Back in Black was the second album/cassette that I owned. Not too shabby. I believe my parents were in a music store, and they asked somebody “What are the kids listening to these days?” So many things went right for this whole situation. First of all, my parents were smart enough to know that I was old enough to listen to my own music instead of listening to Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow.
Second, they asked the right person. Back in Black had just come out, and would go on to be the third highest selling album worldwide (behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon). So that store employee knew what they were talking about. Last of all, with me being 10 years old, I’m pretty sure if the album that had just come out was Highway to Hell instead of Back in Black, I would have never gotten an AC/DC album until many years later!
Back in Black is such an incredible album. It does not have a single bad song. A lot of people say that all AC/DC songs are the same. But, if you listen to these songs, you will find that this is not the case.
AC/DC’s popularity was rising higher and higher. Especially after the success of 1979’s Highway to Hell album. Then tragedy struck. The band had begun developing their next album when lead singer, Bon Scott, died unexpectedly from alcohol poisoning on February 19, 1980 at the age of 33.
The remaining members contemplated disbanding. However, Bon Scott’s parents encouraged them to continue on. So, AC/DC went on to hire Brian Johnson as their new lead singer, which was an excellent decision. They also brought in Mutt Lange to produce the next album, after he had done a great job producing Highway to Hell.
Back in Black was released on July 25, 1980, less than half a year after the death of Bon Scott. According to Angus Young the album’s all-black cover was a “sign of mourning” for Scott. Atlantic Records disagreed with the cover, but accepted if the band put a grey outline around the AC/DC logo. They were worried about how well Back in Black would be received. The worries did not last long though, as it became an immediate success. Not only did it go to number one on the UK Albums Chart, its success meant AC/DC were the first band since The Beatles to have four albums in the British Top 100 simultaneously, as Highway To Hell, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, and Let There Be Rock all re-entered the charts right after Back in Black was released.
Now, let’s get to the music:
1. “Hells Bells”
13. That’s the number of times the bell tolls at the beginning of the song. I used to love counting the tolls of the bells for some reason. Any rock band worth their salt just had to have the unlucky 13, and AC/DC delivered! This was a great way to start the album. “Back in Black” would also be justifiable as the lead single. But since the song was written to commemorate the death of Bon Scott, it was a cool song to lead off with, and Scott would have approved.
2. “Shoot to Thrill”
3. “What Do You Do for Money Honey”
4. “Given the Dog a Bone”
5. “Let Me Put My Love into You”
This song rated number 6 in the Parents Music Resource Center Filthy Fifteen list in 1985. The was the censorship
commie committee founded by Tipper Gore and some other wives of politicians. The goal of the committee was to gain parental control over the access of children to music. The outcome was that “Parental Advisory” labels were placed on selected releases.
“Let Me Put My Love into You” made the list. I guess they didn’t listen too closely to the previous song! Who needs 50 Shades of Grey, ladies?!
So AC/DC made the list along with the scandalous Sheena Easton (“Sugar Walls”), Cyndi Lauper (“She Bop”), and of course Judas Priest (“Eat Me Alive”) and Twisted Sister (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”).
At least the labels helped us realize which albums were the best ones!
6. “Back in Black”
TURN IT UP!!! How can you not get pumped by this song?! This is one of those songs that you recognize immediately upon hearing the first note. Bands are lucky if they have a signature song. AC/DC has three! “Highway to Hell”, and then two from this album alone – this song, and the next song coming up. The song “Back in Black” was AC/DC’s tribute to Bon Scott. And it ranks on many music lists. It was ranked No. 4 by VH1 on their list of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs, and in 2009, it was named the second greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. It was also ranked No. 187 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The same magazine has also ranked “Back in Black” number 29 on “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”.
7. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
The third signature song by AC/DC. People that whine about AC/DC being too loud even like this song. When it was released, “You Shook Me All Night Long” reached up to #35 on the USA’s Hot 100 pop singles chart. It was re-released in 1986 when it was included on the Who Made Who album. The song placed at No. 10 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s”. It was also No. 1 on VH1’s “Top Ten AC/DC Songs”.
I have one pretty cool memory of this song. Towards the end of my Navy Boot Camp, we were given a little bit more freedom. One of the rewards that we got was that at night, for a couple of hours, we could go to this greasy spoon diner on the base. The name of the diner – The Greasy Spoon! Anyway, the first time I walked in there, a jukebox was playing, and “You Shook Me All Night Long” was the song that was on. It was the first real music that I heard in almost 2 months! What a first song to hear! While most people were excited to get a burger and fries, I was excited to hear real music! So that is always the first thing that comes to my mind now whenever I hear that song.
So get yourself a nice greasy burger and some burnt fries, and click play!
8. “Have a Drink on Me”
9. “Shake a Leg”
10. “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”
This was a great choice to close the album. It is the most “mellow” song on here. It has an awesome bluesy feel to it. This would have also been a great Bon Scott song. But Brian Johnson proved to be a perfect replacement.
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