The title track of the band’s third Australia album is a famous AC/DC song in which the narrator invites listeners requiring assistance with the execution of “dirty deeds” to call 36-24-36, which was an actual phone number in Australia in the 1960’s and was so close to a phone number of a family in the USA that litigation eventuated. It had a typical AC/DC song structure, very reminiscent of TNT, it boasted a wall of sound courtesy of insistent and repetitive guitars, lewd or at best suggestive lyrics with a hint of menace, and garnished with a serve of carnal intent. Chanted vocals self-referentially namechecked both of their previous albums, and with a sprinkling of sexism, a dash of misogyny, and a drizzle of sleaze, all wrapped up in an anthemic chorus, it was business as usual for AC/DC.
Their record company Atlantic found the album unpalatable to mainstream tastes and indefinitely deferred its release, it was not until the 80’s when the band had become successful, particularly after the phenomenal chart impact of Back in Black with sales of 50 million copies, that Atlantic released it, and it sold 3 million copies.
The absence of participation by the band in the belated release of this album is evident from the cover artwork (see top of this page), which features well-dressed tourists in a tropical location staring at the camera sporting simpering grins, vaguely menacing glares and stares, all with their eyes redacted by blackout strips, it was so un-AC/DC-like it could have been mistaken for a Phil Collins album cover.
Amid the lewd and crude stuff, the smutty Big Balls, and Bon as the boastful “right out-of-controller” on Rocker, there was the standout title track, the mischievous Problem Child, and the surprisingly tender, and bluesy ballad Ride On, a window into the heart and soul of Bon Scott.
AC/DC never really tried for sensitive or cerebral though, but they did primal, carnal, and down and dirty better than most, front man Bon Scott gleefully listed the dirty deeds in which he specialized – murder, mayhem, male prostitution and surrogate sex. The expression “dirty deeds done dirt cheap”, was an homage to an animated TV show titled Beany and Cecil, who were characters in an ABC TV cartoon show in the USA, which Angus Young enjoyed as a youngster.
The show featured Captain Huffenpuff and Crowie his pet bird, Beany, an angelic boy who wore a helicopter beanie, his trusted offsider Cecil a seasick sea serpent, and Dishonest John , the villain of the series who sported a pencil-thin moustache, black homburg hat and carried a business card indicating that his speciality was “dirty deeds done dirt cheap”. The song charted at #29 in Australia, and the producers of the original cartoon, refrained from taking legal action, despite the drastic re-definition of the intent of Dishonest John via Bon Scott’s lyrics. The second single off the international edition of the album was Love at First Feel, another Bon Scott dirty ditty which only charted #69 when released in Australia.
Dirty Deeds would be the last album recorded in Australia before AC/DC headed for the UK, the band had been touring incessantly and the album was cobbled together under the pressure of hitting a release deadline before their departure, it was patchy but did chart #5 nationally.
The band flew out of Sydney on April Fool’s Day 1976, arriving at Heathrow Airport thirty-seven hours later, prior to their arrival their manager Michael Browning and his sister Coral had already convinced Atlantic Records to contract the band for five albums, negotiated advances for each album of $35,000 and royalties of 12%.They were collected at the airport by Atlantic Records in a long black limousine, and deposited at a large terraced house at 49 Inverness Terrace, Bayswater -this was a far cry from the indifferent reception that their elder brother George had experienced upon arrival in London with the Easybeats a decade before.