|Mark Evans, second from left, with the Neil Young "Harvest Moon" t-shirt.|
So what gigantic rock legend are we talking about? They've certainly gotta be one of "the bigs" the way I've built it up and all. Drum roll, please!
Mark who, you ask? Those few of you who do know him and revere his work keep your traps shut, your gold stars are in the mail.
Mark Evans, the muggafuggin' bass player in AC/DC during their early rise to fame across their homeland of Australia and, oddy enough, the UK. That's him holding down the bottom end on the albums TNT, High Voltage,and Let There Be Rock, not to mention the posthumous U.S. release of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, a.k.a. the amazing 1976 album that the suits at Atlantic U.S. incredulously sat on for almost five years and finally released only after singer Bon Scott had passed away.
So how could a book by the bass player who got kicked out before the band got famous possibly be worth your time?
This is the same question that actually kept me from grabbing the book sooner, curse my judgmental self! I too thought "It should be good, but what if it isn't? I've been hurt too many times."
But then one day, exhausted from plowing my way through a half dozen or so entrepreneurial books, I was looking for something a little lighter. Amazon, of course, kept reminding me the book was still in my cart from three months prior. In fact, on this day, they were notifying me that the price of the book had gone down and that it could now be purchased for, ahem, a song.
Before I'd finished clicking the "Complete Purchase" button, the post man was handing me the book. Next thing I'm on my front porch in my pajamas giving the book a quick glance. Six hours later, I'm still on the porch and growing slowly depressed with the turn of every page because it means that one of the most entertaining books I've read in a long time will come to an end.
I find myself starting to hate Angus and Malcolm for kicking Evans to the curb in '77 and robbing me of further chapters of this gripping rock & roll page-turner. Those sonsabitches.
I dare even recite one story because to do so would mean grabbing the book for accuracy and saying adios to the rest of the afternoon. Ah, but what a wonderful afternoon it would be.
Okay, here's what I can tell you without relapsing:
1. If you wanna come to love the uniquely talented and free-spirited nature of Bon Scott, yet get a real feel for his inner loneliness and insecurities, this book will speak to you.
2. If you want to literally feel like you are there in every packed club and recording studio and band house squabble, this book will make you delirious.
3. If you want to learn how the Young brothers, with their older sibling George (of the Easybeats), initially ran the AC/DC creative and recording process more like a Dr. Luke pop assembly line than a raucous, but comical street-tough blues band, this book will have your jaw on the floor.
4. If you want an excuse to drag out those early AC/DC records and need something to do with your eyes while the rest of your head gets off on the music, this book is your enabler.
Well, shit, now I've gone and done it. Let There Be Rock (the album) is calling my name, beckoning me from the very front of the "A" crate. Sure, alphabetically speaking, ABBA and ABC should go in front of AC/DC, but I'm not about to put anybody in front of AC-muggafuggin'-DC, which is why I no longer own any ABBA or ABC records. Yeah, yeah, my loss.
It's on this listen that I'm reminded how Let There Be Rock had been the first AC/DC album to get any real action on American radio. Our local AOR radio station played the hell out of the record and they were generally the last station on the planet to add something new to the playlist, which was already on the stale side long before it came to be known as "classic rock". There was something about AC/DC that stuck out from the Deep Purples and James Gangs of the time.
I'm stunned to see that the album's highest peak position in the U.s. was #154. Can you fuggin' believe that? An album with the songs "Let There Be Rock" AND "Whole Lotta Rosie" didn't even break the Top 40 in the States, yet has sold 2 million copies to date. Only in America.
As I listen, I'm paying attention to the bass playing, trying to get my head around exactly what Mark Evans brought to the band because I do believe that those early records may not have been as good with someone else playing bass. It certainly wasn't the backing vocals, which was the official reason the Young brothers gave Evans when they canned his ass.
If you've spent too much time with the Brian-era albums, the first thing Let There Be Rock will do is knock your proverbial dick in the dirt with its bluesy swing and breakneck tempos (well, compared to "Hells Bells" and "Let me Put My Love Into You"). Evans' bass playing stays just ahead enough of the groove to give blues romps like "Go Down" and "Bad Boy Boogie" an almost punk intensity.
And that's when it dawns on me: With Evans, AC/DC was a fuggin' blues rock band that took that train about as far as it could go with him. If they wanted to reach the next rung on the ladder of success, they'd have to trade in a little piece of their heart & soul to get there. Adios Evans.
A lesser man would be bitter and spend much of the band railing against the band members who done him wrong, but Evans remains admirably matter-of-fact in the re-telling of what could understandably be an emotionally-charged subject for him. It is here where Evans' true talent lies and what ultimately sets his book apart from the pack of other rock & roll insider tell-all's.