Phil Rudd's 2014 solo album "Head Job"

Troubled times continue for the Australian metal band AC/DC. Earlier this year, founding member Malcolm Young was forced to retire due to illness. And now, the band’s long time drummer Phil Rudd has been arrested in New Zealand. Rudd was initially charged with attempting to hire someone to kill two people, but that charge has now been withdrawn due to insufficient evidence. (Insert your own “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” joke here). However, Rudd is still being charged with threatening to kill yet another person, and also faces drug-related charges.

The timing of this turn of events is very unfortunate, not only because AC/DC are about to release Rock Or Bust, their first album in six years, and are about to go on tour next year. (As of this writing, the band says that those plans will not be affected by Rudd’s arrest). But the timing is also odd because Rudd just recently released a solo album titled Head Job in Australia, just a few short months ago.

Head Job is the first-ever solo album from the 60-year-old drummer. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, it is the first official solo album recorded and released by any post-1974 member of AC/DC. (Geordie recordings that were billed as Brian Johnson albums don’t count). Head Job has only been released on CD in Australia, although it appears to be available digitally in some other territories, including the U.S.

Rudd produced the album, and he co-wrote and recorded all of the songs with New Zealand-based musicians Allan Badger (bass and vocals) and Geoffrey Martin (guitar). The album is mixed in such a way that the drums are usually no less prominent than the guitars – as you might expect from a self-produced solo album by a drummer – and that may be the album’s main drawback. The hard rock sound has less guitar fury than the famous AC/DC sound, resulting in less power and crunch. The gruff-voiced Badger sings more like Lemmy from Motorhead than like Brian Johnson or Bon Scott. The single “Repo Man” is the most AC/DC-like track, sounding as though it was written to be performed with Brian Johnson and the Young brothers. The closing track “When I Get My Hands On You” also comes close to duplicating the ferocity of Rudd’s usual band. Otherwise, Rudd and his collaborators opt for a more down-to-earth and less in-your-face metal approach. “Crazy” and “No Right” are surprisingly melodic; “Lonely Child” and the title track show substance, and allow the guitars to breathe more. “Lost In America” and “The Other Side” suggest that someone in this trio listens to the Foo Fighters. One bad move was the appropriately titled “Bad Move”, which has a too-stale arena rock sound reminiscent of ‘80’s hair metal.

Head Job is a fairly enjoyable side project, but it’s hardly an album that “matters”.

Phil Rudd - Head Job

Phil Rudd “Head Job” (Universal Music Australia PRCD001) 2014

Track Listing:

1. Head Job
2. Sun Goes Down
3. Lonely Child
4. Lost In America
5. Crazy
6. Bad Move
7. No Right
8. The Other Side
9. 40 Days
10. Repo Man
11. When I Get My Hands On You