Producer/engineer Mike Fraser isn't convinced AC/DC made the right call by finishing its 'Rock or Bust' tour in 2016 with Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose in place of Brian Johnson, who bowed out of the tour due to health issues.
Fraser, who is also known for his work with Metallica, Joe Satriani and others, has worked with AC/DC in the studio since the '90s. He recently told Mastering Music Mastering Life that the band did no favors for its legacy by hiring a fill-in, but Rose himself was not at fault.
"I get it; they had commitments to finish a tour and, you know, Angus [Young] and the rest of AC/DC thought Axl was the one," Fraser said. "As a fan, I don't like that choice, but I get it."
He continued, complimenting Rose, but opining on the potentially lasting implications of a legendary band like AC/DC settling on a hired gun of sorts.
"I think Axl did an amazing job, especially with some of the older stuff that they don't usually do. And Axl's got that higher range. To me, though, it kind of tarnished — in my opinion — the AC/DC name."
Even hiring a famous singer like Rose seemingly opened the door for AC/DC to hire anyone at any time. Fraser indicated that he believes band co-founder Young was too insistent on fulfilling the band's touring obligations. He worries that Young's concerns about disappointing fans by canceling tour dates had the opposite effect.
"To me that wasn't AC/DC," he added. "It was just a band going through the motions, AC/DC's never been that band."
Ultimately, while Fraser isn't sure he agrees with the band's choice to forge ahead with Rose, he says he respects the decision, understanding that it wasn't an easy one.
For what it's worth, former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade, who was in the band during the 'Rock or Bust' tour, said last year that Rose's professionalism and enthusiasm re-energized the band — particularly Young — during a difficult time.
Slade said fans that went to the concerts with Rose in Johnson's place got some of the best-sounding AC/DC shows he has ever heard.
It seems that Rose's presence in AC/DC was a temporary arrangement until Johnson could come up with a solution for his hearing problems.
All evidence from AC/DC's camp since last summer suggests that Johnson, bassist Cliff Williams (who retired at the end of 'Rock or Bust') and classic-era drummer Phil Rudd are all back in the band and recorded on its forthcoming new album.
Fraser has said that he can neither confirm nor deny he produced the new album at Vancouver's Warehouse Studios.
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