Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rock in Peace: Mark Evans' Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC

An engrossing, funny and ultimately moving memoir, Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC by Mark Evans is an indispensable look inside a pivotal period of one of rock's greatest bands. Just 19 when he joined AC/DC as a bassist, Dirty Deeds chronicles Evans wild journey with the band on the road, and in the studio, where he was featured on the classic LP's T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Let There Be Rock. Evans recounts his time with the legendary Bon Scott led AC/DC with a charming laid back flair that is both conversational and informative and its hard to imagine any fan of the band, or modern rock music in general, who wouldn't be sucked in by his fascinating memories.
Opening up with a hilarious Paris set story recounting AC/DC's infamous 1977 tour with Black Sabbath, Evans immediately sets the tone of the book as memoir based around honest-memories and not dirt-slinging gossip. His good-natured tone throughout is very refreshing and it's nice to read a rock memoir that manages to be both unflinchingly honest as well as snark-free. Evans comes across as a good guy, the kind of guy you'd like to find yourself listening to at a bar one evening while nursing a pint or two.
The early chapters of Dirty Deeds focus on Evans' childhood and teenage years in the Melbourne suburb of Murrumbeena and then Prahran. Evans early memories of his family, school and especially his father, who sadly passed away in 1968 when Mark was just 12, are extremely emotional and are written with a real clarity and passion. Evans captures coming of age in the late sixties and early seventies, where he admits his main passions were girls, football and music, with a real authority and his memories of finding rock and roll and going to his first concerts capture a pivotal moment in music history extremely well.
Mark Evans life would begin to change when he attended a gig in 1969 featuring a group called The Valentines, a teen dream band that featured a young vocalist named Bon Scott. Evans describes the first time he layed his eyes on the future music legend with, "I thought he was dead cool, even though he was tiny compared to the others in the band." Evans recalls that he began following Bon's blossoming career in the rock-pages of the day but it would be six years before their paths crossed again, and Evans life would really be forever altered.
After banging around with some bands throughout his teenage years Mark got a surprising invite in the spring of '75, from a friend named Steve McGrath, to join a band called AC/DC as their bass-player. McGrath sold Evans on the idea by explaining, "They're a hard rock band" and "they just released an album and they play a lot of Stone covers." After an informal meeting and audition with future Guitar God Angus Young, Evans landed a spot in what would soon become one of the greatest and most iconic bands on the planet, thanks in part to what he referred to as his, "no-bullshit bass playing."
From there on, Dirty Deeds becomes an impossible to put down volume recounting Evans life on the road as a member of one of the hardest working bands in rock history. Page after page brings vivid memories ranging from playing his first gig with the band (at the Waltzing Matilda Hotel where tickets were just 2 bucks!) to playing the legendary Countdown television program to entering the recording studio (Albert Productions in Sydney) for the first-time, for the recording of the incredible T.N.T. LP.

After the recording and release of T.N.T., Evans recalled that "AC/DC came to dominate my whole being", and he captures the intensity and pressure of being in a band on the verge of exploding with precision. You can feel the sweat, blood, excitement and exhaustion of these days in Evans' prose recounting this pivotal period where AC/DC really became AC/DC much to chagrin of many music critics and teenage girls parents all over Australia and, finally, the world. Evans succinctly sums up the period with the memory that, "AC/DC was a band that seemed to survive on momentum", and it is that drive that guides Dirty Deeds all the way through.
That propulsive motion would find AC/DC on the road almost constantly and the mid-section of Dirty Deeds is mostly occupied by Evans' vivid concert and backstage memories that are loaded with antidotes about Bon, girls (Evans writes, "All fantasies were catered for") and other bands they played with (which included everyone from Thin Lizzy to T. Rex). It's the kind of real insider's look fans clamour for but very rarely get and it is in these sections that Dirty Deeds takes its place as one of the great books on Rock Music in the seventies.

Dirty Deeds My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC is essential reading for any fan of the great Australian band or any real rock music fan in general. Poignant, funny, exciting and filled with the kind of warmth you get when the needle drops on a vinyl-copy of your favorite LP, Dirty Deeds is now available in a gorgeous illustrated paperback edition from Bazillion Points. Highly recommended? You betcha.


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