Highway to Hell (1979)

1. Highway to Hell 2. Girls Got Rhythm 3. Walk All Over You 4. Touch Too Much 5. Beating Around the Bush 6. Shot Down in Flames 7. Get it Hot 8. If You Want Blood (You've Got It) 9. Love Hungry Man 10.Night Prowler


The first AC/DC album that cracked the top 20 – meaning the first record that many first became somewhat familiar with the band. Not surprisingly, though, things started out a bit rough. The record company realizing that they had a huge act (due to successful live shows) but wasn’t really selling, decided that the band needed to shake things up in the studio by bringing in a new producer. This meant that older brother George Young (along with Harry Vanda) had to go. Well, enter a fella named Robert John “Mutt” Lange and nothing else probably needs to be said. Of course, Lange was virtually unheard of at the time, but as the years went by, he became synonymous with the phrase “incredibly successful”.

Lange adds crucial elements to the band’s sound on this record. The music sounds much fuller and a lot more appealing without the band losing their distinctive heavy sounded crunch. Even though the album barely entered the top 20, it was the most successful album that the guys had at this point, and history has shown us that the record probably deserved more acclamations than when it was initially released. This is actually one of their most radio friendly albums ever. You definitely wouldn’t know that by looking at the cover. With a title featuring “Hell”, Angus dressed up like a devil, and the rest of the guys looking downright….well…creepy, most parents might tend to want to keep this thing far away from anyone under the age of 14.

AC/DC, however, was always a band whose bark was worse than its bite. They may sing about “hell”, “evil”, and the “devil” etc., but upon closer examination it was really all tongue in cheek. The title cut is actually about the rigors of being on the road as a touring band. So don’t let this record frighten you. In fact, hindsight shows that this record almost deserves to be noted as a Mutt Lange record as much as an AC/DC album. Those familiar with other works of the producer can hear shades of other acts he’s produced throughout the album. The song Touch Too Much sounds a lot like early Def Leppard, whereas Shot Down in Flames sounds like it was lifted from Foreigner’s multi-platinum 4 (Lange produced hugely successful works by both those artists).

Although no one knew it at the time, this album would sadly be Bon Scott’s last. He basically drank himself to death shortly afterwards. I won’t go into details, but it was truly sad. The next couple of AC/DC albums proved that the band could withstand such a tragedy, and future albums didn’t really sound that much different from this record. From front to back, this album is a masterpiece of hard rock and roll. It was also very fortunate that the band found they could continue after the loss of Scott.

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