Released: 2011, Bazillion Points
Last month was Maiden Month, so this month is AC/DC month! I’m taking a look at four AC/DC related books this month. Feel free to also check out my reviews of DIRTY DEEDS (Evans), LET THERE BE ROCK (Masino), TWO SIDES TO EVERY GLORY (Stenning) and HIGH VOLTAGE ROCK AND ROLL (Sutcliffe)
When I first got this book I admit I was mildly skeptical as a reader about how much value or validity the life-story of Mark Evans would have. Is this just another guy who wants to cash in on the current global success of AC/DC because he was in the band for five minutes, almost 40 years ago? I had the same misgivings about the Al Atkins (Judas Priest) autobiography as well and much like the Atkins book (DAWN OF THE METAL GODS) I was very pleased to show that my initial skepticism was unfounded, as DIRTY DEEDS turns out to be quite an interesting look at the early days of the band.
Evans was the bassist in AC/DC from March 1975 to May 1977 just over two years of a whirlwind of activity. Perhaps my initial assessment of ‘five minutes’ was unfair. Mark spends the vast majority of this good looking, 270 page book talking about those two years. The first 50 pages or so cover his early years in a conventional autobiography format; linear narrative of his childhood. He had quite a measure of independence at an early age, having his own place and job at age 15! Evans has a few years of football, drinking, working odd jobs and drinking with the boys at the pool hall, and by the end of Chapter Two, he is in the band and this is where the story takes off.
In today’s modern era, recording music is very different. Often today the ‘average’ band will make an album every two years more. Back then in his brief tenure, the band wrote and recorded HIGH VOLTAGE, DIRY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP, LET THERE BE ROCK and some misc. stuff that showed up on the ’74 JAILBREAK. Now add two trips to England, several European and Australian tours adding up to hundreds of gigs, these guys were incredibly busy. No wonder everyone felt burned out! Chapters Three through Ten provide an incredible amount of detail about the inner workings of the band. Evans provides a ton of intimate detail without ever compromising the highly private and insular nature of the Young clan. It is interesting to see an alternate perspective that does not put Angus and co. on this massive pedestal like the cover art of STIFF UPPER LIP. It is not that Evans is bitter but he was never truly a part of the machine, he didn’t write too much, write lyrics, didn’t sing, he just played bass and got dragged along in the gears of the machine. Many of his adventures with Bon Scott sound very bohemian and incredibly fun!
DIRTY DEEDS is loaded with photos of the early days of the band, many that I have never seen before. The book is well-laid out and easy to read, aided by Evans simple and non-pretentious writing style. The last two chapters, 50 pages or so, cover the years from 1977 to 2007. In the intervening years between his dismissal from the band in 1977 he ever so briefly touches on his life, hobbies, marriage, love for rare guitars, working in the industry and even playing a bit of acoustic blues-based rock. I had forgotten that after AC/DC Evans gave it another go with the band Contraband and then Heaven with another American tour. I think he could have expanded this section a bit more as these years from 1997-1984 or so he was a working, touring musician but it gets glossed over. I would have liked to hear more about his experiences on the Kiss UNMASKED tour and the Black Sabbath BORN AGAIN tour. He also touches on the Death of his friend Bon Scott in this final section as well. The book ends rather abruptly on a tragic note with the death of his eldest daughter in a freak accident in Europe in 2007.
As mentioned in my introductory comments, there have been a ton of books about AC/DC and until very recently (with the publication of Brian Johnson’s book) I believe this is the first book written by an actual member of the band. It’s a great read focusing on what most AC/DC fans would want to read, not so much about Mark himself but that ‘magical’ era of the band and the legend and nostalgia of the Bon Scott years.