At the top of the YouTube music chart, it’s a tweener tunnel of pop. If wading through the GagaBieberLovatoGomezCyrus lagoon makes your psyche soggy as well, one can seek out the Golden Age videos in the top 100. One is hard-pressed to find an act from pre-1993 in the chart, but the few that hold their own are cultural megabands, and right there with 41 million hits are evergreen Aussie riff-rockers AC/DC with their 1990 hit “Thunderstruck”.

(That uploaded video has since been blocked by Sony Music Entertainment, but the video can now be seen on ACDC’s Vevo channel.)

The performance clip features extreme close-ups of drumsticks & guitar necks, an upshorts shot of the Angus Young shuffle, and an audience stacked five high in prison-cell platforms. When I spoke with director David Mallet about helming the video, he said he embraced the time as a challenge to outdo everything that had gone before.

“They’d been off the clock for a couple of years,” Mallet said of AC/DC, whom he’d worked with previously and still shoots to this day. “I hadn’t seen them for a couple of years, and they came back and we thought, we’ve got to make the ultimate metal video, the ultimate rock n’ roll performance video, before someone else does. That sort of came about. We just thought, we’ve got to go crazy with it. The challenges at that point [in 1990] were really that everybody’s done everything. Simple. All the ideas had been used. There were very few ideas left.”

The video was shot in London in the Odeon Brixton, a 2000-seat theater that opened and closed many times and changed its name endlessly, according to Mallet. “It was huge,” he said. “It was like a 2000-plus seater, maybe more, with a very wide stage and we converted that. On the floor, we built those stages, those things where all the audience were.”

When I asked Mallet about shooting Angus’s strut through plexiglass underneath the guitarist, he commented, “yeah, just a silly thought, you know — and it worked! It might equally well not have worked, but I’m glad to say that it did work.”

When asked about his contemporaries shooting bands in the L.A. metal scene in the Golden Age, Mallet saw his style copied on occasion, but with a distinct difference in the style of women featured.

“Well, Marty Callner was, for instance, doing David Coverdale and all that, and they were using our girls, and it was the same, but Marty Callner did it really well, I thought. When I met him he said “Thank you so much, I really used all your stuff,” which I thought was very nice of him. I thought he did it really well, but it was in a different way. It was in the L.A. way. Everything looked healthy and bright in L.A., and in England everything looked sleazy and dark. I mean, the women in my things were always real sleazebags, kind of dirty. They looked naughty, you know what I mean? And all the ones in “Sharp Dressed Man” and ZZ Top and Marty Callner stuff, they all looked like L.A. dancers. They looked like dancers from “The Midnight Special”, didn’t they?”

Take a look at “Thunderstruck” here, as well as the Iron Man-era version of “Shoot To Thrill,” directed by Mallet himself, and a behind-the-scenes Mallet interview snippet from the live shoot in Buenos Aires.


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