Thursday, 22 February 2018

Record Collection Random Choice (RCRC) - F

6 posts in to this ongoing activity, and we arrive at the first compilation album

Hocus Pocus - The Best Of Focus

But first .. a musing on the purpose and/or greatness of compilation albums

A compilation album tends to be viewed in two ways:
1.  An introduction to a band you may have a fleeting interest in (ie one or two songs)
2.  A Bit of a cop-out, and not necessarily the way the artist intended their art to be consume

Me?  I'm firmly in the former camp, and do love a good compilation.
It's a way in, a path if discovery, and when they're good may lead to open wallet surgery as you seek to fill your shelves with the entire catalogue.  Alternatively, a compilation may also lead to disappointment where the couple of tracks you do know remain brilliant, but the rest is all a bit "meh!".

At the risk of sounding like an old fart, the compilation album used to appear at the end of a bands career, or if they moved labels at the end of their tenure, often as a simple easy method of (a) signing off their career, and/or (b) fulfilling contractual obligations.
Fancy a bit of time off?  That used to signal a Live album as a "space filler" whilst the band had a rest and then re-grouped for a new assault on the listening public.
Now it seems the compilation can appear at any time, often bulked out by new and exclusive tracks, and often early in a bands career, so the title "Greatest Hits" really doesn't apply
(If you can find it (I can't find a link), Dave Gorman in Series 2 Episode 7 (I Like Hot Bananas) does a good job of explaining this using Scouting For Girls as his reference text)

Whether you consider compilations good or bad, there are 3 or 4 which are pretty much essential, and every home should have a copy.
These are:
  • The Beatles 1962-66 (Red Album)
  • The Beatles 1967-70 (Blue Album)
  • The Jam - Snap
  • Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady
  • Squeeze - 45s And Under
(and according to recent(ish) research, every home does have a copy of Abba Gold and Queens Greatest Hits *)

I've got 3 (4 if you include the copy bundled in the CD Box of Greatest Hits I II & III (The Platinum Collection))


Anyway, back to Focus ...

Holland hasn't produced that many BIG bands - Golden Earring being perhaps the best known.  Also mentioned in dispatches are Bolland & Bolland (writers of and original performers 'In The Army Now') and Jaap Eggermont (of Stars On 45 fame).

Focus formed in 1969.  Their early career included time as the band for a production of Hair in Amsterdam.  As a result, the first commercially available recording of Focus is on the soundtrack album of the production.
When the Musical ended, Focus had enough local gigs and a following to warrant a publishing deal and the chance to record their debut album ('Focus Plays Focus' (revised title in UK and US: 'In And Out Of Focus'). The album sold little outside of Holland, until the single "House Of The King" hit the Top 10 in the UK.
The single was added to the album, and relatively respectable (if not massive) sales achieved in the UK and US.The next single was "Hocus Pocus" and provided the commercial breakthrough.
Parent album 'Focus II / Moving Waves' sold in large numbers, and was followed by 3 more albums ('Focus 3', 'Hamburger Concerto', 'Mother Focus') before band relationships deteriorated, and the creative element of  vocalist (yodellist?), organist & flautist Thijs van Leer and guitarist Jan Akkermann parted company.

This compilation draws tracks from their five 1970s albums, and opens with their best known track "Hocus Pocus".
This is the full album version, and not the 3 minute single edit I knew previously, and contains more mad, possibly unhinged yodelling, flute blowing and Hammond organ interludes beneath the insistent guitar riff - a riff that will pummel it's way into your head.

16 instrumental tracks entrenched in moods of Prog, Jazz, Blues jams, more yodelling (the closest you'll get to lyrics on this wholly instrumental album).  A bit of a curates egg affair - something grabbing your attention, and then floating off somewhere in the middle of the next track, and then returning again at some random moment of listening.
In a neat circular thing, the album closes with the single version of "Hocus Pocus", but for me the key track (and the best they've done, if not the best instrumental rock track ever) is "Sylvia" placed slap bang in the middle of the album.

Personally, I prefer compilations with a chronological track listing.  This one isn't, but what the track , something as snappy and direct as "House Of The King" comes along and you're salivating for the next slab of Dutch invention.
I only own one other Focus album ('Focus 3') which I have not listened to for some time, but do remember it being "quite hard work".
Is this the best way to consume Focus?  In my limited experience, Yes.
It's a bit of a roller coaster, with some moments of lost interest or distraction, but like White Water Rafting, or Charity Volunteer work, it's ultimately rewarding.



Sylvia

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Record Collection Random Choice (RCRC) - E

Eurythmics - Revenge

'Revenge' was the sixth album by The Eurythmics, and was released in 1986.
Their first album (1981s 'In The Garden').  The album was a statement of intent by the ex-Tourists, and marked the direction where they (are possibly more correctly Dave Stewart) believed they should be heading.
A co-production credit for Conny Plank and guest appearances from Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit (Can) sat the band firmly in the synth-pop/electronica/BritKrautrock camp.

Seemingly unconcerned by previous failure, RCA continued to sponsor the band, and after 4 more non chart or low chart placing singles, 1983s 'Sweet Dreams' proved to be the turning point.
Helped in no small part by the sales of the single "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" (UK Number 2), and it's accompanying video featuring Dave Stewart looking like a mad hippy professor-boffin, and Annie Lennox resplendent in a black suit and orange cropped hair.
Building on the breakthrough, a second album ("Touch") followed in late 1983.  Tracks from the album were remixed as "Touch Dance" in early 1984, and they also produced the soundtrack for the film Nineteen Eighty-Four.
All this activity was accompanied by regular appearances in the singles chart.
Their next album ('Be Yourself Tonight') saw the band moving to a more "conventional band", with the electronics taking a bit of a back seat.

By 'Revenge', the mutation was pretty much complete.
Here the Eurythmics are sounding like Blondie Meets The Beatles, and the album is an exercise in 80s studio sheen coupled with some very well written, well performed songs.
The only downside to this is that it does at times feel a little clinical.  It becomes the acceptable side of (slightly raucous) yuppie music, like it would sit comfortably in a loft apartment alongside Dire Straits 'Brothers In Arms' and Phil Collins 'No Jacket Required', or placed on a coffee table alongside Madonna's Sex book
(I know this album and Madonna's book are about 6 years apart, but hopefully you get the point of my inane ramblings)

The main focus of the album is the 4 singles lifted from it ("When Tomorrow Comes", "Thorn In My Side", "The Miracle Of Love" and "Missionary Man").  Of the remaining tracks, only "The Last Time" comes close to hitting the same spot.  That's not to say the other tracks are throwaway filler, but they just never really jump out of the speakers.

Building from 'Be Yourself Tonight', 'Revenge' reveals what a fine Rock voice Annie Lennox possesses.  She is equally adept at the slower, emotive, ballad-y stuff, but one forgets (certainly in the light of her chosen output in later years) just how strong her voice is.

Last Eurythmics album proper?
Later releases became more of a vehicle/showcase for Annie Lennox's voice (and why not?  she has a very, very fine and clear voice), and a production exercise for Dave Stewart - all competent, but just don't seem to have "it"

I've not heard this album all the way through for about 15 or 20 years.
There is no doubt it falls into the "thoroughly competent" category, but it may be a similar time before it's pulled from the shelf again.

When Tomorrow Comes


Thorn In My Side


Sunday, 4 February 2018

Record Collection Random Choice (RCRC) - D

Dexys Midnight Runners - Searching For The Young Soul Rebels

Despite it's avowed intention to destroy all that had gone before, Punk Rock always had a "back-to-basics, looking back to the past for inspiration" element.
The basics were three chords, and if thats all you've got then Chuck Berry, and those that followed in the 60s are going to be your guides.

The original set of the Sex Pistols included The Who's "Substitute", The Monkees "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone" and Dave Berry's "No Lip".
The Jam's adrenaline fuelled output had it's roots in 60s R&B, The Who, The Small Faces and The Kinks.
Although not part of the initial explosion, The Specials and Madness updated Reggae and Ska for the late 70s/early 80s listeners.

Dexys Midnight Runners joined the "looking back" party providing an update of 60s Northern Soul Revue (indeed their name was inspired by the drug of choice - Dexedrine - used at All Nighters to keep energy levels high and dancing constant).

The band was formed formed from the remnants of Birmingham Punk band The Killjoys in 1978.
Becoming increasingly disillusioned with Punk, Kevin Rowland and was listening to a diet of 60s Soul, including one of the first artists he'd seen perform live (and the soon to be more widely known Geno Washington).  With Killjoys bandmate Kevin Archer, he formed Dexys Midnight Runners.
By 1979 they had adopted their New York Docker gang look (all Donkey Jackets and Woolly Hats, inspired by the film On The Waterfront) and were being managed by former Clash supremo Bernie Rhodes
Their first single "Dance Stance" came courtesy of Bernie Rhodes independent label, which was distributed by EMI.
However, despite scraping into the lower end of the Top 40, EMI noted that the production was not great, and advised the band accordingly.  Kevin Rowland (always single minded, and fiercely protective of his band and music, wasted no time in dumping Bernie Rhodes and signing with EMI.

They had the vision, they had the sound, they had the look, and now they had the support of the big boys.
Second single "Geno" put the band at the top of the charts (despite EMI's belief that "Geno" was the weaker track, and the B Side "Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache" should've been the lead song).  The first stand-off between band and label resulted in Kevin Rowland getting his way.
The band then began recording the debut album,and on the last day of recording locked themselves in the studio in protest at their low royalty rate from EMI.
They took (stole?) the Master Tapes from the studio and returned home to Birmingham.
The Tapes were returned to EMI after an increased royalty rate was agreed, and the album finally came out in July 1980.

Opening with the sound of a radio tuning to various music stations, and then Kevin Rowland stating "For Gods Sake - Burn It Down", it really has that feeling like this is a new era dawning.
The song is a re-recording (and restoration of original title) of their first single "Dance Stance".
It's full of brass hooks, a thumping bass line, and lyrics namechecking a number of Irish literary figures.  Over this highly polished, exceedingly tight backing sits Kevin Rowland's voice - a touch of thuggery, a touch of theatricality and a soupcon of Bryan Ferry.

The brass riffing continues to form the basis and hook of most (if not all) tracks, with a couple of slower paced tracks (moments to catch a breath?).
Yes, there are a couple of points where Kevin Rowland's voice begins to sound strangulated and breaking when he goes for the high register, and depending on your mood at the time, the arty pretensions of the spoken word poetry recital of "Love Part One" is either completely disposable, or totally tolerable because straight after comes the magnificent closer to the album "There, There My Dear".

Searching For The Young Soul Rebels is a brilliantly enduring debut, and a damn near perfect melange of 60s Soul, Stax, Ska, Mod, Punk attitude and Hard Pop/Rock music - it almost "demands" to be listened to from start to finish.  And there aren't too many better ways of spending 40 minutes.

Burn It Down

There, There, My Dear

Saturday, 27 January 2018

To The Outside Of Everything – A Story of UK Post Punk 1977 – 1981

"Here's one I made earlier"

Originally published on The Afterword, October 2017


What does it sound like?
Cherry Red’s latest box set takes a tour of the time period after the snot and anarchy had subsided
But … what is “Post Punk”?
Being literal about it, it’s anything that came after the initial burst of Punk.
But nothing is that simple (is it ever?).
Angular, edgy, industrial, dark, experimental – all terms used to try and define what Post-Punk was
The genre “Post-Punk” is a retrospective term applied to bands that flourished to greater critical acclaim than perhaps commercial success, and didn’t fit the neat pigeon holes of known genres
Originally labelled in the music press as “New Musick”, bands took inspiration from the freedom offered by Punk, and expanded the template from the 3 chord thrash and re-cycled Chuck Berry riffs, to include anything and everything they felt inspired by (Berlin-period Bowie, krautrock, electronica, dub reggae, jazz, funk, disco, poetry, literature, political theory – whatever the influence or thought, it probably found it’s way onto record).
Post-Punk wasn’t a “new thing”, a reaction to anything, or a bandwagon to be jumped on – most of the bands were already in existence ploughing their own furrows.  With fortuitous timing, the initial burst of Punk energy had dimmed, and people were looking around for the next evolution.  Primarily led by the indie labels that sprang up as a result of Punk (Rough Trade, Zoo, and Fast Product being prime examples), with some foresighted majors (with indie sensibilities) joining the party (Island and Virgin, mainly), this was music from the “arty” end of punk - more concerned with making a statement, than shifting units.

The beginnings of the genre can be (sort of) pin pointed to 2 events in January 1978:
  1. John Lydon leaving the Sex Pistols
  2. The release of Magazine’s debut single “Shot By Both Sides”

This is a neat and simplistic tag – the Pistols were undoubtedly the most recognised purveyours of Punk, and Howard Devoto (or more correctly, his previous band Buzzcocks) responsible for the release of the first independent Punk single.
The opening track (Ultravox! – "Young Savage") dates from May 1977 – before these 2 events proving that Post Punk co-existed with “actual” Punk (Proto-Post-Punk?).  And Wire (represented here by "I Am The Fly" (released February 1978)) had already released their own Post Punk statement (debut album Pink Flag) in October 1977.

This 5 CD set runs chronologically through the period and includes tracks from the recognised “big bands” of the period - PiL, Magazine, Wire, Gang Of Four, Joy Division, The Fall, Gang Of Four, Throbbing Gristle (plus a host of others).  Space is also given to other (possibly, or actually) lesser known names making a great noise - Big In Japan, The Raincoats, The Au Pairs, Mo-Dettes, down to almost forgotten acts such as Fischer Z, The Past Seven Days The Nightingales and The Homosexuals.
OK, not every track is a winner (and it would be nice if sometimes compilers didn’t go for the bleedin’ obvious - The Slits released many other fine tracks apart from Typical Girls) but it is a pretty high hit rate across 111 tracks (and those few that aren’t 100% winners will not have you reaching for the skip button).
Obvious omissions to me include XTC, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, Bauhaus, Cabaret Voltaire and UK Decay.  (Talking Heads, Pere Ubu and Devo were probably excluded as this is the story OF UK Post Punk).
The absence of these big hitters just leaves more space for the smaller, forgotten, but no less creative bands to shine again, and there is plenty here to entertain, even challenge and make your ears prick up in a “Bloody Hell, that was good” type way.

What does it all mean?
Unlike it’s forebearer, Post Punk never became the property of a salivating media, copycat bandwagon jumpers and record companies out to make quick profits.
It may have taken it’s lead from Punk, but Post Punk (as it latterly became known) was broad and rich with ideas, invention and experimentation.
If I was allowed to re-christen it, I think I would suggest: Prog-Punk
Post Punk is probably the missing link that explains how Punk begat more than just New Wave, Powerpop, and mohican wearing 55 year olds at Butlins.
80s genres such as Goth, New Pop, New Romanticism, Synthpop and even Indie can all trace their lineage back to John Lydon asking if we’ve ever had the feeling we’ve been cheated, and Howard Devoto was on the run to the outside of everything.
Goes well with...
The sleeve notes include an historical essay charting the rise and fall of Post Punk, and details of each band and track featured.
What’s not to like – discovering new, unheard or forgotten music (note: The Thompson Twins were pretty good once upon a time) and pouring over the sleeve notes
Once the sleeve notes are done, I further recommend Simon Reynolds book Rip It Up And Start Again as a great textual accompaniment

Might suit people who like...
Music with a bit of adventure, variety and pushing the boundaries (a bit).
Artists intent on pursuing a singular vision whether any bugger likes it or not (fortunately there is much to like)
Will definitely appeal to the type of Music Nerd (ie me) that is now building up a nice little genre history with these Box Sets (any chance of a 5CD Pub Rock set next?)

Full Track Listing:
https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/to-the-outside-of-everything-a-story-of-uk-post-punk-1977-1981-deluxe-5cd-box-set/


Magazine - Shot By Both Sides




Monday, 22 January 2018

Record Collection Random Choice (RCRC) - C

Time for another roll of fate.
The letter C provides a number somewhere in the middle of the collection, and the result is ... Cliff!
(But not the one you may think (and happily not for me either)).

Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come

Basically a Reggae starter kit.
Think you don't like Reggae?  have a listen to this album - not a duff track on it and a perfect soundtrack for late summer evenings (and I'm writing this in January, so it works in the cold and damp too).
(A second recommendation for all things Reggae is the compilation Young, Gifted And Black - Volume 1 is better than Volume 2, but both deserve a place in any collection)

Compiled and sold as the soundtrack to Jimmy Cliff's movie of the same name, this compilation takes the purposefully recorded title track, adds three more Jimmy Cliff tracks, and then bulks out the album with a selection of landmark records/producer favourites from 1967 to 1972.

What you get is:
  1. "You Can Get It If You Really Want" - Jimmy Cliff
  2. "Draw Your Brakes" - Scotty
  3. "Rivers of Babylon" - The Melodians
  4. "Many Rivers to Cross" - Jimmy Cliff
  5. "Sweet and Dandy" - The Maytals
  6. "The Harder They Come" - Jimmy Cliff
  7. "Johnny Too Bad" - The Slickers
  8. "007 (Shanty Town)" - Desmond Dekker
  9. "Pressure Drop" - The Maytals
  10. "Sitting in Limbo" - Jimmy Cliff
  11. "You Can Get It If You Really Want" - Jimmy Cliff
  12. "The Harder They Come" - Jimmy Cliff
(and no, that it is a transcription error - you do have 2 versions of "You Can Get It If You Really Want" - the second version is more an instrumental with only the vocals for the chorus)

It is often stated that the film and the soundtrack introduced the world to Reggae, and listening to these tracks you can see why it succeeded.

For even more Reggae greats, the 2 Disc expanded version offers 18 more tracks including more from Jimmy Cliff, The Maytals and Desmond Dekker, plus Eric Donaldson, Johnny Nash and Dave & Ansel Collins.
  1. "Israelites" - Desmond Dekker and The Aces
  2. "My Conversation" - The Uniques
  3. "Do the Reggay" - The Maytals
  4. "Viet Nam" - Jimmy Cliff
  5. "I Can See Clearly Now" - Johnny Nash
  6. "Reggae Hit the Town" - The Ethiopians
  7. "Double Barrel" - Dave and Ansel Collins
  8. "It Mek" - Desmond Dekker and The Aces
  9. "Sweet Sensation" - The Melodians
  10. "Let Your Yeah Be Yeah" - Jimmy Cliff
  11. "Cherry Oh Baby" - Eric Donaldson
  12. "Monkey Spanner" - Dave and Ansel Collins
  13. "54-46 (That's My Number)" - The Maytals
  14. "It's My Delight" - The Melodians
  15. "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" - Jimmy Cliff
  16. "Pomp and Pride" - The Maytals
  17. "Guava Jelly" - Johnny Nash
  18. "The Bigger They Come the Harder They Fall" - Jimmy Cliff



(Serious redux warning!)
The film is far from a "Rags To Riches" tale, although it starts that way with main character Ivanhoe Martin (Jimmy Cliff) leaving his family in rural Jamaica to try his luck in Kingston.
On arrival, all his possessions are stolen.  Seeking work, he takes any job he can find, before trying his luck in the singing business.  He does end up making a record, but has no success.
His next job is in Kingstons thriving underground drug trade, delivering drugs around the city, and then being hunted by the police.  He descends deeper into the criminal world, stealing anything he can get his hands on, and most importantly avoiding the police at all costs.  As a result, he becomes something of a folk hero - it is this status that drives his record to success.
With the police closing in, he attempts to escape the island but fails to get aboard a boat bound for Cuba and is washed ashore.
The movie ends with Ivanhoe awaking to the sound of a police ambush, there is a stand-off, and a gunfight and Ivanhoe is no more.

There aren't too many films I watch repeatedly, but this is one of them - The Harder They Come is a bit of a "formulaic blaxploitation" movie (with a bit of Wild West thrown in for good measure), but pulls no punches and is not afraid to show the darker side of Jamaica.
There is a strange juxtaposition of the gritty, realism and darkness of the film against the uplifting joyousness of the soundtrack.



The extended version of the soundtrack closes with this more soulful take of the title track.  It was recorded at Muscle Shoals Studio in 1971, and originally released as the B Side of "Sitting In Limbo"

Jimmy Cliff - The Bigger The Come The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Come - Film Trailer


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Record Collection Random Choice (RCRC) - B

I have decided that these posts need a snappy title.
If I am to produce 26 highly interesting, informative critiques of albums nestling in the collection, then they need to be done under a specific banner.
As it goes, I couldn't think of a snappy title so went with the rubbish banner you see above.

And so to the letter B.
Lets see what we have this time.
What? No! Do I have to?
I could just cheat I suppose.
No, that wouldn't be right, and would compromise the randomness.

The randomiser was lucky last time out.  But now, as if to prove that this is a completely random selection, the gods of chance (devil?) has sent me to the lower end of the B section, and I now have to summon enthusiasm to spout forth on the era defining debut album by ... Bucks Fizz

Bucks Fizz were formed in late 1980 by Andy Hill and Nichola Martin to perform their song in the Eurovision heats A Song For Europe.
The group followed the ABBA model (ie 2 girls and 2 boys).  Mike Nolan was the first to be recruited, followed soon after by Cheryl Baker (who had previous Eurovision experience as part of Co-Co in 1978.
Open auditions brought Bobby G and Jay Aston to the line-up - Bobby G was second choice after original "second male" Stephen Fischer was unable to take up the offer.

Eurovision trivia tangent - Stephen Fischer would return to Eurovision in 1982 as one half of Bardo.  The other half was Sally-Ann Triplet, who had previously performed with Prima Donna at the 1980 contest.  Prima Donna also included Lance Aston, brother of Jay

They recorded the Hill/Martin tune "Making Your Mind Up", and won the Song For Europe contest.
This was released as a single in preparation for the main event in Dublin the following month.
Bucks Fizz won the contest, and the single went to Number 1 in the UK, and most other European countries.
Knowing they were obviously onto a good thing, a second single "Piece Of The Action" was released as "Making Your Mind Up" was leaving the charts.
The debut album followed 6 weeks later, and a third single ("One Of Those Nights") released in August.

The album contained the 3 singles plus 7 other original tracks (mostly written by Andy Hill and Nichola Martin).
To be totally honest, there is nothing here of any great musical innovation or enduring influence.  But then again, this is happy-clappy MOR Pop, and does exactly what you expect of it.
In the course of research, I had to listen to the album - it is not something I want to repeat.  No-one got hurt, but I was getting some funny looks from my wife.
It just sort of exists like background noise (and no, that does not make it an Ambient album to rank alongside Brian Eno or The Orb).

It achieved a Top 20 placing and was certified Gold with in excess of 100,000 sales - not at all bad for a manufactured band designed to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest, and then like many others before, disappear from view after their first single.
Marketing, Talent or "Right Place, Right Time" - you decide?

Of interest (possibly?) is the name appearing as writer of two of the tracks - Pete Sinfield.
A name more commonly associated with King Crimson.
Is it possible that closing track "The Right Situation" is a departure from formula and a Prog Rock epic in 3 movements?

No!

No more singles were released from the album as focus moved to recording the second album, and the first new single "Land Of Make Believe" was released in November.
Another Pete Sinfield co-write, and one that will stop you listening to "In The Court Of The Crimson King" in quite the same way again.

From:
The rusted chains of prison moons
Are shattered by the sun
I walk a road, horizons change
The tournament's begun
The purple piper plays his tune,
The choir softly sing;
Three lullabies in an ancient tongue,
For the court of the crimson king

To:
Shadows, tapping at your window 
Ghostly voices whisper will you come and play 
Not for all the tea in China 
Or the corn in Carolina 
Never, never ever 
They're running after you babe
Run for the sun, little one 
You're an outlaw once again 
Time to change, Superman 
He'll be with us while he can 
In the land of make believe


in 10 years?
Well, you have to pay the rent.  And admittedly, there is a certain ghostly progginess to that verse (or is it just me?)


I was rather hoping to find a heavily rocked up/punked up version of "Making Your Mind Up" to sign off with (and at least regain some of my ROCK credentials)
Alas, no such (commercially available) cover version exists.
What I did find though was a German re-recording, with revised lyrics that was used in a German Song Contest in the same year as Bucks Fizz Eurovision win.

Maggie Mae - Rock n Roll Cowboy

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

The Gods of Random have been kind and produced a low number (9), and the first album for perusal is AC/DCs second album of 1976.
This is the bands fourth (or third?) album.
The first two ('High Voltage' and 'TNT') were Australian only releases, and their third release (also titled 'High Voltage') combined the best bits of the Australian albums and was given an International release.
'Dirty Deeds ..' also had a later International release with modified track listing ("RIP (Rock In Peace)" was replaced by the frantic "The Rocker").

9 tracks built around similar patterns of thumping drums and heavy bar room blues riffing (with the quieter, almost delicate "Ride On" chucked in for good measure).

'Dirty Deeds ...' opens with the title track, and an almost sinister sounding riff.  Bon Scott's equally sinister vocals offer his services to help solve any little problems you may be having (these aren't problems like a blocked drain or dripping tap - these services are more criminal in nature).
Part way through the lyrics is the first serving of  lascivious humour, as Bon announces his phone number as 36-24-36.
"Love At First Feel" is, as the title suggests, continuing the theme (sex and drugs and rock and roll are very much a theme of AC/DC).
The lascivious (or more correctly schoolboy) humour returns for "Big Balls" - a harmless song about a man who arranges society dances - anyone who spies dirt in those lyrics must have a really dirty mind (???).

Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when they're held for pleasure
They're the balls that I like best
My balls are always bouncing
To the left and to the right
It's my belief that my big balls
Should be held every night

No smut there, as far as I can see.

Next up is what probably reads like Bon Scott's autobiography "The Rocker", and there may be a touch of Bon in "Problem Child" too.

Side 1 over, and there has been no let up yet - no time for breath.
"There's Gonna Be Some Rockin" is just as relentless, if on the slightly slower side, and then that riff is back with abandon for 7 minutes of "Ain't No Fun (Waiting 'Round To Be A Millionaire)". A spoken track announces the song:
"The following is a true story.  Only the names have been changed - to protect the guilty".
And then (at last?) time for breath with the slow dirty blues of "Ride On".
After that respite the thumping drums and riffing returns for closing track "Squealer".

When the album was released in the UK, it was lumped in with the burgeoning Punk movement, and (like Motorhead) AC/DC were the heavy rock band that it was "OK to like if you're a Punk".
The UK was their biggest market until the US breakthrough with 1979s 'Highway To Hell' and then confirmed with 1980s 'Back In Black'.
Whilst not a big seller on release, 'Dirty Deeds ...' is now the bands biggest album in their back catalogue, beaten only be the aforementioned albums.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap