Sunday, May 22, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: AC/DC - Back in Black (1980)

Hair bands dominated the hard rock scene in the '80s ranging from the more serious (Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi) to the less so (Poison), but in the early '80s AC/DC ruled the metal scene with this release, their sixth album released globally.

Ominous chimes open the album during "Hells Bells," which later segues into "Shoot to Thrill," a more light-hearted and upbeat track. Despite being "heavy" metal, what I'm struck by most about this album is that the band doesn't shy away from quiet moments, even within songs that can rev up the volume, making for the kind of musical "peaks and valleys" that is so rare in popular music today. Kind of refreshing actually. I've read that, unlike most heavy metal bands, they weren't as big of posers, although they still partied hard, a fact celebrated on Back to Black. Track 8, titled "Have a Drink on Me" seems quite tasteless when you consider that this album followed the band's previous lead singer's death by alcohol poisoning.

They can get pretty taudry too. "Let Me Put My Love Into You" is about exactly what you'd expect and sails along on a sea of confident guitar licks. One night stands get one of their best odes ever in "You Shook Me All Night Long," perhaps the most classic track the band ever recorded.

Worldwide, Back in Black is the second best-selling album of all time behind Michael Jackson's Thriller. In the US--where the album is 22 times platinum--it's fifth, but that still puts it just behind Thriller as the second biggest album of the decade. The album was produced by Mutt Lange, who in addition to producing the best-selling album of all time in the US by a band also produced the best-selling album of all time by a woman, his (now former) wife Shania Twain's third album, Come on Over.

Best: You Shook Me All Night Long, Shoot to Thrill, Let Me Put My Love Into You, Back in Black


Project Mobius said...

In all honesty, I'm not one to like music from decades ago. However, I must say that this is the first album I ever listened to cover to cover - back when I was 5. ;)

Props to you for recognizing classic music!

Sig: Visit my own top 40 music website at!

ww_adh said...

Thanks! I appreciate that. I'm enjoying this '80s series. It's a good mix of old favorites and things new to me that I hadn't heard before (generally the early 80s stuff).