AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides of this copy of the band’s 1976 release
  • We learned something in this shootout about the Australian pressings that surprised us and may be of interest to you
  • These sides have plenty going on down low, real meat on the bones, all the life and energy you could ask for – pretty much everything that the average copy was lacking
  • 5 stars: “… it captured the seething malevolence of Bon Scott, the sense that he reveled in doing bad things, encouraged by the maniacal riffs of Angus and Malcolm Young who provided him with their most brutish rock & roll yet.”

Here’s what we wrote about the last Australian pressing we had on the site:

“This is a SUPER RARE Minty looking EMI Australian Import LP. We dropped the needle on this one and heard EXACTLY what we were looking for: loud grungy guitars; tight, punchy bass; and vocals so front and center the boys are practically in the room with you. There is NO QUESTION this bad boy is made from the original master tape. You can be sure the domestic pressings aren’t. The heavy vinyl pressing is no doubt made from a dub since almost everything made these days is.”

Well, folks, it’s not exactly a We Was Wrong situation, but we didn’t realize that master tape or not, the best domestic pressings rock harder and just plain sound better than the best Australian copies. The typical domestic copy sucks, but when you get hold of a seriously Hot one they are KILLER.

The better Aussie pressings give you incredible Master Tape clarity, but I’m more interested in hearing a copy that rocks my socks off with the kind of ballsy power you know these guys project when they play live. I can’t tell you if it’s a case of having better mastering equipment or better mastering engineers here in the States — we can’t know that stuff, we can only guess at it — but I can tell you with certainly that this blows the doors off most other pressings.

If you love this band as much as we do here at Better Records — Back in Black being a Top 100 Title — and have the kind of system a record like this demands, we ask only one small favor: please give your neighbors a heads up so they can be prepared for the sonic assault that is to come. And one more thing: For those about to rock, we salute you.

What the best sides of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1976
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vicals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Love at First Feel
Big Balls
Rocker
Problem Child

Side Two

There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’
Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)
Ride On
Squealer

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

There’s a real sense of menace to “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” the title song of AC/DC’s third album. More than most of their songs to date, it captured the seething malevolence of Bon Scott, the sense that he reveled in doing bad things, encouraged by the maniacal riffs of Angus and Malcolm Young who provided him with their most brutish rock & roll yet. But for as glorious as the title track was, the entire album served as a call to arms from a group that wanted nothing more than to celebrate the dirtiest, nastiest instincts humans could have, right down to the insurgent anti-authority vibe that runs throughout the record. Take “Big Balls” – sure, it’s a dirty joke, but it’s a dirty joke with class overthrow in mind.

There’s a sense on Dirty Deeds that AC/DC is storming the gates – they’re problem children sick of waiting around to be a millionaire, so they’re gonna make their own money, even if they take down others as they go. That’s what gives Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap its supercharged, nervy pulse; there’s a real sense of danger to this record, something that can’t be hidden beneath the jokes. Maybe that’s why the album wasn’t released in the US until 1981, after Bon’s death, after AC/DC had become millionaires – if it arrived any earlier, it would have been too insurrectionist for the common good.