With so many rock books vying for your precious time, it's understandable why you might not feel like spending nearly 300 pages with the guy who played bass in AC/DC from 1975 to 1977. After all, Mark Evans may be little more than a footnote in the 39-history of that great band. Even Evans acknowledges as much late in Dirty Deeds, addressing the snub he received from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when AC/DC was inducted in 2003: "I had absolutely no problem with not being included," he writes. "In the AC/DC timeline, I was there for only a brief time – an important time in my opinion, but a heartbeat by comparison with Cliff [Williams]'s thirty-year-plus tenure."
That kind of candor can be seen throughout Dirty Deeds, which is being hailed by outstanding heavy-music book publisher Bazillion Points as the first book written by an insider from the classic 1970s era of AC/DC. Evans offers previously unrevealed insight into band dynamics and powerhouse personalities. Hint: Angus Young is a prick, and Malcolm Young is a little less of a prick. With a writing style both engaging and thoughtful while still so very rock 'n roll, Evans doesn't sugarcoat much here. From his rough upbringing in the housing projects of suburban Melbourne, Australia, to his uncomfortable first days in AC/DC, from his monumental drinking binges and equally epic sexual conquests (Evans refers to some of them as "horizontal Swedish folk dancing" and "Mark's Sister Sandwich") to his unceremonious canning by the band, and from seeing AC/DC live for the first time after the late singer Bon Scott had been replaced by Brian Johnson to a tragic surprise ending, the guy is a natural storyteller, and readers will feel like they're just hanging with an ol' drinking buddy.
AC/DC was struggling to make a name for itself beyond Australia when Evans joined the band (he appears on the albums T.N.T., High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Cheap, Let There Be Rock and '74 Jailbreak), and he spends much of the middle section of Dirty Deeds exploring the group's take-no-prisoners competitive musical attack, which was honed mostly in London. His was a world filled with farting and fucking, one in which the stench of alcohol and blood and sweat and piss permeated everyday existence. For AC/DC, it was indeed a long way to the top. And along the way, Evans and his fellow band members stopped to mock the likes of touring mates Black Sabbath and Rainbow (even calling Ritchie Blackmore "a silly sausage"), while also taking shots at KISS and Marc Bolan.
Evans also shares stories fans may not know, including how teetotaler Angus would behave on those rare occasions when he was drunk or nursing a hangover. Or the night Evans claims he saw an apparition in his hotel room and "was trying not to shit himself." Or the time Bon Scott told the bassist shortly before his 1980 death that the singer one day wanted to record "a solo album … like Lynyrd Skynyrd kind of stuff, but real ballsy." (Imagine how that would have sounded…) Additionally, Dirty Deeds includes more than 30 rare and unseen photos from AC/DC's early years, many from the author's personal collection.
Evans certainly knows how to get a laugh, too: On May 28 , we played Surrey University. We went on with our usual attitude but the punters just stood and stared. They all sat on the dance floor, and didn't do so much as get off their backsides, even though we were playing loud enough to wake the dead. I thought they must have all been whacked; some were even doing the cross-legged thing – and I'm pretty sure I saw a caftan or two, which was never a good sign for AC/DC.
That's not to say dude doesn't get lazy sometimes, opting to use three clichés ("grain of salt," "walk the plank" and "no-brainer") in the same paragraph. Plus, his numerous attempts at foreshadowing his dismissal from AC/DC wear thin, and this life story suffers a bit post-1977 as Evans – who is now a family man – flits from less-famous band to less-famous band.
That said, Dirty Deeds is still a must-read for fans of AC/DC. Evans may not give the most flattering portrayal of the band's principal players, but at least he's honest. And that's something you may not always find in those books about bigger rock stars. Well done, mate...