"Back in Black" is the 6th studio album by Australian hard rock band, AC/DC. It was released in 1980 on Atlantic Records and produced by Mutt Lange. The line-up for the album was Brian Johnson (vocals), Angus Young (guitar), Malcolm Young (guitar), Cliff Williams (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums). This was the first AC/DC album without former vocalist Bon Scott, who died earlier in the same year.
How do you replace a vocalist like Bon Scott? AC/DC was charged with that mammoth task if they was to continue as a band and settled with Geordie singer, Brian Johnson. Legend has it that Bon Scott himself first sounded out the Young brothers to Johnson's talents and upon hearing him in audition, they knew he was the man for the job. What transpired was "Back in Black"; the first AC/DC recording without Bon Scott and with Brian Johnson, and subsequently, the world's biggest selling album of all time, which was overtaken by Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in 1982.
Picking up where "Highway to Hell" left off, there are classic AC/DC songs on here but they do beg the question of how many songs were written specifically for Bon in mind and how many for Brian to sing. What is known is that the title song was written as a tribute to Bon, but none of the writing credits on the album go to him directly. There is a feeling that Bon had a hand in writing songs like "Have a Drink on Me" and "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution".
The album begins with the tolling of a bell, and the appropriately named "Hells Bells" kicks into Angus' and Malcolm's main riff before you get a taste of what Brian Johnson was capable of, and part-way through, you get to hear a classic Angus Young solo. The song is about Hell taking in another unfortunate soul, and the bells are chiming to announce the newcomer.
Shoot to Thrill
This has Brian Johnson at his best, backed by yet another great AC/DC riff. Many would say it's not the best song on the album by any means, but it does have that certain 'feel' to it. According to Johnson, the song is about the amount of women in England on Valium because of depression, although the lyrics would suggest it's about a man who thinks he's the best in town in the bedroom department.
What Do You Do For Money Honey
This is a song about good looking women who date or marry rich and older men, basically asking what levels some people would stoop to. It's one of the most surprising tracks on the album; The vocal harmony on the chorus gives it that happy sing-a-long edge, with Angus and Malcolm in unison throughout.
Given the Dog a Bone
This has perhaps the best riff on the whole album. You'll probably not find yourself singing along to the lyrics, but more often than not you'll be humming along to the insane main riff, as Brian Johnson belts out the vocals. The song is a fun and fruity number, if not a bit risqué with its lyrics and what it's really about.
Let Me Put My Love Into You
This track picks up where "Given the Dog a Bone" left off, and the title of the track is self explanatory as to what it's about. It's one of the slowest songs on the album but it also rocks at the same time. Angus and Malcolm change the pitch of the riffs on this track, and Angus' solo is masterful.
Back in Black
The titular song is perhaps one of the most well-known songs in the whole hard rock genre. Most certainly the main riff is, anyway, and if you asked AC/DC fans what their favourite record was, a lot of them would name this one. The song appears to be about someone who has just been released from prison and how he goes back to his old ways not long after. However, some say it's a tribute to Bon Scott. The solo on this song is one of the best you'll ever hear.
You Shook Me All Night Long
This is about a wild night in the bedroom for one lucky guy, and the video begins with Brian Johnson in a tin bath, which is a funny sight. The track is a huge crowd favourite live, and the chorus is insanely catchy. Again, Angus and Malcolm sound really good against the backdrop of Johnson's vocals. Angus' solo is a joy to listen to, as most would agree.
Have a Drink on Me
This takes us on a journey of heavy drinking and fun times, and is a direct tribute to fallen singer, Bon Scott's way of life. Bon was a bit of a hellrasier in his day, and this track is a perfect eulogy to the great man. You can almost hear Bon singing on the closing minute, although that isn't possible. It's another fun rock and roll song.
Shake a Leg
This song starts off slow, but the bridge between the chorus and third verse rocks good, and carries on throughout afterwards. The song is basically about putting two fingers up to society and doing what you want. Not for the first time on the album, Angus wows us with another incredible solo, making full use of the fret board.
Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution
This is the slowest and most groove-laden song on the album. It's also one of AC/DC's anthems, and a massive crowd favorite. It is believed that the song is against censorship of music and rock music in particular, and saying that this genre will not die or fade away like some people would want to see.
If you just want an AC/DC album because you heard they were pretty good, this album is the business... but you have to compare it to "Highway to Hell", too, because you can put the best of AC/DC with Bon Scott in the left hand, and the best of AC/DC with Brian Johnson in the other.
- 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