AC/DCs Its A Long Way To The Top: a celebration of Bon Scotts bagpipe classic

Video Long way to the top bagpipe music

If you have been to decide on one track that the majority summed up the may and majesty of Bon Scott – who would have turned 75 this month – from the entire classic-stuffed catalogue of AC/DC’s early years, the selection is clear. It’s not ‘TNT’. It’s not ‘Jailbreak’. It’s not ‘Complete Lotta Rosie’ or ‘Let There Be Rock’ or ‘Soiled Deeds Accomplished Filth Low cost’ and even ‘Freeway To Hell’.

The final word Bon track is inarguably ‘It’s A Lengthy Manner To The Prime (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll)’. And that is sensible as a result of actually, is there a greater rock track? Which may sound like a rhetorical query, however the reply isn’t any. No, there may be not.

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It’s a track that speaks to each musician who has ever lugged a drum equipment right into a venue or fallen asleep on an interstate white-knuckle drive to yet one more non-paying gig. It’s an anthem for each globe-spanning rock star and each pub-gig wannabe, pricking the glamorous fairytale of rock stardom whereas concurrently making it much more gloriously mythic.

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‘It’s A Lengthy Manner To The Prime’ was a direct traditional upon its launch in 1975 and was the track that remodeled AC/DC from an unknown Australian band into a worldwide rock juggernaut the next yr. Greater hits adopted, however this was the track that kicked the door open.

There’s one other essential legacy to the track which doesn’t get sufficient credit score: the random bagpipe break. That took place because of producer George Younger – Angus and Malcolm’s massive brother, who was additionally a bonafide rock star himself because of his time within the Easybeats. He discovered that Bon had been in a pipe band in his youth and instantly requested him to bust out some bagpipe magic on the track. Bon enthusiastically agreed – with out telling George that he’d by no means performed the instrument in his life as he’d been a drummer in mentioned band. However he promptly received maintain of some pipes and discovered tips on how to play them, as a result of he was Bon Scott and naturally he did.

This arbitrary determination was to have surprising and far-reaching penalties for Australian music within the following decade, as two different stone-cold Australian classics subsequently added pipe breaks as a sly musical nod to ‘It’s A Lengthy Manner To The Prime’: John Farnham recruited 4 pipers to enliven ‘You’re The Voice’ in 1986, and the Church blended a bagpipe (performed backwards) into the swirling bridge of ‘Beneath The Milky Manner’ two years later.

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After which there’s the music video, which has a legacy of its personal. It was knocked up on a budget for Countdown, with the present’s common director Paul Drane filming the band rocking out on the again of a flatbed truck driving down Swanston Avenue. (A brief road close to Swanston, additionally dwelling to famed dwell venue Cherry Bar, was renamed ACDC Lane in tribute to its proximity to the clip.) And which means that the clip is technically the property of the ABC and thus the Australian public, which appears becoming.

‘It’s A Lengthy Manner To The Prime’ is a track with a wealthy legacy. But, AC/DC don’t play it dwell. Why?

AC/DC slowly chugging down one among Melbourne’s most recognisable drags, surrounded by members of the Rats of Tobruk pipe band: it’s an iconic picture, and it has attracted various copycats. On the plus facet, it was recreated for the Save Stay Australian Music marketing campaign in 2010, with the Rockwiz Orchestra taking part in on a truck whereas 1000’s marched down Swanston Avenue to protest proposed adjustments to licensing legal guidelines for venues.

Alternatively, it’s been aped by bands trying to seize some low-cost magic-by-association: the Smith Avenue Band’s ‘Shine’, for instance, the place Footscray’s predominant drag didn’t fairly supply the identical grandeur as Swanston, whereas of their ‘Runnin’ Wild’ video Airbourne continued their career-long AC/DC worship by taking part in inside a giant rig pushed by Lemmy from Motörhead, with Los Angeles police sizzling on their tail.

All of that’s to say: ‘It’s A Lengthy Manner To The Prime’ is a track with a wealthy legacy. And but, AC/DC don’t play it dwell, and haven’t achieved in over 40 years.

Why? Properly, there are a number of causes.

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Most significantly, after Bon’s tragic loss of life in 1980, aged 33, his substitute Brian Johnson expressly declined to sing it, citing his love and respect for his late predecessor and insisting it could be disrespectful to carry out Bon’s signature track.

And that’s genuinely candy, however it has additionally been recommended that there have been a number of different extra sensible components to the choice.

The story goes that the remainder of AC/DC – particularly the Younger brothers – discovered the track a problem to play dwell as a result of they must tune their guitars to the droning intonation of Bon’s bagpipes. On document, for instance, the track is performed in the important thing of A, however the band needed to tune their guitars as much as B flat to match the pipes within the studio. Bon himself reportedly grew to seek out it a chore too, not least as a result of his performances typically left him with little breath to expend on the pipes.

AC/DC portrait in London 1976
Phil Rudd, Bon Scott, Angus Younger, Mark Evans and Malcolm Younger. Credit score: Michael Putland/Getty Photographs

The query was lastly rendered moot when Bon left his pipes too near the stage one night time and the gang gleefully tore them to shreds – which, to be honest, is a pure response to being confronted with bagpipes.

And with out suggesting that ego may play an element within the selections of what songs go within the AC/DC set, it’s price noting that ‘It’s A Lengthy Manner To The Prime’ is exclusive within the band’s catalogue in that it’s a showcase for just about everybody besides Angus Younger. Bon’s peerless vocal apart, the track’s engine is Malcolm Younger’s chugging chords whereas the rhythm part nail that just-behind-the-beat stomp ’n’ swagger.

In the meantime, the lead guitar… um, does some tasteful licks. There’s no wild solo or killer lead riff. No different AC/DC track has so little Younger and a lot Scott, and let’s be sincere: Angus hasn’t precisely shared the highlight with another member since.

Stage or no stage, nonetheless, ‘It’s A Lengthy Manner To The Prime’ has a life all its personal. And Johnson might have dodged a bullet by refusing to attempt to out-Bon Bon on the Bonnest track the band ever did. That vocal efficiency? Let you know, people: it’s more durable than it seems…

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