AC/DC – Highway To Hell (1979)

AC/DC – Highway To Hell (1979, Atlantic)

  1. Highway To Hell
  2. Girls Got Rhythm
  3. Walk All Over You
  4. Touch Too Much
  5. Beating Around The Bush
  6. Shot Down In Flames
  7. Get It Hot
  8. If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
  9. Love Hungry Man
  10. Night Prowler

Band Lineup:
Bon Scott – Lead Vocals
Angus Young – Lead Guitar
Malcolm Young – Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals
Cliff Williams – Bass & Backing Vocals
Phil Rudd – Drums

Producer: Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Total Time = 41:42

AC/DC official website

HIGHWAY TO HELL seems to be the definitive Bon Scott era AC/DC album. If you add the band’s steady success and rising popularity with Bon’s tragic death a mere 6 months after the album’s release, then you have the legend that is HIGHWAY TO HELL. As of it’s last certification, the album is 8x Platinum in the U.S. and the singles ‘Highway To Hell’ and ‘Girls Got Rhythm’ are Classic Rock radio staples. This was my first Bon Scott-era AC/DC record.

I picked up HIGHWAY TO HELL sometime in late 1982 because I knew that the voice I heard on my BACK IN BLACK (1980) and FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK (1981) albums was much different then the voice I heard singing these songs on the radio. Some people think Bon Scott and Brian Johnson sound similar but I hear two distinct singers. I was about 10 years old at the time and I was obsessed with album covers, HIGHWAY TO HELL was no exception. Nothing was cooler than Angus Young in the schoolboy uniform with a pair of devil’s horns and a tail but I couldn’t figure out where Brian Johnson (the guy with the snap cap) was! Once I put a face (Bon) to the songs on the radio (‘Highway To Hell’, etc.), it was like I discovered a whole new band.

My all-time favorite AC/DC song is here on this record, the powerful ‘If You Want Blood (You Got It)’. All the Rock radio stations I listened to when I was a kid played that song, ‘Girls Got Rhythm’ and the title track over and over until they were burned in my brain. They still play these three songs just as much today but ‘Shot Down In Flames’ has gained ground over the years! I remember everyone loved the title song and ‘Girls Got Rhythm’ because they were the first two songs on Side 1 and ‘Shot Down In Flames’ opens Side 2 but ‘If You Want Blood’ was in the middle of Side 2. Most people I knew would fast forward the tapes or skip on the record to get to the singles but I have always been an album guy…..the deep tracks are what I like best. ‘If You Want Blood’ was a single but not as big as the first two songs on the record.

I used to spin this record a ton after I bought it and every song was really great. I still get a kick out of ‘Touch Too Much’ (a song I hear occasionally on the radio), ‘Walk All Over You’ and the album closer ‘Night Prowler’. When i spin this CD today I usually skip over the first two songs and ‘Shot Down In Flames’ because I hear them enough on the radio.

Bottom Line:
I think most would agree that HIGHWAY TO HELL ties with BACK IN BLACK as the most popular AC/DC album. Sales figures have the latter way ahead but when fans get into the “Bon vs. Brian” discussions, these are the two albums that get the most critical comparisons and the older fans side with HIGHWAY. This album is the pinnacle of the band’s work with Bon Scott. Of course a lot of that has to do with the fact that he passed away 6 months later but, if you listen to all the early albums, you can hear the progression in the band’s sound. HIGH VOLTAGE (1975) is my favorite Bon-era record but HIGHWAY TO HELL is a close #2.