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The Guitarist Of The Year: 2. Angus Young

Just you try and slow him down: Angus Young is a force of nature, immune to age and armed with a fresh arsenal of sky splitting riffs.

Friday, 2. January 2015  -  by  David Hayter
Photo Credits: Twak

There are no two ways about it: Angus Young must know the exact location of the fountain of youth. He might bear the scars of 40 years spent on the road from Sao Paolo to Sydney, rocking every arena and downing every shot slid his way, but looks can be deceiving. No mortal man is capable of produce fifteen albums worth of spleen squelching, upholstery obliterating riffs, without missing a beat or falling foul of public opinion. Angus Young defies both nature and mythic rock lore.

The guitarist who turns 60 in March should be receiving a patronizing pat on the head from his friends in the media as he struggles to recapture his former glories. He most certainly should not be goose stepping across the dance floor on “Rock The House” or throwing concrete encrusted daggers on “Rock or Bust”. Cinema suggests some kind of deal with the devil, but neither luck nor mythology can explain away the endurance of Angus Young’s genius. Every fibre in his being intrinsically understands rock music; a born showman he invented half the tropes his youthful peers now emulate and, in the studio, he remains a maverick capable of reinventing the wheel a million times or more.

Young is confounding precisely because he refuses to rip up the rulebook or sidestep expectation. Instead, he stares his critics dead in the eye and delivers another 35-minute slab of sumptuous grooves and frayed-at-the-fringes solos. Given that his weapon of choice remains the sledgehammer - the monolithic thump of the riff unwritten by a little southern-fried sway and plenty of room to breathe - it’s amazing AC/DC don’t grind to a monotonous halt. Instead, exhilaration is ensured by fearsome timing, scientific vigour masquerading as devil-worshiping anarchy: the change of pace always arrives right on cue – expectedly unexpected.

Angus may be miraculous, but he is no miracle worker and while the insatiable quality of Rock or Busts riffs are never in question, Brian Johnson cannot quite keep pace. Young may have an infinite supply of licks, but it would appear there are only so many hooks and tales of debauchery to go around. This is no knock on Young himself (or even AC/DC as a whole), but it is enough to deny the living legend Guitar Planet’s top honour – if only by a hair’s breadth and absolutely nothing more.

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