Can it really be ten years since Airbourne kicked in the door without knocking and spat out debut album ‘Runnin’ Wild’? Christ, that was ten years that flew by in a haze of beer cans arcing their way off the stage, lighting rigs getting climbed on, and more AC/DC comparisons than you can shake a shitty stick at. Easily one of the most electrifying live bands currently treading the boards. If Airbourne are on the bill, you know that the night will pass in a blur. Ask Black Stone Cherry, as they had the unenviable task of following the Aussies on several occasions. As Joel O’Keeffe made his way through the throngs on someone’s shoulders riffing like a lunatic, the Kentuckians must have been backstage thinking, “How do we follow that?” Easy… they couldn’t. Same with festivals, you can actually feel the deflation in the atmosphere once Airbourne leave the stage bruised and bloodied, but that is also the main obstacle that Airbourne have to contend with. How do you capture the raw energy and sheer bravado that the band produces on a live stage in a studio setting? Again, easy… you can’t… and to be fair, the band probably know that. Airbourne on disc is still a formidable whirlwind of energy, and this collection is a timely reminder of that.
‘Diamond Cuts’ is made up of the first three Airbourne albums, the debut ‘Runnin’ Wild’, ‘No Guts. No Glory’, and ‘Black Dog Barking’. A four disc of B-sides and unreleased tracks adds to the bundle as does the documentary DVD ‘It’s All For Rock & Roll’. As far as debuts go ‘Runnin’ Wild’ was a little ripper. ‘Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is like a shot of adrenaline, and basically set the stall out for what is the Airbourne sound. Full throttle, heads down rock n’ roll, with gang vocals thrown in, just in case you didn’t hear them the first time. There are so many gems on this album, but none better than the boogie of ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’, although the Lemmy-approved title track runs it a close second. ‘No Guts. No Glory’, while not as immediate as the debut, did have some bangers, such as ‘No Way But The Hard Way’ and ‘Raise The Flag’. By now, everyone knew what to expect from Airbourne, as they rapidly became part of the establishment. Album number three ‘Black Dog Barking’ was a step up from its predecessor, as the opening blast of ‘Ready To Rock’, ‘Animalize’ and ‘No One (Fits Me Better Than You)’ proved it’s worth. So, what of the extra disc? The barometer for extra tracks is; would they have added something missing from the album that the sessions spawned? Probably not, but they’re bloody good fun all the same. ‘Stand And Deliver’ is thankfully not an Adam Ant cover, but more of the usual 100mph Airbourne. The drum sound is as nailed on as you expect from an Aussie bar band. ‘Red Dress Woman’ is pure shuffling boogie that has the simplest of guitar riffs throughout, and shows yet again how much of an influence Chuck Berry actually was to everyone. The Finbar Saunders double-entendres laden ‘My Dynamite Will You Blow You Sky High (And Get Ya Moanin’ After Midnight)’, ‘Rattle Your Bones’, and ‘You Got The Skills (To Pay The Bills)’ pretty much sums up Airbourne. If they offend you, you are in the wrong place listening to the wrong band. The two new previously unreleased tracks, ‘Heavy Weight Lover’ and ‘Money’ are pretty much standard fare Airbourne. That is not meant as a slight on the band in any way, shape, or form. With these guys you know exactly what you are getting, and any deviation would be unexpected, and probably unwanted. Rock N’ Roll is supposed to be uncomplicated, and Airbourne prove that time and time again. Special mention to the right-here-right-now recording of ‘Devil’s Child’, a short sharp shock to the system… a musical kick in the dick.
‘Diamond Cuts is available now. For more information, see Facebook.
Review: Dave Stott