By 1979, Anglo-Australians AC/DC had broken into the European market having spent a while establishing themselves in the UK. Although a more accurate description for them would have been ‘hard rhythm & blues’, the British music press unimaginatively lumped them in with the Heavy Rock brand for convenient marketing purposes. Whatever, I got onto them pretty quickly and by 1979 I’d heard everything from ‘Dirty Deeds’ to ‘Highway To Hell’. If there’s one drummer every drummer should listen to for a lesson in swing, groove, taste and perfect economic playing, it has to be Phil Rudd.
To put it bluntly, no one and I mean NO ONE, swings like Phil Rudd.
You can’t learn what he has from cyber-drum-lessons or tuition DVD’s; there is ONLY ONE Phil Rudd and he is the best clock AC/DC have ever had; and will ever have.
My two favourite AC/DC albums to this day remain as, ‘If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)’ and ‘Highway To Hell’. Unfortunately, following the untimely death of Bon Scott, it was game over for me. No disrespect to the mighty fine Brian Johnson, but in my eyes, the Scott era DC were the mutt’s (Lange?) nuts. Despite my reservations toward the post-Scott AC/DC, the heartbeat Rudd has always laid down and the musical connection he maintains between Cliff Williams and Malcolm Young in the rhythm section are quite simply, perfection, never bettered. Just listen to the breakdown segment of ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ from the ‘If You Want Blood’ live album where Rudd, Williams and Young create a simple, but perfect foundation to underpin Angus Young’s solo Blues phrasing. For me, that has to be one of the best passages of live music ever committed to tape as a lesson in selfless musicianship.
Although I haven’t been an active AC/DC fan since 1980, there remains an awful lot of respect in my heart for a band that chose to keep going after their inimitable and somewhat notorious front-man had passed on; plus a whole lot of drum-affection for Phil Rudd. If any of us ever doubt what a drummer’s role should be in a band, they only need listen to Phil Rudd as he pretty much covers the A to Z of requirements.