunderstruck’ and ‘Shake Your Foundations’ on back-to-back and you’ll see they’re really cut from the same cloth.
At the end of the day, it’s the music that matters – and to my ears, the music on this LP rocked. That opinion hasn’t changed with age.
If you listen now to tracks like Fly On The Wall, Shake Your Foundations, Back In Business and Sink The Pink, it’s inherently ass-kicking AC/DC with that slinky groove-and-grin present throughout. For me, it’s the last of their albums to be a complete collection of quality, well-thought-out songs.
That said, in many ways the album seemed to reinvigorate AC/DC. After Fly, the band made considerable efforts to keep up with the times and began consistently utilising established producers of the moment – Rick Rubin and Bruce Fairbairn to name a couple – to oversee album production. Gone were the afterthought live clips: every subsequent single had a big production video attached to it.
”Fly On The Wall” had walked into the 80s rock party, nicked a whole new generation of rockers, and reignited a stalled career.
01 – Fly on the Wall
02 – Shake Your Foundations
03 – First Blood
04 – Danger
05 – Sink the Pink
06 – Playing with Girls
07 – Stand Up
08 – Hell or High Water
09 – Back in Business
10 – Send for the Man
Brian Johnson – lead vocals
Angus Young – lead guitar
Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals
Simon Wright – drums, percussion