Year 3, Day 22: AC/DC – Back in Black
- Hells Bells
- Shoot to Thrill
- What Do You Do for Money Honey
- Given the Dog a Bone
- Let Me Put My Love Into You
- Back in Black
- You Shook Me All Night Long
- Have a Drink on Me
- Shake a Leg
- Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution
About the Album
Back in Black is the seventh studio album and sixth international release from Australian hard rock band, AC/DC. Produced from April to May of 1980, the album was released in late July of 1980 to massive critical acclaim. Despite never reaching number one on the United States Billboard 200, it stayed on the chart for well over 131 weeks. And despite never reaching number one in the United States, the album is certified 22x multi-platinum* by the RIAA in the United States alone. (*editors note: platinum record = 1,000,000 records sold. That’s 22+ million records sold to date! Holy balls, that’s a lot!) The album is considered by many to be one of the most quintessential pieces of hard rock history.
Thoughts on the Album
Like yesterday with Queen‘s A Night at the Opera, today we come across one of the greatest hard rock albums ever recorded. AC/DC‘s Back in Black is considered to be the second best selling album worldwide of all time, right behind Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. It has sold over 22+ million albums to date, and is the sixth best selling album in the United States.
HOLY CRAP. SERIOUSLY. What makes this album so
good GREAT? Let’s find out shall we?
In February of 1980, the band’s lead singer died after a night of a hard drinking binge. The band went on a search for a new frontman, and they found their man in Brian Johnson. The album opens with the iconic, lone, eerie, and dark church bell clanging loudly and murkily into the night. After the bell tolls five times, lead guitarist Angus Young chimes in with a slow and sprawling riff that’s as if the Grim Reaper was playing it. The song builds when the drums enter, first one at a time, then two, as if they were footsteps down a hallway in a horror film. This is Hells Bells, and it might just be one of the most recognizable intros for a hard rock song ever.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an AC/DC album without the prerequisite songs about the following: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and of course, booze (see: What Do You Do For Money Honey, Let Me Put My Love Into You, Given a Dog a Bone, and of course, You Shook Me All Night Long).
Shoot to Thrill, the album’s second track, is a perfect driving song. It’s a perfect driving or racing song in that it is fast-paced and as an awesome looping riff. The drums and bass in Shoot to Thrill are excellent. The sixth track, or the titular track, Back In Black, is one of hard rock/heavy metal’s most recognizable tracks. It is arguably AC/DC‘s most recognizable song as well*. The guitar riff for Back In Black is world famous/world renowned and for a hell of a good reason. The song itself is an incredible rock anthem. The track was an instant hit in the United States.
(*Editor’s note: unless you’re a heathen and prefer Highway to Hell or You Shook Me All Night Long. Fine, no judgement here.)
You Shook Me All Night Long, the seventh track and another anthem. The guitar riff is well renowned by many in the guitar playing world. It is an upbeat riff that almost sounds pop-ish, but quickly screams in your face to regain it’s hard rock-ness. Much like Back in Black, You Shook Me All Night Long features a melodic chorus that you just can’t help but to head bang and sing along to. While we’re on the subject, let’s just say that this song is a very clever and tongue-in-cheek “love” song*.
(*editor’s note: let’s leave it at “love” please, thanks.)
The album closes with the defiant, Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution. A slow starter, it builds into a furious and defiant song. A statement to the world and the critics of rock and roll music. It is a musical “middle finger” to the critics of the band and rock music… but mostly the band.
That is why AC/DC‘s Back in Black is considered to be the greatest hard rock/heavy metal album ever. Four of the band’s most recognizable songs are found on this album alone (Hells Bells, Shoot to Thrill, Back in Black, You Shook Me All Night Long). It deserves all the praise and acclaim it has received. It is another classic album that has stood the test of time, as people worldwide are still buying it and playing it to this day. Pick up a copy, pick up your air guitar (or other air band equipment or even real instruments), throw up the horns, and just rock out.
Rock and Roll ain’t noise pollution… it’s glorious music.