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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
DOG EAT DOG by MICHAEL BROWNING BOOK REVIEW

DOG EAT DOG

by MICHAEL BROWNING

ALLEN & UNWIN

SEPTEMBER 24 2014

 

As song titles go Michael Browning couldn’t have picked a better name for a book that lays bare the dealings we all know go on behind the scenes of Rock and Roll. 


Over the years of course AC/DC has been the subject of a swathe of biographies but unusually for a band of a certain age and level of international success none of the main players have stepped up to the plate to lift the lid. After all this time is does leave you wondering if in fact it may just all be rather sordid or just plain boring! But you imagine that the real reason may just be that the guys don’t need the money.


Mark Evans’ bio ‘Dirty Deeds’ from a few years back is as close as we got to a bio from someone actually involved in the band, and now along comes Michael Browning’s take on the early years of the band from the man who managed them until he was unceremoniously dumped  with the arrival of bigger fish.


It’s not all about AC/DC though: the book encompasses that part of Browning’s career of course, and as the major draw the cover depicts an image of Angus and Bon, but we start off much earlier with the genesis of a young promoter and nascent band manager. Its colourful stuff and an interesting insight into the machinations of the Melbourne club scene from the 60’s and 70’s.


Then comes Billy Thorpe who pretty much fills up the remainder of the first hundred pages –and I guess that’s where the chronological biography rather than a straight AC/DC book might be a little testing for overseas readers who might just end up thumbing through the pages. Aussie Rock fans of course revere Thorpe and Browning does a great job at capturing a little of the craziness!


The majority though will just head to the years the author spent with AC/DC and Browning takes us through those first days with a glint in his eye – back then of course it was all promise and potential, and while money obviously comes into it there’s a real sense of belief in the band especially in those early days: a real desire to get them out of Australia and on the International stage.


Booking the band for his club things start to happen quickly:  we’re taken through the country-town tours, bus trips, groupies, beer barns and all the associated Rock and Roll detritus. It’s a seemingly fast ride from album to tour and back to the studio. Throughout two things seem clear – the Youngs are pretty much inscrutable, moody yet reserved; and the figure of Bon Scott looms large as almost the antithesis of that – at times wild and out of control, at others vulnerable. Whilst from Browning’s distance we are only dealing in rough sketches its clear as the years tick over those sketches are even more hurried suggesting an increasing distance from the band he took to England and set well on the road to success in the US.


Towards the end there’s increasing struggles with the politics of it all, a certain sense of impending doom as the sharks circle and then the almost anti-climactic sacking: you can almost hear the whispers in the ears of the Youngs. Then he’s gone and AC/DC become the biggest band in the world…


The shining light of it all for Browning is that there is no wallowing in it all, next step its INXS and despite a misstep with Heaven then comes Noiseworks. Not a bad set of bands to take the edge off.  While there is obvious regret at the way he was treated in the later chapters there’s no malice, though you do wonder if the band will even notice or care.


We may never get the definitive book by any of the key players in the AC/DC saga but until we do Browning and Evan’s tomes are the pick of the bunch.
  

 

 

Mark Rockpit

 

DOG EAT DOG by MICHAEL BROWNING BOOK REVIEW 2014