The Razors Edge (AC/DC album)
AC/DC’s The Razor’s Edge was released on 21 September 1990, the band’s twelveth studio album. The album featured the hits “Thunderstruck” and “Are You Ready“, which reached #5 and #16 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, and “Moneytalks“, which peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached #2 on the US Billboard 200 and #4 in the UK, a smash commercial success that returned the band to the popularity of its glory years.
Blow Up Your Video (1988) was recorded with Harry Vanda and George Young, the band’s original producers. Commercially, it was a success, selling more copies than its two predecessors combined. The Blow Up Your Video World Tour started in Perth, Australia, in February 1988. Early in April, on the eve of the North American leg of the tour, Malcolm Young announced that he would be taking a break from touring to begin his recovery from alcoholism. Stevie Young, another member of the Young family, temporarily took Malcolm’s place on rhythm guitar. During the tour, Simon Wright left the group to work on the upcoming Dio album Lock Up the Wolves. He was replaced by Chris Slade, an ex-Firm drummer who played with Manfred Mann in Sydney years earlier with Deep Purple and Free.
Recording and composition
Mike Fraser mixed and engineered the recording at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland and Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, BC, Canada, while Bruce Fairbairn produced the album, who had previously worked with Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. According to AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, George Young was involved early on but had to leave due to personal reasons.
During the divorce process, lead singer Brian Johnson was unavailable for several months, so the Young brothers wrote all of the songs for the next album, a practice they continued for all subsequent records (In a 1995 interview, Johnson told Guitar World that he was relieved at not having to deal with the pressure of writing the lyrics anymore).
Young alternates fretted notes with open strings in the opening riff of “Thunderstruck“. Alan Di Perna of Guitar World interviewed the guitarist in 1993, and he recalls, “I was just fiddling with my left hand when I came up with that riff; I played it more by accident than anything. I thought, ‘not bad,’ and put it on a tape. That’s how me and Malcolm generally work. We put our ideas down on tape and play them for one another.” The following is part of his explanation in the liner notes of the re-release of The Razors Edge in 2003:
“It started off from a little trick I had on guitar. I played it to Mal and he said ‘Oh, I’ve got a good rhythm idea that will sit well in the back.’ We built the song up from that. We fiddled about with it for a few months before everything fell into place. Lyrically, it was really just a case of finding a good title…We came up with this thunder thing and it seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC = Power. That’s the basic idea.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_Records
As Murray Engleheart describes in his book AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll: “Malcolm and Angus showed their working-class roots by targeting high flyers in the business world on songs like ‘Mistress for Christmas‘ and ‘Moneytalks.'”
According to Angus Young in an interview with Guitar World from February 1991, “I think the funniest song on this album is ‘Mistress For Christmas.’ That song’s about Donald Trump. He was big news at the time, so we thought we’d have a bit of fun and humor with it.” He stated in the same interview that the song “The Razors Edge” featured his best guitar solo, as well as a rare foray into finger picking. The title track of AC/DC’s 1992 album, “Black Ice,” was a commentary of sorts, as Young explained to MuchMusic in 1992:
Malcolm Young (age 37) in 1990.”The Razors Edge” comes from an old saying farmers used to use in Britain where you’d have a fine sunny day, you know, a very good day with a hot sun, and then all of a sudden right in the distance you could see these black clouds coming over the horizon, an ominous thing…I thought it was a great title. The world was at peace again and everyone thought, “Ah, the Berlin Wall’s come down and it’s all gonna be fun and games, a party every night,” and you can see now that it’s not that way. It’s just our way of saying the world’s not perfect and never will be.
Daria’s version of Mistress for Christmas is another rock Christmas song that Daria has successfully covered. With her powerful way of singing, which is really cool.
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