Angusonics: Intro
By: James Parker | Categories: Pop Music, Read-outs

“Being a little guy, where most people bend a note on a guitar, my whole body bends. Then when I hit a chord down at the bottom end of the guitar, I just follow it.”

Ecce Angus, wildly sweating in his blazer and shorts. The tiny rubber legs go bounce-bounce with the left knee, bounce-bounce with right, and the outsized head — mouth open, eyes closed — lashes slowly up and down over the red Gibson. He is nodding, he is saying Yes. Life: he agrees to it. The right arm rises, in an absent-minded salute, as the fingers of the left hand bend and compel the strings. Ssssh. He is CONCENTRATING.

Malcolm Young might have been a blazing soloist. He might have been better than Angus. But in the primordial division of powers at the birth of AC/DC it is determined that he should confine himself and play Rhythm, leaving his little brother to go mental on Lead.

So Malcolm becomes the master of negative space, god of the gaps, conjuring those riffs with his Gretsch out of an enormous energized silence: the lack of distortion in his tone — the low amp gain, the lack of metal — means that every coiled under-chord, every checked backstroke, every tucked-in absence is heard and felt. Vacuums are created. Drums and bass, meanwhile, are nailed down like disco.

And Angus is the note-spewer, the cosmic decorator. Punctually he lets rip, punctually he settles down. But is “going mental” all he does? Sixteen bars of freakout-on-demand? Eruptive he most certainly is, but over the course of this week we will be paying tribute solo by solo to Angus Young the craftsman, the shaper of sound, the maker. In honour of his 56th birthday, which falls on March 31st, Hilobrow presents… ANGUSONICS.

Stay tuned for a series of five posts, coauthored by HiLobrow’s James Parker and Tommy Valicenti, singer/guitarist with the Boston rock band Mount Peru, to be published this week.

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James Parker is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.