AC/DC - 1980 Back In Black


ALBUM: Back In Black
LABEL: Atlantic (USA), Albert Productions (Aust)
SERIAL: SD 16018, APLP-046
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: Reissue list..


LINEUP: Brian Johnson - lead vocals * Angus Young - lead guitar * Malcolm Young - rhythm guitar * Cliff Williams - bass * Phil Rudd - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hells Bells * 02 Shoot To Thrill * 03 What Do You Do For Money Honey * 04 Givin' The Dog A Bone * 05 Let Me Put My Love Into You * 06 Back In Black * 07 You Shook Me All Night Long * 08 Have A Drink On Me * 09 Shake A Leg * 10 Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution



AC/DC had been around for several years and had released five albums in their native Australia (four internationally) before releasing the classic 'Highway To Hell' album in 1979.

Produced by 'Mutt' Lange, 'Highway To Hell' was their breakthrough, altering their sound somewhat from a bluesy approach to more straight-ahead hard rock. And it worked, propelling the album to sales in the multi-millions across the world.

Then, in one of the more unfortunate tragedies in the history of rock, vocalist Bon Scott died after a night of hard drinking. The band was in the process of writing the material for the next album. Unsure whether to proceed, Scott's parents encouraged them to continue.

Ex Geordie frontman Brian Johnson was selected to be the new vocalist, his voice being a strong match for the band's sound. They finished the songwriting and headed to the studio, again with Lange.

The Songs

The opening bell of 'Hells Bells' has become one of the most recognizable sounds in rock. When the guitar riff kicks in, you know something special is about to happen. It's a simple riff, but damn it's cool. This is one of those songs that I'll never consider to be overplayed, and it definitely lives up to its classic status. One of the all-time best album openers.

'Shoot To Thrill' is the perfect follow-up, establishing that the band is indeed back. 'What Do You Do For Money Honey' and 'Given The Dog A Bone' continue the greatness, definitely more hard rock than blues.

'Let Me Put My Love Into You' (wonder what the subject matter here is..) slows it down a bit with one of my favourite songs from their extensive catalog. Great solo by Angus Young on this one.

Back in the LP days, you had to have a strong opener to the second side, so a lot of great songs appear in this spot. 'Back In Black' is clearly one of the best. I know these days a lot of us are not very fond of rap music. But these lyrics could definitely be rap lyrics the way they flow.

These lyrics were written by Johnson as a tribute to Scott. Added to a classic guitar riff that we all know by heart, we end up with a song that is as popular with kids today as it was 30+ years ago.

Lead single 'You Shook Me All Night Long' starts with Angus Young's guitar in one channel, then brother Malcolm joins in on the other channel, then the bass kicks in right before the chorus. Cool effect for sure. Another song that is one of the all-time classics.

The B-side for that single is 'Have A Drink On Me', and it also is a winner. Nothing wrong with 'Shake A Leg' either, although it's the least memorable song on here.

The album closes with the most bluesy tune on here in 'Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution'.

In Summary

It's hard to figure out how some albums manage to capture the public's attention to the point that they sell far beyond the norm, but this one obviously resonated with millions of people.

Maybe it was the tragedy of the death of Bon Scott, maybe it was the hint of potential from the previous album, maybe it was just the right album at the right time. Whatever it was, this album has sold an estimated 50 million units worldwide to date and is one of the top selling albums of all time.

Heck, it still sells well, as evidenced by the fact I can always find copies of it at Wal-Mart and Target. Not a lot of 80's albums that can be found that easily.

'Hells Bells' and 'Back In Black' (and their instantly recognizable guitar riffs) are seared in our memories. I'd bet that most kids in the U.S have heard most if not all of this album (it's not as risque as it was in 1980).

This album continued what 'Highway To Hell' had started, propelling the band to the top of the rock heap. Definitely one of the classics of the hard rock genre.

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