Back in Black (1980)

1. Hells Bells 2. Shoot to Thrill 3. What Do You Do For Money Honey 4. Givin' the Dog a Bone 5. Let Me Put My Love Into You 6. Back in Black 7. You Shook Me All Night Long 8. Have a Drink on Me 9. Shake a Leg 10.Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution


This album has to be one of the biggest anomalies in the history of rock and roll. A bit of background: AC/DC spent most of their early career during the 1970s as somewhat of a cult band, never really enjoying much international success. Their record label, realizing this, teamed them up with producer Mutt Lange for 1979’s Highway To Hell which gave the band a much needed bolt of success and notoriety. The album didn’t get that much airplay, nor did it win any awards, but it did manage to crack the top 20. Then, wild man lead singer Bon Scott accidentally killed himself by passing out drunk and choking on his own vomit. Sad, but not really unexpected.

So what does a band do when such a thing happens when you’re so close to “making it”? Some band members wanted to quit, but the family of the late Bon Scott encouraged the boys to keep going. Well, in a span of only four months after Scott’s death, the band manages to recruit a brand new singer, write an entire’s album worth of songs and release one of the best, biggest selling rock and roll albums of all time.

Lead singer is now Brian Johnson. He was recruited from a Scottish band named “Geordie”, and he proved to be an excellent replacement. That’s not to say he really sounds like Bon Scott, but his singing manages to be, like Scott’s, massively dissimilar from the norm which means that AC/DC can still successfully separate themselves from the rest of the bunch. Whereas Bon Scott’s singing seamed to include a distinguishable “sneer” or “snarl”, Brian Johnson’s trademark seems to be more “screaming” than singing, but like Bon Scott, you have to wonder how he could record an album without a handy bottle of cough medicine nearby at all times.

True, many have rightly said that all AC/DC albums sound somewhat the same. But what differentiates this record from anything else the band ever recorded, is that every one of the ten songs are top notch. There’s no filler at all here. They simply managed to come up with an entire album’s worth of material that is all worthy of a greatest hits album. I’ve always thought the guys should highlight one of their tours by including this entire album from front to back. I’ve always found it somewhat ironic that later shows usually only include the hits (You Shook Me All Night Long and the song Back in Black) along with maybe one or two others when performing, but they do have a rather extensive catalog. Anyway, back to the album: All of the songs are powerful, funny, catchy, and best played with the volume turned all the way up. This is simply a great party record.

Like Highway To Hell, they’ve wisely brought Mutt Lange back, and he manages to capture many of the same aspects of the previous record, while bringing out the strengths of the new guy at the mike. Speaking of the new singer, you can’t discount his contributions to this album as simply the “new singer”. Apparently, he wrote all the lyrics and melodies just like Bon Scott used to. Strange that it all worked out so well.

I’m betting that there are about a bazillion people that only own one AC/DC album, and if that one album was any one other than this one, I would be highly surprised. The band had masses of material, but if you’re just wanting a brief token of what this band has to offer, this is really the one album that you must have.

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