AC/DC – Back in Black (1980) – Review

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Okay, I get it – we write the Year of the Lord 2014, and this AC/DC record is so old it should already have turned to dust. Along with everything else that lived back then.

But you know what?

Back in Black did not descend into oblivion, far from it. And many of them bands are still present today. The ones that rocked through music halls already way back in time. Okay, admittedly a bit more worn out they are indeed these days and not so fresh anymore, but still commanding sizable audiences.

And I do agree that the only thing they really know how to do (and constantly deliver) is good, old, solid Hard Rock (some call it Heavy Metal and I tend to agree). And their style hardly changed over the years, which is not bad in itself. Sometimes it is good for the soul if some things remain as they (n)ever were.

In truth, Back in Black is probably one of the greatest albums the Australian band AC/DC ever produced. The record was kind of a turning point in their career. Not that they had a choice in the matter. A fresh direction and totally amazing boost of energy. A hurricane of sorts. One that nobody really expected.

This occurred just after the untimely demise of the former, excellent lead singer Bon Scott at age 33. And we were all kind of wondering what was going to happen to an AC/DC that we thought was already pretty good with what they produced until then. And also pretty much dead themselves, after their main icon just drowned himself in alcohol. So, what an absolutely amazing turnaround.

It almost felt like some sort of resurrection.

And then – WHAM!! Here goes Hells Bells – the lead track – with the bells that start tolling, followed by Angus Young‘s stellar riff.

Holy. Fucking. Metal. Cow.

Shivers down my spine. I still remember that we let the first track rip and stood there with our mutual mouths agape. Until we jumped into the air and started rocking, that is. I still use that track to jolt me awake in the morning.

So far so good, you think.

And in comes the new frontman. Brian who? Life of Brian (the film – just released in 1979)? Who the fuck is Brian Johnson? But then you hear him take off. In a totally different style than Bon, but HOLY COW. Taking off like a rocket and jazzing up the energy to unknown levels. With a voice that has a reach right out to space, screeching away and heating things up.

Is that smoke coming out of my loudspeakers?

It is this new energy level that permeates this whole record. And later ones too – just think about records like Black Ice, The Razor’s Edge, or Rock or Bust. Well, Back in Black will not let you come down to earth until it is over and the last note consumed. You must remain in space until this is all over. And as from that first moment, everyone knew who Brian Johnson is – never forgotten since.

Yeah, I know!

You purists think that Bon Scott was much better and so forth. And I have them all, the earlier records. Some stellar stuff there, too. Just think about albums like Let There Be Rock from 1977. I just start salivating only by thinking about it. But we should not mix eras. Before was before and after 1980 there is a new and – I daresay – better era for this band. Or at least as good as before. 

And, also, AC/DC is not something for you politically correct and refined folks out there. They do cuss, use terrible and sexist language, and are obnoxious, and I love them. So, if you don’t like it, go listen to some classical terrors. Together with the rest of the penguins and enjoy some civilized finger-sized sandwiches. Whereas we are having some rocking good fun. Whiskey, girls (or boys, if this is your fancy), and good rock’n’roll.

There you have a nice cliché!

I absolutely love Hells Bells – no kidding, What do you do for Money Honey, Shoot to Thrill even if it – supposedly – glorifies violence and Back in Black (the title song). The lyrics of these tracks kind of suck, like they often do with this band. And you will find a fair amount of fillers. But how this album just pounds everything else into the dust will never cease to amaze me. It is this outstanding energy, this lighting flash of scorching rock and metal that will really carry you through the record. 

Back in Black (the album) positively rocks through the tracks, and never lets go until the last track. The record is absolutely worth your time of day if you are in the mood. I listened to the album many, many times and never tired of it. Still don’t – and it has been some years since I got myself a copy. What an amazing piece of stellar Hard Rock-infused Heavy Metal.

I can only recommend it.

Ed’s note: The record successfully made it onto the RockmusicRaider Old’n’Tasty series. Congratulations!

Record Rating: 10/10 | Label: Atlantic Records | Web: Official Site
Release date: 25 July 1980

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