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BOOK REVIEW: Dog Eat Dog by Michael Browning

| 6 November 2014 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Dog Eat Dog by Michael Browning
Allen & Unwin, rrp$32.99
24 September 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Dog Eat Dog by Michael Browning book cover

For a band whose key players have long refused to shed any light from beyond the door to their private lives, AC/DC have an awful lot of books written about them – though with the exception of ex-bassist Mark Evans’ excellent Dirty Deeds, none have come from anyone actually involved in working with the band as they forged their reputation and manoeuvred into a position from where they might then be able to break through.

Michael Browning started his career in the entertainment biz as a canny young man who opened a couple of not-entirely-legal nightclubs and band rooms in Melbourne in the late ‘60s, and soon graduated to managing the mighty Billy Thorpe in the days of his second incarnation of The Aztecs.

The near-misses of Thorpie overseas whet Browning’s appetite and he was on the lookout for a band he could break into the international scene – something no Australian band had managed at that point, not even The Easybeats – when he heard about the early incarnation of AC/DC up in Sydney, and booked them into his Melbourne Hard Rock Club.

The rest, as they say, is history, with Browning taking over management of the band, Bon Scott stepping in as singer, and before too long the whole operation moving to England to tackle the world.

Browning debunks some of the myths surrounding AC/DC folklore, as well as spilling the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll back stories (and milk, ciggies and general surliness where Angus was concerned) on the band. As well as detailing their struggle to find an audience in Australia – who they very quickly turned their back on – and abroad, Browning himself struggled with the politics inside the band – something Evans himself also had to contend with and both Evans and Browning lost their jobs following incidents to which neither was directly responsible. The Youngs seemed to always need a scapegoat, usually one against who they had developed some unknown grudge.

What is clear from Dog Eat Dog – and many other books on the band – is that Angus and Malcolm, as well as elder brother George, had very little love for Australia from the start, and rarely stood for any of the Aussie principals of mateship. How they came to be revered as paragons of Aussie bogan glory is beyond this writer’s ken. Despite this, Browning takes no cheap shots, even declaring that disappointed as he may have been with the way the band dealt with him, he liked Malcolm, at least, a lot.

Naming his tome after one of Accadacca’s early rockers, Browning was hurt and despondent when the band terminated their contract with him, but he picked himself up and dusted himself, going on to further glory managing INXS for a time, making a small dent in the U.S. with another hard rock band, Heaven, and getting Jon Stevens established in Australia after his early pop career in New Zealand, as well as getting involved in publishing amongst other things.

It’s a tale told brightly and with a refreshing lack of intrigue: Browning is a born raconteur and his story rings true as he maintains he always worked hard to further the best interests of his clients and to this day remains hurt that AC/DC have never acknowledged his part in their huge success. But then, the Young brothers rarely, if ever, acknowledge anyone outside of their inner circle, and with Malcolm now in a nursing home suffering from dementia, it seems Browning’s memory of events is as close to the real story as we’ll ever get.

Category: Book Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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