Wednesday, January 26, 2011

SDTK: AC/DC


"Who Made Who" 1986
Soundtrack to Maximum Overdrive

Opting for a rockin’ soundtrack over a more traditional orchestral score is nothing new. Filmmakers and studios have been doing it since the late 1960’s when rock ‘n’ roll came into commercial prominence. Whether in an effort to promote artists featured on the studio owned record label or to fulfill the filmmaker’s vision, pre-recorded songs have become a staple in setting the tone and mood in contemporary cinema for the last forty years. With seventy-five soundtrack and film appearances under their belt, Australian rock legends, AC/DC, seem to be the go to guys if your film needs to bash some heads. Their stripped down, hard rockin’ riffs and driving rhythms make them ideal for captivating the essence of certain genres, characters, and editing techniques.

Since the 1970’s AC/DC has been composing some of the most commercially acceptable, yet genuinely credible rock songs, ever. Their style has been established since day one with Bon Scott behind the microphone and any and all success has been earned based on the bands musical integrity. They’ve never compromised for the sake of sales. After their initial inception the band peaked with the post Scott release, Back in Black (1980), which went on to become the second best selling album of all time, after Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982).


Aside from the concert film, Let There Be Rock: The Movie (1980), AC/DC had only a handful of soundtrack credits. It wasn’t until horror author turned momentary filmmaker, Stephen King, had them do the soundtrack for his film Maximum Overdrive (1986), that AC/DC really broke through the cinematic pop culture barrier. Their 1986 release, Who Made Who, which acts as the films soundtrack, featured a handful of new songs written for the film, including the title track, plus several of their greatest hits up to that point.

Throughout the 1990’s, thanks in part to Beavis and Butt-Head and a killer live album, AC/DC experienced a resurgence in popularity that has not yet dwindled. They wrote the theme song for Last Action Hero (1994), were featured in a cast-wide sing-a-long in Empire Records (1995), and appeared in Howard Stern’s biopic Private Parts (1997). Considering the only reason these movies are being mentioned is because of AC/DC it is clear that their presence makes any film better, if only by association.

In the past twenty-five years AC/DC has been featured in everything from the Hollywood soundtracks and films, to television shows, cartoons, sporting events, and even videogames. Their songs Highway to Hell and Back in Black are synonymous with the band, having been featured in more than ten separate titles, each. Most recently AC/DC released another soundtrack album for Iron Man II (2010). Similar to Who Made Who, the album acts an unofficial greatest hits release, since it contains no new material, and only two songs featured in the actual film.

They may be cashing in on the abundant creativity of their youth, but you can’t argue with results. AC/DC still out sells, out draws, and out plays any act they’re up against. Constant current exposure through such outlets as film soundtracks is what keeps them going. Regardless of that they’re doing, at this stage in their career it is more important what they have done.

For those who want to rock be sure to check out the thrash metal documentary
RIPHOUSE 151: Could’ve Been’s & Wanna Be’s (2008).

1 comment:

  1. I saw that "Who Made Who" tour in Oct. 86' with Mike and Al Conti and Bobby Cook at the Nassau Colisseum. Good Stuff!!! Cool piece Pete.

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