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!
AC/DC had 2 major arcs in their career…the Bon Scott years and the Brian Johnson years. I am firmly in the Bon camp (no disrespect to Mr. Johnson, because his legacy is golden, too). Their first live album, 1978’s If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, was a single disc slab of hard rock dynamite. The mix is as raw and in-your-face as any live album in the history of rock, just pure energy and electricity; guitars, bass, drums, and the howling whisky drenched glory of Bon Scott at his finest. Angus and Malcolm Young’s riff fueled explosiveness and the granite bedrock 4/4 time primal stomp of Cliff Williams’ bass and Phil Rudd’s drums fill all these AC/DC classics with incredible power. Let There Be Rock, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, The Jack, High Voltage…all crushers, no weakness. This album was the first one that made my dad get up and leave the room! As a teenager that was important…it let me know I had found something that spoke to me. It speaks to me still and always will!
Written By Braddon S. Williams
On this date in history, 12/11/1977, I saw a truly legendary show. Kiss played MSA with this unknown band from Australia called AC/DC! To top it off, my friends and I were in the front row, crushed up against the barricade.
This was my third concert ever, and my second time seeing Kiss. Let’s begin at the beginning…I can’t overstate just how amazing AC/DC were that night. I was mesmerized from the opening chords. Angus Young was running full speed back and forth across the stage, occasionally hitting the ground and bloodying his knees or simply spazzing out on his back while never missing a note in his frantic lead playing.
As amazing as he was, I couldn’t stop watching Bon Scott. He was one of the first rockers I ever saw with tattoos, and his voice was a whiskey soaked, balls to the wall powerhouse. The songs were loud, tight and in your face, and although I had never heard a note of their music prior to that evening, I left there a lifelong fan! Near the end of their set, Bon and Angus left the stage, leaving Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd onstage rocking like their lives depended on it. After the whole crowd roared and a spotlight went to the back of the arena, we all turned to see Bon Scott with Angus on this shoulders on the walkway between the upper and lower seating areas. The band was playing “Bad Boy Boogie” and Angus kept playing lead as Bon carried the thrashing wild man all the rest of the way around the arena and back onto the stage! It was a good thing for Kiss that they had all their pyro and awesome theatrics, because AC/DC came perilously close to stealing their thunder! But, luckily for us fans, Kiss did indeed bring the thunder. Back in those days, they put out a new album every 6 months, so even though I had seen them the previous year on the Destroyer tour, this time around they had already released Rock And Roll Over and Love Gun, so they had a ton of new songs to unleash to the hungry hordes in attendance at this show. Being as close as we were to the stage, my friends and I acquired a few souvenirs from the action. One of my buddies momentarily had his hands on a piece of the guitar that Paul Stanley smashed near the end of their set, but it was a feeding frenzy that he was destined to lose! I still have one of Paul’s guitar picks and a little piece of the towel that Gene Simmons wiped his face with after he spit the fake blood during his bass solo! Sorry for the novel (NOT!) but like I said, this was an EPIC show…one that changed my life…yeah, I saw Bon Scott from the front row…definitely worth bragging about!
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic