Must Own Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Albums :
Artist : AC/DC
Album : Back In Black
Released : July 25, 1980
M.M. Album Rating : 5/5 (The Greatest Comeback Record In Music History !)
July 25, 1980. The band known as AC/DC would release their 6th studio album titled “Back In Black”. An album that as of today is one of the five greatest selling records in music history. With an estimated total of over 50 million copies sold worldwide, and songs known to many as well as the back of their hand, it’s a record that never ages. It remains relevant year after year, continuing to sell at a high number. It has songs that are played somewhere every minute of the day. From sporting events, to classic and hard rock radio. Even in television commercials. With that being said though, just a small portion of people know the story behind this album. How it was made under duress and tragedy. And the story of how it became a success is even more remarkable than the legendary music itself.
At the beginning of 1980, AC/DC was coming off their greatest and most successful album to date “Highway To Hell.” That record had shown a band now in their prime, with lead singer Bon Scott, and the band especially guitar player Angus Young becoming superstars. For the past five years the band had found their grove with a unique hard rock sound that was all their own. Especially with their charismatic and humorous frontman Bon. He could write lyrics that could make you laugh, scare you, and amaze you all in the same song. In February of 1980 brothers Malcolm and Angus Young were finishing up the music they had written for the follow up to “Highway To Hell”. Within the next few days they would be ready for Bon to come over and write lyrics for the new music. Unfortunately, that would never happen, because on February 19, 1980 Bon Scott would die after a night of heavy drinking.
Losing a singer, and a frontman like Bon Scott would be like The Rolling Stones losing Mick Jagger, or Led Zeppelin losing Robert Plant. No one thought the band could survive such a tragic loss. Right after the funeral though, with the insistence of Bon’s mother they decided to try to continue. Imagine losing the heart and soul of your band and having to move on. Fortunately though they had a couple things in their favor to have a small chance at success. For one, Malcolm and Angus Young had been on their greatest creative streak. Just as the previous album would show. Second was they had a musical genius producing the sessions. When producer “Robert “Mutt” Lange” heard the music Angus and Malcolm had written he encouraged them to record it quickly.
The band first thought of hiring a singer that sounded somewhat like Bon. They would first ask Lead Singer of the band Krokus Marc Storace to audition. He would turn it down though (think he regrets that now ?) so then they would turn their attention to a singer who Bon had told them he was a fan of named Brian Johnson. Brian would come in and sing his heart out for the band, and Mutt. He would get the job, and even though he had no experience writing lyrics, would help finish these songs. It was decided early on that the album would be a tribute to Bon. Just a pure black cover with nothing on it. The record company would protest however, and the band compromised with having just their name embroiled with the words “Back In Black”.
Just under five months after Bon died “Back In Black” was released. It’s the perfect example of what can happen following a tragedy. They could’ve given up, and folded, but they had faith in themselves and in the music they were creating. All these years later it still is amazing what the band accomplished in these circumstances. It would become the ultimate tribute to their fallen bandmate, and an example of how anything is possible no matter what obstacles you are faced with. The album is 37 years old today. It hasn’t aged one bit !
Track Listing :
Side One :
Shoot to Thrill
What Do You Do for Money Honey
Givin the Dog a Bone
Let Me Put My Love Into You
Side Two :
Back in Black
You Shook Me All Night Long
Have a Drink on Me
Shake a Leg
Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution
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