Written By Braddon S. Williams
AC/DC: Back In Black
I am a Bon Scott loyalist and was utterly devastated when he died from alcohol poisoning in 1980. Instead of disbanding, AC/DC recruited former Geordie sing Brian Johnson and recorded Back In Black just a couple of months later. Dedicated to the memory of Scott, Back In Black of course went on to become one of the biggest selling albums of all time.
Just a year earlier, Scott and the boys had broken out worldwide with Highway To Hell, so the door had basically been kicked in already, but the band definitely hit their creative peak right as disaster struck.
To Brian Johnson’s credit, he established his own trademark vocal style, just slightly higher pitched than Scott’s banshee wail, more like an air raid siren.
The songs are all built on the Young brothers’ monster riffs and airtight rhythm style, topped by Angus Young’s ferocious blues based lead guitar attack. The bottom end was supplied by the solid rock foundation of Cliff Williams on bass and Phil Rudd of drums.
Songs like the classic title track, the inescapable You Shook Me All Night Long, drinking anthem Have A Drink On Me, full tilt rockers Shake A Leg, Shoot To Thrill, Hell’s Bells, and Rock ‘N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution all combined to make Back In Black the perfect hard rock party album.
Much credit also goes to super producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange for making the template for how ’80’s hard rock would sound. Having said all this, I still go back to the Bon Scott era nearly exclusively when I want to listen to AC/DC. I was lucky to see them with Scott, and to see them on tour for Back In Black, and the Australian dynamos went on to rule the stages of the world for many years to come. I would imagine Bon would have been most proud!