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Rock guitar lives on AC/DC’s and Satriani’s latest

SHARE Rock guitar lives on AC/DC’s and Satriani’s latest

Just when you think guitar rock is going the way of the dinosaur thanks to new trends like white rappers (Eminem, Kid Rock), overproduced harmonies ('N Sync, Backstreet Boys) and teeny-bopper, bubble-gummers (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera), along come a couple of albums that give guitar fans some hope.

AC/DC; "Stiff Upper Lip" (EastWest/Elektra). ** 1/2

You always know what you're going to get with a new AC/DC album.

The only thing that's really new is the album title.

Even the song titles, though they are new, have a familiar ring — "Meltdown," "Can't Stop Rock and Roll," "Give It Up" and "Come and Get It."

Other than that, the Aussie band offers no surprises. But there are a lot of punches going around for all.

In fact, "Stiff Upper Lip" can be considered a culmination of Angus Young's guitar licks that have been developed (polished and energized) by the band since its first charting album "Let There Be Rock" back in 1977.

And lead singer Brian Johnson, who joined the band in 1980 after original singer Bon Scott succumbed to alcohol poisoning earlier that year, still has a trademark rasp.

"Stiff Upper Lip" won't disappoint AC/DC fans.

JOE SATRIANI; "Engines of Creation" (Epic). ***

This one will take you by surprise.

Guitar meister Joe Satriani has dived fully clothed into the techno scene.

While this might not be a surprise to some of his followers, the fans of his classic rock guitar solos will find this album a bit challenging.

However, instead of selling out, Satriani merely follows the path that started in 1987 with "Surfing With the Alien."

The axeman's trademark guitar still rings fresh through the thumping techno walls of "Devil's Slide" and "Flavor Crystal."

Not once does the guitar get lost in the production. And, instead of the guitar riffs becoming mere musical highlights, the arrangements craftily ride the fingered-fretboard tones with excitement and dignity.

"Star Trek" fans will be interested in the space-out reaches of "Borg Sex" while Led Zeppelin fans will relish the heavy backbeats of "Until We Say Goodbye."

Although the guitar loop does sound a bit thin on "Attack," Satriani has managed to keep the guitar in the forefront of this collection.

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com