Released in 1976. This is the cover we know for the album and not the Hipgnosis one which came out on the International release.
This version of AC/DC rocked hard. Bon Scott is on Vocals, The Young Brothers are on all things guitar related, Mark Evans is on bass and Phil Rudd is on the Drums.
Production is handled by The Easybeats main songwriters in George Young (big brother of Angus and Malcolm) and Harry Vanda.
“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” is the third studio album by AC/DC. While it hit the streets in Australia in 1976, it didn’t get a U.S release until 1981.
And that decisions by Atlantic A&R man Doug Morris to release the album proved to be unpopular with the band.
AC/DC had successfully reinvented itself with a new singer, Brian Johnson. The band was working on a new album, which would become “For Those About to Rock We Salute You”, released later that same year.
But Morris saw a financial opportunity to capitalize on the success of “Back in Black” which had already sold over five million copies. And due to those numbers, Morris estimated that “Dirty Deeds” would move at least 2 million.
But it also took away an opportunity for the new album.
“For Those About to Rock” would have sold a lot more if Morris had waited.
So the US release of “Dirty Deeds” was widely seen as damaging the momentum for that album, which it outsold. The band was also forced to add songs from the “Dirty Deeds” album to its set list on its subsequent tour, further taking the focus away from their new album.
But going back to 1976, Atlantic was unhappy with the vocals and the production. This infuriated Malcolm Young because the label was putting shit on his older brother.
Bassist Mark Evans assumed Bon Scott would be fired as a result. The band was on the verge of being dropped.
But “High Voltage” which was also released in the United States in 1976 was still selling and the sales of that album versus what the label paid for it, gave AC/DC a lifeline.
The Young brothers along with Bon Scott were very creative during this period. As was the norm, each year had a new AC/DC album. And they always overwrote for each album.
As a side note a song called “I’m a Rebel” was recorded for this album, with music and lyrics written by Alex Young, another brother of the Young’s. While the song was never released by AC/DC, Accept somehow got their hands on it and released it as a single, and also named their second album after it.
The riff’s simplicity is its magic.
The drum groove was used by Lars Ulrich for the “Enter Sandman” intro.
The lead break is the embryo of the “Thunderstruck”.
And Bon Scott is menacing as he gave us a new phone number to call.
Love At First Feel
It’s got that Chuck Berry 12 bar blues rock feel, which AC/DC used a lot of. The most notable song being, “Long Way To The Top”.
Press play to hear a very good and underrated Angus Young lead.
And I like how it quietens down after the solo, with the vocal melody of “Love At First Feel” repeated as they build the song back up.
There was a band in Australia called Skyhooks who had this kind of cabaret/stage show delivery in their songs.
Well the songs a rocker alright.
It brings back memories of Val Kilmer performing a rockabilly song in the movie “Top Secret”.
A favourite because of the riffs and the vocal delivery. If there is a track to press play on, then this is definitely one of em.
And Angus delivers another underrated lead break.
In concert, Scott would often introduce “Problem Child” as being about Angus.
There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’
The 12 bar blues is back. Bands like Status Quo would build a career on tracks like this.
The rhythm is also very similar to that of “The Seventh Son” by Willie Dixon.
Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire)
It follows more of the same “Long Way To The Top” feel. But press play to hear the Chorus riff, as there’s a chord ringing out and then some arpeggios and single notes.
It can be supercharged with other slow blues songs they have done, like “The Jack” and “Night Prowler”
How good is the intro on this?
The bass plays a groove that is not typical of AC/DC. It’s almost funky like.
And when Bon Scott moves from his lower register to his higher register, the guitars become more aggressive and the drums get louder.
Angus again wails away on the guitar, delivering a very mature lead. It’s one of my favourite AC/DC cuts and it has been largely forgotten.
This is another track you shouldn’t ignore on this album.
In relation to sales it was a hit in Australia when it came out.
In the US, it was a different story.
Following the American success of “Highway to Hell” in late 1979, copies of the album began to appear as imports in the US.
Some of these were the original Australian edition on Albert Productions; however, Atlantic also pressed the international version in Australia, and many of these were also exported to the US.
Strong demand for both versions (in the wake of the even greater success of Back in Black) led the US division of Atlantic to finally authorize an official US release in March 1981. It went straight to No. 3 on the Billboard album charts.
In relation to sales, 6× Platinum in Australia and the US.
9 thoughts on “Australian Method Series: AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
There are some songs I like on this album and some that I don’t like on this album! I wouldn’t call it a terrible AC/DC album, but it’s not one I’d reach for often. But still, Atlantic shouldn’t have released ‘Dirty Deeds’ a year after ‘Back in Black’ because they just introduced Brian Johnson as the band’s new singer. Like you said, it also hurt the album sales for ‘For Those About to Rock,’ which is a shame because it’s my second favorite AC/DC album.
Labels are a business hey. Crude for sure.
This album in Australia is held in high regard.
The record labels can be annoying at times. I’m glad the American version got a better album cover at least. The Australian cover is um a bit odd.
The Australian cover rocks. Barroom brawler Bon Scott is ready to do ya Dirty Deeds.
Ok, I guess in a way, the Australian cover fits the album cover, but I just find it really goofy looking.
Goofy it is, like a newspaper cartoon. I suppose that is it’s charm to me.
This is such a great album and cool to hear the back story on why it was released when it was. I was unaware at the time. And on Dirty Deeds, that ain’t a phone number, those are the measures of the ideal woman…then…now you’d get busted by the #MeToo movement for even talking about a woman’s measurements.
Back in the summer of 81 I bought this right away as Back In Black was still selling like hotcakes so Dirty Deeds was the second album I ever bought of em.
Once u crossed Malcolm there was no going back ask the amount of managers they shit canned in about 5 years lol
Great writeup Pete..
The silent assassin in the background.