One doesn't so much review an AC/DC album as just tell the listener what songs are on it. Stiff Upper Lip, highly anticipated at the time of its release, has since been overshadowed by the more recent Black Ice. I prefer Stiff Upper Lip simply because it channels the early rock and roll Bon Scott era sound of the band.
My first AC/DC album was Dirty Deeds, I grew up listening to Bon, and Stiff Upper Lip is the most rock and roll sounding AC/DC album since his death. Dropping a lot of the OTT metal tones of previous discs, this one is a more laid back groove. Check out "Hold Me Back" and the title track for some truly sublime Young Bros guitar playing. Phil Rudd's simple rhythms hold everything together.
The album was produced by Vanda and Young, and while it's not as crisp and clear as the Rubin helmed Black Ice, they captured great performances. Not every song here is a winner, most Johnson-era albums have lots of filler. However, this is AC/DC and even the filler is listenable if not memorable.
I'm not too sure why this was remastered. I really fail to see why an album less than 10 years old needs this. Keep in mind, CD remastering began because in the 80's, engineers didn't really know how to master music for the high fidelity of CD, they were used to LP. Early CDs tend to sound a bit tinny. Stiff Upper Lip was recorded in 2000. Basically, the only reason to prefer the remaster to the original is the nicer packaging.
When I need to hear some more recent AC/DC, 9 times out of 10, I reach for Stiff Upper Lip. 4 stars.
on June 12, 2004
Stiff Upper Lip, AC/DC's 15th studio album, may not reach the heights of Back in Black or Highway to Hell, but it delivers strongly and satisfyingly. It's the record that the highly-touted, Rick Rubin-produced Ballbreaker should have been: a simple, addictive, hard album, bursting with bold riffs and bolstered by a crunching, thrillingly visceral sound. Sure, there are absolutely no new ideas, but that's the point. AC/DC knows their strengths and they embrace them. And why shouldn't they? Nobody writes a better riff than the Young brothers; each song has a riff so catchy, it feels like you've heard it for years. Is there anything earth-shaking? Hardly, but it's largely terrific nonetheless, just because AC/DC are so good at what they do. It's simple music, to be sure, but it's unassumingly musical and, in a way rather smart. If making music like this was really that easy, why can't anybody else do it this well? Some bands are capable of knocking out one record like this -- one, maybe two. AC/DC does it nearly every time out. They've never really stretched, yet that's why they have one of the most reliable catalogs in rock & roll. When you put on one of their records, you know what you're in for, and they always deliver. With Stiff Upper Lip, they're not at classic status, but they're still top-notch. This may not be the first AC/DC record for a collection, but once you're into their scene, it's a fine place to be.
on March 9, 2003
There exists today an entire army of reviewers ready to dismiss every AC/DC outing as "the same old thing."
There is no problem with "the same old thing" when the same old thing is simple perfection. By contrast, the last few AC/DC albums have suffered from a bit of an identity crisis; they attempted to layer heavy-handed production on what is essentialy a straight-ahead blues band, more closely related to B.B. King than to the mass of '80s hair-metal bands that are all but extinct today.
George Young's production on Stiff Upper Lip brings to the forefront those strengths which make AC/DC the undisputed kings of blues-metal: the Young brothers' simple, undeniable blue-collar riffs and Malcolm Young's working-class voice. Tracks like Stiff Upper Lip and Hold Me Back are toe-tapping, head-bobbing, hammer-pounding hard-working songs the likes of which can be found nowhere else in record stores today. There hasn't been an AC/DC album (or indeed any album) like this in years, and that's a shame.
What a good thing we have this one to listen to!
on September 29, 2001
I've been a life-long AC/DC fan, in the purest sense. I've never lost faith in them, even throughout the 80's and 90's when their albums decreased in quality and they became more or less professional entertainers more than anything else. I mean, these days going to see AC/DC is... well, "going to see AC/DC", you know? They have long since ceased to be a real, live rock-n-roll outfit... or have they?
All I'm trying to say is that this album really kills. I mean, for real. This is the real deal. These guys have gone completely around the world and back... from hungry rock and roll pioneers, to well-fed and complacent, to... being AC/DC damn it. I don't know how else to say it. This is AC/DC doing... AC/DC. This is AC/DC simply trying to be AC/DC. They haven't felt this natural in years. All y'all who've dissed our man Brain Johnson (myself included) can all go suck on a gym sock because damn it, the guy is cool and this music proves it.
Of course, this review would not be complete without mentioning the inclusion of third Young brother George Young behind the boards. This the first record he's produced during the Brian Johnson era, and it makes me wonder where the hell he's been (or where Angus and Malcolm's heads have been). These guys haven't felt so alive since I can't remember when. All I can say is I hope the next one is as good. God bless AC/DC.
on July 19, 2001
I was 22 years old, I was never really interested in music at all. Then I saw AC/DC performing the song "Stiff Upper Lip" on MTV's TRL and my life was changed at that moment. This album was my first proper introduction to AC/DC and after a year of listening to this album, It Rocks!! "Lip" truly has some classic rock n roll tunes. On "Stiff Upper Lip", AC/DC sound suprisingly vibrant & inspired, as opposed to the plodding of "Ballbreaker" which was a pressured album release. Even though Brian Johnson should still see a throat specialist, his vocals are much improved. After 20 years of wear & tear, Johnson still shreds his pipes with unmatched intensity, which means more to me than any imperfection in his voice. Even though Bon Scott was by far AC/DC's strongest lyricist, At age 52, vocally Brian Johnson can still easily overpower Scott. And that's where the the album has its few shortcomings, the lyrics, as with almost any other post-Bon Scott album. "Damned", House of Jazz, Meltdown, & Come and Get It, all have great riffs, but not so great lyrics. OTHER THAN THAT, "Stiff Upper Lip" has some of the strongest AC/DC tunes in almost a decade, "Safe In New York City" has the best groove of the album from beginning to end, Rudd, Williams, and Malcolm Young lay it down, while Angus Young tears up the fretboard with a blistering solo and Brian Johnson punctuate the song with reckless and unrestrained intensity, "I FEEL SAFE IN A CAGE IN NEW YORK CIITTYY!! Throw Away the Key!"......"Can't Stand Still" really displays a fresh and clever way of playing a good ol' 50's rock n roll tune, this song could easily revive Chuck Berry's career.......Now "Hold Me Back" & "Stiff Upper Lip" (their ode to Elvis Presley) are truly two of the strongest songs AC/DC have ever recorded, undoubtedly equal to anything on "Highway to Hell, Back In Black or Razor's Edge". If you've never liked AC/DC, "Lip" won't change your mind. If you consider yourself an AC/DC fan and do not instantly like this album, Guess What? You're not an AC/DC fan, the fact of it is you were never an AC/DC fan because there is simply nothing to dislike about this album. "Stiff Upper Lip" rocks with a passion and it's the essence of AC/DC.
on July 7, 2001
When I first heard this album, I gave it an honest listen. I mean we all know what to expect when we buy an AC DC album. It was slower and bluesier than earlier releases. That's not a bad thing, in fact this album continues in the vein of what one would expect from AC DC. In fact after listening to it a couple of times, you can almost imagine how the album came about.....
Ring, ring, ring,
Brian : Hello?
Angus : Brian? This is Angus, hey Malcolm and I are sitting around the house drinking Foster's and playing our guitars, you wanna come over?
Brian : Sure, I'll be right there.
Two hours later, the tapes from the living room and brought to the studio for Cliff and Phil to finish. Yeah, it's a pretty laid back album.
Now on stage it's a different story. I saw the Stiff Upper Lip Tour in Ft Lauderdale this year, and let me tell you, AC DC hasn't lost a step. All their classics, Angus' antics, Brian's screaming, and the rhythm section's thunderous noise is all there. I hadn't seen AC DC in over ten years, but they still played like they were on the Back In Black tour. They were on stage like a hungry bunch of twenty year olds trying to get signed. If you've never seen AC DC in concert, you're missing one hell of a rush. The only song they played off Stiff Upper Lip was the title track, but that's OK, they have a very long songlist to choose from.
I hope these guys go on forever.
on April 26, 2001
Stiff Upper Lip is AC/DC's best album in a long time. While all of their other albums throughout the 80's and 90's have been good Stiff Upper Lip blows them all away. AC/DC manages to start 2000 on a high note with one of the best albums of the year. Singer Brian Johnson's voice seems to have gotten more powerful since the Ballbreaker album, just when everyone was doubting him he comes back and surprises everyone. As far as the band what else can be said, they've been making the same style of music for almost 30 years and they still sound great. This is Phil Rudd's second album back with the band, and he and bassist Cliff Williams prove that they are one of the greatest rhythm sections of all time, and of course you can't forget rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, he is one of the most underrated rhythm players ever. Then of course there's lead guitarist Angus Young, what else can be said about him, besides the fact that he's one of the greatest guitarists of our time, with his simple blues based riffs and solos he's gained respect from many other musicians for playing under his ability. It is also the reason why he's also very underrated, as the whole band is. Stiff Upper Lip was produced by George Young, brother of Angus and Malcolm, who produced their early albums. You can expect from this album what you'd expect from any other AC/DC album. It's very much blues rock, so if you didn't like them before the odds are that this album won't do it for you. There are many upbeat rockers on this album such as the title track, Safe in New York City, Can't Stop Rock and Roll, Satellite Blues, Damned, Give It Up and All Screwed Up. There are also some laid back songs that are very bluesy such as Meltdown, House of Jazz, Can't Stand Still, and Come And Get It. Stiff Upper Lip is a great album, the best AC/DC has put out in years, but like I said before if you don't already like AC/DC this album probably won't change your mind, but if you do like them definately get this one.
on March 22, 2000
The thunder from Down Under has returned, and this time they brought the big guns (sorry, no AC/DC pun intended). What makes this album is not, as many reviews and editorials would like us to believe, the return to a more original line up, but rather the return of older brother George, of the famed Young clan. George Young's dedication to rhythm, syncopation and tone lead the band away from the usual blistering rock anthem to the birth of one the band's finer, more articulate albums in the history of AC/DC. In listening to "Stiff Upper Lip," I felt that this album was more of a tribute to not only themselves as a band but also to their influences. Following their 1995 (in my humble opinion) failure "Ballbreaker," the boys got back to what counts--the music. And although the lyrics of this album are consistently AC/DC (songs about drinking, women, rock n roll or some combination thereof), the guitar work is some of the band's more inspiring yet down-to-basics, gritty rhythm and blues rock that we, as consumers, have at our disposal. In listening to "Stiff Upper Lip", I became aware that each track could very well be found on another album, sort of a tribute to their own progression. For example: the title track could easily be from "For Those About to Rock-We Salute You," "Meltdown" has the making of a "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" song, "House of Jazz;" "Flick of the Switch," "Hold Me Back" off of "Fly On the Wall," and so on and so forth. These references are of course suggestions and the rest of the world's die-hard AC/DC fans might disagree with these correlations, but you should get the point. This is the first AC/DC album worth owning since "The Razor's Edge" and if you're low on funds sell your copy of "Ballbreaker." "Stiff Upper Lip" is worthy of its place in any rock anthology. It may not be your favorite now, but in a few years' time when you're looking for something else to listen to other than Ricky Martin and the Backdoor Boys this album will be what you reach for.
on March 6, 2000
I was fully prepared to be disappointed when I bought this album, as their last album Ballbreaker had a very gloomy, depressing sound with matching lyrics. It did have 2 good songs in Burning Alive and Hard As A Rock, but many of the songs were frankly weird, and Brian Johnson's voice made even a die-hard fan like me squirm in my seat. After the first listen, I was ready to trash SUL for it's boring lyrics and repetitive sound - but for whatever reason, I found myself wanting to listen again an hour later. The second time, I cranked it up louder, and what I had previously criticized - now had an completely addictive quality! Angus and Malcolm are brilliant on this album, with no wasted motion, and the drumming is infectious and had me tapping my foot on most of the songs. Additionally, Brian Johnson's voice is improved! It's a mixed bag, but on a few tracks like "Give It Up", he is reminiscent of his Back In Black style where he sang right with Angus on songs like "Shoot To Thrill". He definitely made more of an effort. This is easily the best produced album since Back In Black, everything sounds clear and dynamic. I love Satellite Blues, and enjoy all the songs with the exception of "I'll Be Damned", and "Come and Get It", as they drag a bit, but even these songs are not throw ins or filler, and other listeners may like their style. Truly, the only thing that can be criticized are the repetitiveness of some of the songs, and the repetitive lyrics, but you'll soon realize that the boys had a reason for this - they wanted to create addictive rhythmic tracks that continue to build to the end of the song. None of these songs have the emotion and power of "Back In Black", but they are all excellent Rock and Roll songs, with a lot of attention to simply making songs that sound good - and are fun and definitely not pretentious. If something sounds good, and you want to hear it again and again through the years, it's not simple - it's good and skilled work. That's what you'll get if you buy Stiff Upper Lip, an album you'll still listen to after 5 years.
on March 4, 2000
What can you expect from a bunch of old rockers...that they slow down ? In AC/DC's case that's the fact, they've become just a bit slower, a bit bluesier and even more minimalistic than they were on their last albums. Having said that: understand that I don't find it negative, they did it WITHOUT losing the power in their songs or the ability to rock your socks of.
Anybody who's able to stand still, whilst listening to "Can't stand still" has a serious problem, the same goes for "Hold me back" and "Stiff upper lip". You'll find yourself singing along with "House of jazz" and "Safe in New York city" before you know it.
After you've experienced this album, you'll know what these Aussies have been doing during the last 5 years : Brian Johnson has been using grinding sand on his vocal cords (and some of that is still there), Phill Rudd has found a way to trap thunder in his drumkit (he's still got me wondering how he got so much power in his drumming), the Young brothers have perfected their ESP-talents to get perfect harmony in their guitarplay and Cliff Williams found a way to get an even higher voltage on his bass-guitar.
I don't know if they've planned a tour following this album, but if they come playing anywhere near the Netherlands : you'll find me there !