Today’s movie soundtrack comes by no coincidence. Today’s my birthday! And I got this album on this day in 1987 from my partner in crime for many years, Bob!
AC/DC – Who Made Who (1986 Epic soundtrack to Maximum Overdrive, 2003 remaster)
As a movie director, Stephen King is a great novelist.
30 years ago, Maximum Overdrive was King’s directorial debut. The movies based on his books had been box office gold so far, but King always complained about the adaptations of his original material. So why not hand the reins over to him?
King’s goal was to make “the loudest movie ever made”, and part of that was leaving the soundtrack to AC/DC. King issued the film with instructions that “this film is to be played as loud as possible.” The funny thing, according to him, was that most theaters did it.
AC/DC did the entire soundtrack, a mixture of old and new material. It was an unorthodox move and it left AC/DC with what some consider to be their first real “greatest hits” album; this coming from a band who in 2016 has yet to issue an actual greatest hits album!
The robotic pulse of “Who Made Who” commences the affair, a massive hit still a radio staple today. One of AC/DC’s most recognisable tunes, “Who Made Who” was a bigger smash than the movie that spawned it. That’s Simon Wright on drums, emulating the perfect beats of Phil Rudd before him, creating a fine facsimile. The keys to the song though are the simple and catchy guitars of Angus and Malcolm Young. Having nailed down the art of writing catchy bases for songs, the brothers Young really perfected it here.
They also perfected it on 1980’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”. Placing the biggest AC/DC hit of all time second in line is almost like nailing the coup de grâce prematurely, but there is plenty more firepower on the album. It works in the second position, cleaning up anyone left standing and getting them shakin’ on the dance floor.
AC/DC added two brand new instrumentals to this soundtrack (“Johnson was sick that day”, joked Angus). “D.T.” is the first of them, somewhat unremarkable and echoey on the drums. But this is designed as background music for movie scenes, so it really shouldn’t be measured by the same yardstick as, say, a Rush instrumental. The second on side two is the peppier “Chase the Ace”. Punctuated with some cool Angus licks, “Chase the Ace” is simple and effective like “D.T.”.
There were a few tunes from the recent Fly on the Wall album, all killers. “Sink the Pink” (oh, Brian!) is recorded so muddy that you can’t hear the words, but it does rock. Angus’ guitar break is pure fun, and the song gets your ass moving. That leads into the sole Bon Scott inclusion, “Ride On”, from a quieter moment in the film. What’s really cool is that even though these songs are from all over the place, Who Made Who sounds like a fairly cohesive trip.
Side two commences ominously with “Hells Bells”, a fine way to distribute classic tunes evenly across the sides. “Shake Your Foundations” is on its tail, hitting you with another blast of AC/DC right in the face. One of the better tunes from Fly on the Wall, “Shake Your Foundations” does its advertised job. Yet, I do believe there was only one way to properly end this album. That would have to be the cannon-fire of “For Those About to Rock”.
Who Made Who was actually my first Johnson-era AC/DC album, given to me by my buddy Bob on this day in 1987. If this review is slanted ever so slightly in the “pro” direction, so be it.