Posts Tagged ‘AC/DC’

2008 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I buy a lot of music but the failing economy took it’s toll on my music budget. I was very lucky to have caught the attention of many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review (to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU), without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. The ranking of the Top 30 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into two posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16 – #30):

#16

motorhead-motorizerMotörhead - Motörizer

The only thing that Motörhead does year in and year out is make really good Heavy Metal albums and this year is no exception. MOTÖRIZER isn’t groundbreaking, it sounds just like all the other Motörhead records before it, but it’s a solid consistent effort from a band that is legendary but never gets the success it deserves. Any year with a new Motörhead album in it is a good one.

#17

acdc-black-iceAC/DC – Black Ice

It only took 8 years but AC/DC finally came roaring back with a really strong album in BLACK ICE. It’s more Blues than in your face Hard Rock but the typical AC/DC punch is still there. Brian Johnson sounds like he turned back the hands of time and the team of Angus & Malcolm Young on guitars still has the fire that burned in the ’70s & ’80s. A great comeback!

#18

Gypsy Pistoleros - Para Siempre (2008)Gypsy Pistoleros – Para Siempre

Technically, PARA SIEMPRE is a reissue of the Gypsy Pistoleros’ debut, WILD, BEAUTIFUL, DAMNED (2007), remastered with two additional songs added in. I wasn’t sold on taking traditional music from Spain and mixing it into a Hard Rock blender but the Pistoleros do a great job of channelling the Crue, GNR, and Hanoi Rocks mixed with flamenco and Spanish music. I’m half Colombian so I dig the Spanish influences and I really like the mix of English & Spanish (the band calls it “Spanglish”) to give it an added dimension.

#19

jorn-lonely-are-the-brave-2008Jorn – Lonely Are The Brave

Jorn Lande continues to make some of the best Metal records of the last decade and LONELY ARE THE BRAVE is no exception. Jorn is a monster vocally and the surrounding cast is as solid as they come. Unfortunately, I bought this very late in the year so I haven’t had much time to enjoy it.

#20

Brainstorm - Downburst (2008)Brainstorm – Downburst

Another great album from one of the most underrated bands in Heavy Metal. Brainstorm plays great epic Power Metal but DOWNBURST shows a band that is willing to evolve it’s sound and becoming more dynamic. It’s not a groundbreaking album but the band follows the path laid down by Primal Fear and Kamelot.

#21

dokken-lightning-strikes-again-2008Dokken – Lightning Strikes Again

Dokken’s best album since 1999′s ERASE THE SLATE, the band continues to play melodic Hard Rock with a great musicianship and songwriting. Jon Levin adds some George Lynch style playing back into the overall Dokken sound and the rhythm section of Barry Sparks and Mick Brown is as solid as ever. Don Dokken’s vocals are a little underwhelming because he doesn’t hit the highs he used to and there really isn’t a solid backing track. Still a very good album.

#22

nightranger-holeinthesun-usa coverNight Ranger – Hole In The Sun

HOLE IN THE SUN is a more modern sounding Night Ranger but there is still the trademark melodic sound that made them a big success back in their ’80s heyday. Best performance on the album goes to drummer/singer Kelly Keagy because his vocals were excellent. This album didn’t really get me at first but it grew on me as I played it more.

#23

temujin-1000-tears-2008Temujin – 1000 Tears

I’m a big fan of female-fronted Gothic/Ambient Metal and Temujin debuts with an album that has the guitars leading the way and the vocals keeping the listener entranced. Temujin vocalist Kelly has a beautiful voice that reminds me of The Gathering’s Anneke Van Giersbergen in that her performance is powerful without going over the top. A solid debut.

#24

tyr-landTýr – Land

LAND was my first experience listening to Týr and I was pleasantly surprised. Sometimes the terms Pagan Metal or Viking Metal throws fans off but what really is happening is Metal mixed with Nordic influences. Týr blends traditional folk to their Metal and uses their native language, as well as choir style backing vocals, to enhance their sound. This album got me into a whole new genre of Metal.

#25

Pharaoh - Be Gone (2008)Pharaoh – Be Gone

Pharaoh creates gool old traditional U.S. Metal based on good guitars, a solid rhythm section and good vocals. The band puts the power forward but you get the general idea after the first few songs. The album gets better as it continues and the band stretches out a little.

#26

the-sword-gods-of-the-earth (2008)The Sword – Gods Of The Earth

I didn’t get into The Sword’s first album but, when I put on this new album, I immeadiately heard what I was missing. GODS OF THE EARTH has an early Thrash and NWOBHM element added to a sludgy Doom Metal groove. It’s a very heavy record that’s grown on me all year long.

#27

Griffen - Linked In Eternity (2008)Griffen – Linked In Eternity

I found out about Griffen because of my obsession with ’80s Swedish metallers Torch: two current members of Torch are in Griffen. Technically, LINKED IN ETERNITY is a promo demo E.P. but it’s done so well I’m throwing it in the countdown. The band plays a really good blend of Traditional Metal and melodic Hard Rock so I have no idea how these guys aren’t signed to a label.

#28

uli-jon-roth-under-a-dark-skyUli Jon Roth – Under A Dark Sky

Anytime guitar maestro Uli Jon Roth releases a new album it’s a good year! How can you deny the talent of a man that was so unsatisfied with regular guitars that he went out and invented one (the Sky Guitar) that suited his ability? I gues you could call this a true Rock opera with all the classical elements and orchestral movements but the underlying focus is Roth’s playing.

#29

Black Tide - Light From Above (2008)Black Tide – Light From Above

A strong debut from a band whose members are only a couple years removed from high school. I was surprised with all the old school Metal influences in the music from such a young band. What the band lacks in experience they more than make up for in attitude and energy. A solid debut.

#30

metallica-death-magneticMetallica – Death Magnetic

See what happens when a band goes back and listens to their previous records, they make a Heavy Metal album! This is the album that Metallica needed to make to prove that they can still play Metal. Some of the songs are a little long but that’s a small complaint, the songs are really good…..better than I expected. Hopefully Metallica continues in this direction.

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Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15) for the other half of my Top 30 list.

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In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2008:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion

Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
Metal Excess

The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages

I’m trying like crazy to get back into the groove and catch up on a ton of new releases that are sitting on my desk but it’s hard to find the time. The holidays are right around the corner and that’s when my job gets harder, the hours get longer and the day gets more hectic. I’ve been spending more of my free time sleeping than listening to music but I have spun a few discs……

Brainstorm – Downburst (2008): I decided to revisit this album this weekend because I’ve pretty much ignored it since March. When DOWNBURST was released back in January I was really into it but it got put on the back burner for other new albums. I’ve been a Brainstorm fan since 2000′s AMBIGUITY and every album since has been really good but this album hasn’t had staying power with me.

Sammy Hagar – Cosmic Universal Fashion (2008): I’ve had Sammy’s new album for about a week and I’ve been listening regularly, I’ll save my thoughts for the review. I always liked Sammy Hagar, even in Van Halen, and I have been looking forward to this release. Sammy has put out some solid records since his first departure from Van Halen back in 1997 but I wasn’t a big fan of his last album LIVIN’ IT UP (2006).

AC/DC – Black Ice (2008): Still enjoying this album…..AC/DC needs to stop waiting eight years to release new material.

Helix – A Heavy Mental Christmas (2008): I’m already in the holiday spirit with three Classic Rock stations in my area playing non-stop Xmas music so the new Helix Xmas record has been a cool addition.

Riot – Fire Down Under (1981): One of my all-time favorite albums from one of my all-time favorite bands. ‘Swords & Tequila’, ‘Outlaw’ and ‘Altar Of The King’ are all early Heavy Metal classics. Guy Speranza had a cool voice and the first three Riot records are some of the best early U.S. Metal going.

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction (1987): CHINESE DEMOCRACY is about a week away from it’s long awaited release so I’m starting to listen to some GNR to get ready.

The first time I heard AC/DC was on the local Rock radio station when I was about 8 years old…..yeah, I go way back! I heard this powerful guitar play the heaviest riff (didn’t know what a riff was back then!) and then the singer came on and the guy couldn’t sing. It was like he was shrieking into the microphone! The one thing I did know was that the song I was listening to was cool…..that song was ‘Back in Black’. I started out at the beginning of the Brian Johnson era with AC/DC and I was finding it hard to understand what was so cool about a singer that couldn’t sing and a new album with a plain black cover. I laugh about it now but at 8 years old I just had no clue! I didn’t even know that AC/DC had a different singer (Bon Scott) and that he had died just a few months prior. This was part of the innocence, or ignorance, of my youth.

I spent hours at my local record stores pouring over vinyl to look at the covers and then buying the cassette version. My first AC/DC album was bought in 1981 and it was BACK IN BLACK. I remember it like yesterday because I was looking through the new albums and there was this new AC/DC album with a cannon on the cover (FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK…WE SALUTE YOU) and I decided that if I was going to listen to AC/DC, I’d better start with BACK IN BLACK. Now I had already heard the whole BACK IN BLACK album, I just didn’t own it. I was lucky to have some older kids living across the street and they were the “rockers” of the neighborhood. They used to sit on their front porch with their friends and listen to tapes all day and smoke cigarettes. Back in those days, us kids were always outside, especially on weekends and in the summer, so I always tried to get the kids my age to play ball closer to the guys playing the music. That idea didn’t always work but sometimes I would get a hit and make it to third (the driveway of this particular house) and I would groove to the tunes these denim clad guys were playing. One day, I was the only kid outside and I decided to actually cross the street and ask if these guys liked AC/DC. These guys were all in high school, 8 to 10 years my senior, so I was a bit afraid but they ended up playing me the BACK IN BLACK album.

Anyway, I ended up buying FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK a few months later and then I bought FLICK OF THE SWITCH (1983) and FLY ON THE WALL (1985) when they came out. At this point I wasn’t really into the older AC/DC albums with the original singer, the current AC/DC was my AC/DC. My first album of the Bon Scott era was HIGHWAY TO HELL (1979) because I always heard the title track on the radio. I knew it word for word and I liked it so I decided to grab it when I bought the WHO MADE WHO (1986) soundtrack. It was like two different bands but also the same. After that, I was hooked on the Bon Scott era and I slowly collected all the older AC/DC albums. Today I tend to lean more towards the Bon Scott era.

AC/DC has been an important band for me because of the way I first heard them on the radio and outside on the neighbor’s porch. I wish it was still that way today! When was the last time you saw a group of teenagers huddled around a boombox or stereo listening to the newest albums? Ask kids today and they are either playing video games or surfing the Net while music is playing as background noise. Same goes for radio…..when was the last time you heard a song so distinct and so cool on the radio? Seriously, today’s radio is more about repeating the same playlist loop over and over to give the listener something to hear in between commercial breaks. It wasn’t like this back in my childhood and I will always remember hearing bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC for the first time the way I did.

AC/DC – Black Ice (2008, Columbia)

  1. Rock N Roll Train
  2. Skies On Fire
  3. Big Jack
  4. Anything Goes
  5. War Machine
  6. Smash N Grab
  7. Spoilin’ For A Fight
  8. Wheels
  9. Decibel
  10. Stormy May Day
  11. She Likes Rock N Roll
  12. Money Made
  13. Rock N Roll Dream
  14. Rocking All The Way
  15. Black Ice

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

Producer: Brendan O’Brien

Total Time = 55:30

AC/DC official website

Hard to believe that it’s been 8 years since AC/DC released a new album! Turn the radio to any Rock station at any time and you can bet an AC/DC song is playing…..there, I just did it…..’Highway To Hell’. After many attempts to get started, and rumors flying the band was on permanent hiatus, AC/DC delivered one of the most anticipated albums of the year with the release of BLACK ICE. I was at the front door of my local Wal-Mart on Monday 10/20 for this exclusive release with the band’s latest radio single ‘Rock N Roll Train’ firmly planted in my brain.

So what is really new about the band? Nothing. That is what makes AC/DC great, they never change. Some Rock fans preach how a band needs to grow, to improve on their accomplishments, but the guys in AC/DC are still following their basic formula for strong Blues-based three chord Hard Rock that they’ve had since 1975. Why mess with success? Brian Johnson may be 61 but he still has a strong growling voice, Angus & Malcolm Young still play their guitars with attitude and power, and Cliff Williams & Phil Rudd supply the rhythmic foundation that the songs are built on. What more is needed?

After tearing the cellophane away and hearing the anthemic new single (a song that fits right in with all the other hits), the band moves into the bluesy stomp of ‘Skies On Fire’, a song that sounds like the FLICK OF THE SWITCH era, and the fist-pumping hard rocker ‘Big Jack’, a tune full of meaty chords from the brothers Young. Both songs easily fit alongside ‘Rock N Roll Train’ as possible singles. ‘Anything Goes’ features a more melodic side rather than pure power with Brian Johnson toning down his balls out style for more of a singing style. More power chords are in store when the fist pumping battle cry ‘War Machine’ hits the stereo. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album because it sounds like early AC/DC from the Bon Scott era where the band builds on a simple blues base and attacks with precision. Brian Johnson adds a trace of the sinister Bon style to his straight forward growl while the backing vocals from Malcolm and Cliff  sound like they came straight off HIGH VOLTAGE or HIGHWAY TO HELL.

‘Smash N Grab’ is a mid-tempo blues number with some cool licks from Angus and a smooth delivery from Brian but the best part of this song is the thumping bass from Cliff Williams. A lot of accolades get thrown at Angus, Malcolm and Brian but Cliff Williams has been providing solid bass playing for 31+ years, the guy is as solid as they come. The band continues the Hard Rock flow with the guitar driven ‘Spoilin For A Fight’ and the old school vibe of uptempo rocker ‘Wheels’. ‘Wheels’ especially catches my attention as another potential single or song in the setlist because it’s uptempo, has some serious Angus axework and has that full sound with the rhythm guitar and backing vocals filling the sound nicely. The pace slows down to a mid-tempo groove on ‘Decibel’, a song where things are taken down a notch but still provides that power punch the band delivers so well. It’s another blues rock affair with some of the best Angus leads on the album. Same formula follows for ‘Stormy May Day’, another mid-tempo stomper that retains it’s power with a subtle delivery. Put ‘Decibel’ and ‘Stormy May Day’ together in the same box because they sound close to each other…..then again most people think all AC/DC songs sound the same!

‘She Likes Rock N Roll’ is a little simplistic in the chorus but the guitar riff is very catchy and the bass has a little funkiness to it, definitely a good radio song. Mid-tempo bluesy Rock hits hard on ‘Money Made’ with one of the most simple but catchiest choruses of the album: “Work, work, money made”…..sounds like all I do! Nice simple pounding from Phil Rudd here right up front in the mix with a clean main riff and cool rhythm track, the song just gets the head bobbing and foot tapping. ‘Rock N Roll Dream’ starts off like a ballad (something AC/DC rarely does!) but the main guitar kicks in and the song gets heavier when the chorus arrives. Brian Johnson gives us some actual singing rather than his “go for the throat” style so it’s a different change of pace all around. Not my favorite song on the album but it’s not a bad one either, just average. ‘Rocking All The Way’ sounds like one of those mid-80s AC/DC songs from either the FLY ON THE WALL or WHO MADE WHO albums. It just sounds a bit light and commercial, not enough bite until the guitar solo. The album closer is the title track and it is an strong blues rocker that has the bite that ‘Rocking All The Way’ lacked. Ultra cool riff, solid rhythm guitar and a pounding backline all added to a smooth Brian Johnson delivery…..AC/DC save a good one for the parting shot!

Bottom Line:
Was 8 years worth the wait? Hell yes! AC/DC decided to buckle down and gives the fans an album worthy of standing toe to toe with some of the greats from years past. Sure this isn’t the famed BACK IN BLACK or THE RAZOR’S EDGE from the Brian Johnson era but the band has taken charge and created an album rich in Blues based Hard Rock. I’d call BLACK ICE a continuation of the sound the band had on STIFF UPPER LIP but done better. And the band gives us 15 solid songs! That’s a lot of good music for your buck! I’ve been enjoying this record since I grabbed it the day of release and I can tell right away that this is one of those CDs that is not going to leave my playlist for a long time.

Favorite Songs: ‘Rock N Roll Train’, ‘War Machine’, ‘Black Ice’, ‘Big Jack’, ‘Wheels’, ‘Money Made’

The original 5 videos were actually one long form video released for the FLY ON THE WALL album and they were all broken up for MTV/radio consumption. I put them all here in the correct order that they were in on the FLY ON THE WALL VHS.

‘Fly On The Wall’

‘Danger’

‘Sink The Pink’

‘Stand Up’

‘Shake Your Foundations’

AC/DC – Fly On The Wall (1985, Atlantic)

  1. Fly On The Wall
  2. Shake Your Foundations
  3. First Blood
  4. Danger
  5. Sink The Pink
  6. Playing With Girls
  7. Stand Up
  8. Hell Or High Water
  9. Back In Business
  10. Send For The Man

Band Lineup:
Brian Johnson – Lead Vocals
Angus Young – Lead Guitar
Malcolm Young – Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals
Cliff Williams – Bass & Backing Vocals
Simon Wright - Drums

Produced by: Angus Young & Malcolm Young

Total Time = 40:20

AC/DC official website

I listen back on FLY ON THE WALL with a lot of fond memories. The record came out in the summer of 1985 and I got it for my 13th birthday, not a bad gift! When I went back to school a few weeks later all my friends had the album too and it became one of the soundtracks of my last year of grammar school. The best songs were ‘Sink The Pink’ and ‘Shake Your Foundations’ and I remember rewinding that cassette back and forth to keep listening to those two tracks. These two singles were also the two big videos for the band on MTV but then the FLY ON THE WALL VHS came out and I started to get into ‘Danger’, ‘Stand Up’ and the title cut. Back in the day it was all about the videos. Another reason I got into the video songs a little more was that ‘Sink the Pink’ and ‘Shake Your Foundations’ were featured on the WHO MADE WHO (1986) album and that record exploded. I always got a kick out of the kids that didn’t know that those two songs were released a year earlier on a “real” album.

Listening to the album now, the same five songs stand out just as much as they did 23 years ago but I had forgotten that the other half of the album was also pretty good. Of the other five, ‘Hell Or High Water’, ‘Playing With Girls’ and ‘First Blood’ stand out a little more than they did. What is really cool about this album is that AC/DC still made their usual brand of Hard Rock at a time when a Glam look, sex-filled lyrics and faster guitar techniques were all the rage. AC/DC came out, did what they usually did, and made no excuses! Maybe that’s another reason I like this album, you could take a simple formula like this and make a solid record without all the frills and excesses.

Bottom Line:
A pretty good record with five songs featured prominently as singles/videos. The album is more of a trip down memory lane for me but it’s also a “lost” album because it’s sandwiched between ’83′s FLICK OF THE SWITCH and ’86′s WHO MADE WHO. When I get sick of hearing all the usual AC/DC radio hits, I put on FLY ON THE WALL and remember how exciting it was to have this record when it was a new album.

Favorite Songs: ‘Sink The Pink’, ‘Shake Your Foundations’, ‘Danger’

‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’

‘Let’s Get It Up’

AC/DC – For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) (1981, Atlantic)

  1. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
  2. Put The Finger On You
  3. Let’s Get It Up
  4. Inject The Venom
  5. Snowballed
  6. Evil Walks
  7. C.O.D.
  8. Breaking The Rules
  9. Night Of The Long Knives
  10. Spellbound

Band Lineup:
Brian Johnson – 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 = 40:01

AC/DC official website

This was the first album I bought in 1982. I will never forget going to Good Vibrations about a week after Christmas with a gift certificate I got as a present stuffed in my pocket along with a little cash. I remember walking in the store, seeing the new release rack with FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK displayed right up front. The album had come out in late November and I had it on my Christmas list but buying Rock tapes wasn’t something my family was going to do because they still considered me a kid (I was 9 yrs old!). Thanks to my Mom, I had an envelope to open Christmas morning with a $10 gift certificate inside! Probably the best present I got that year!

I used my good fortune to buy FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK on both vinyl and cassette, blowing everything I had in my wallet. I had never bought two formats of the same album but I remember having this theory that the title track was so good that the album had to be completely awesome. That meant I needed the vinyl for home and the tape for school when Xmas break was over. We used to listen to tapes in the schoolyard before school (the nuns hated that!) and I knew for a fact that none of my friends had, or got for Xmas, this album. Mom had a cassette deck in her car so I was able to enjoy my new album on the way home…..for some reason, Mom shut me down when she heard ‘Let’s Get It Up’ and ‘Inject The Venom’ and she pulled over to inspect the rest of the song titles!

I’ve always had a soft spot for this album, not only because of the buying experience, but because I think it gets forgotten following AC/DC’s two biggest records: HIGHWAY TO HELL (1979) and BACK IN BLACK (1980). This album is kind of like a new band’s follow-up after a huge debut album, it had to follow the international phenomenon that was BACK IN BLACK with the death of original throat Bon Scott still fresh in fans’ minds. This was also the first time I had bought a new AC/DC album so close to it’s release date so this was fresh music, I hadn’t heard much on the radio aside from the title track.

‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’ is one of the best songs AC/DC ever recorded and is embedded into most fans’ brains as one of the top Heavy Metal anthems of all-time…..not much has to be said about this classic. The next three songs are my favorites from the album: ‘Put The Finger On You’ reminds me of ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ with it’s groove, ‘Let’s Get It Up’ has that sleazy stomp that defined the Bon-era, ‘Inject The Venom’ is heavy as hell and has serious power. Of them all, ‘Inject The Venom’ is tops for me on the record and even surpasses the iconic title song. I’ve always liked how the music cuts out for Brian Johnson’s vocal and the chorus has power without being overdone.

‘Snowballed’ is a cool uptempo song that slows come the chorus, Brian belting the lyrics while Angus and Malcolm weave in and out of the groove. I’ve never liked ‘Evil Walks’ or ‘C.O.D.’ for some reason. It’s not necessarily that they are bad songs, I just never got past the titles and they follow five great songs. ‘Breaking The Rules’ slows the album down to about the same pace as the title cut but it doesn’t have the bite to it as ‘For Those About To Rock’, I describe it usually as being too “quiet”. The tempo picks up again with the much under-rated ‘Night Of The Long Knives’, a song that sports a cool Angus riff and cymbal crashing from Phil Rudd. This song picks up right where ‘Snowballed’ left off, I almost wish this one was farther up in the sequencing to keep the pace going. ‘Spellbound’ is another mid-tempo song like ‘Breaking The Rules’ but it’s better due to it’s groove. I’ve always felt like the band was holding back a little around the chorus, needing a little more power.

Bottom Line:
A near perfect record! If I could get into ‘Evil Walks’, ‘C.O.D.’ and ‘Breaking The Rules’ more then I think that the album would be flawless. That said, this seems to be my favorite Brian Johnson-era album, even surpassing the mega-seller BACK IN BLACK! The best songs for me are ‘Inject The Venom’, the title track and ‘Night Of The Long Knives’.

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.

AC/DC – High Voltage (1975, Atlantic)

  1. It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer
  3. The Jack
  4. Live Wire
  5. T.N.T.
  6. Can I Sit Next To You Girl
  7. Little Lover
  8. She’s Got Balls
  9. High Voltage

Band Lineup:
Bon Scott – Lead Vocals & Bagpipes
Angus Young – Lead Guitar
Malcolm Young – Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals
Mark Evans – Bass & Backing Vocals
Phil Rudd – Drums

Produced by: Harry Vanda & George Young

Total Time = 44:37

AC/DC official website

HIGH VOLTAGE is one of my favorite AC/DC albums but, before I discuss the record, I need to clarify the album’s history. This version is the international version released in May 1976 but the original Australian debut was released in February 1975 with a different tracklisting. Only two songs from the Australian release made it onto the international: ‘Little Lover’ & ‘She’s Got Balls’. The other seven songs on this international version of HIGH VOLTAGE come from the band’s December 1975 Australian only sophomore effort….. T.N.T. So if we look closely at this version of HIGH VOLTAGE, it’s really T.N.T. minus two songs.

HIGH VOLTAGE was my second Bon Scott era AC/DC album, the first being the classic HIGHWAY TO HELL (1979). I grew up listening to this album without even knowing it! For as long as I can remember, local Rock radio stations have been playing 6 out of 9 songs from this album with regularity. The only three I’ve never heard on the radio are ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl’, ‘Little Lover’ and ‘She’s Got Balls’ and they are all solid songs with that sleazy/sinister Bon Scott vocal over a Blues riff. ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)’ (one of my Top 5 AC/DC songs of all-time), ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer’ and the title track are my three favorite songs on the album, I especially like the bagpipes on ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ because it adds a distinct element to the song. ‘Live Wire’, ‘The Jack’ and ‘T.N.T.’ are radio and concert staples and I hear them all the time so I get a little burnt with them. Don’t get me wrong, all of them are great songs, just overplayed in my area.

Bottom Line:
Probably the best AC/DC album that everyone forgets about! Every song is classic and shows that, even though they were a young band, AC/DC were already at the top of their game. I reach for this record more than I do HIGHWAY TO HELL or the landmark BACK IN BLACK (1980).

Today is the big day! The U.S. release of AC/DC’s new record…..BLACK ICE! I went out to Wal-Mart right after I dropped my daughter off at school, by 8:30 it was mine! There was a ton of AC/DC product and promotion all over the store and the new album was well-stocked, as was the rest of the band’s catalogue…..they had EVERY album. That doesn’t usually happen in a Wal-Mart.

AC/DC – Black Ice (2008) – $11.88: Can’t beat the sale price but it’s Wal-Mart…..the most evil of big corporations! I’m in a Union (UFCW – United Food and Commercial Workers) and Wal-Mart is something I stand against. I don’t shop there at all but, like the new releases from The Eagles, REO Speedwagon and Journey, it’s the only store in town to buy BLACK ICE! Anyway, I wanted the red lettered cover but I only saw the silver and yellow….. I grabbed the silver.

AC/DC – No Bull (The Director’s Cut) DVD – $10: I passed on this DVD earlier in September because it’s a Wal-Mart exclusive and because I wanted to compare the original release to this re-release. When I grabbed the BLACK ICE disc, I couldn’t help noticing the price point for this DVD, 10 bucks is a great price, too good to pass up. It’s been a tough year for music DVDs, I’ve only bought a few this year so I figured I would treat myself.

I have every AC/DC album, except for T.N.T. (1975) and the new album BLACK ICE, and they are all loaded into my MP3 player. I know all of these albums so well that listening to them in their proper order gets stale sometimes. I like to mix it all up and shuffling all the Bon Scott era tracks in with the Brian Johnson era is a nice way to keep it fresh. AC/DC is on the radio so much but I only ever hear the same 20 or so songs, I need a deep track now and then!

Here’s the first 20 songs from AC/DC off my Dell DJ (song-album-year):

  1. ‘Touch Too Much’ – Highway To Hell (1979)
  2. ‘Meltdown’ – Stiff Upper Lip (2000)
  3. ‘Mistress For Christmas’ – The Razor’s Edge (1990)
  4. ‘Inject the Venom’ – For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)
  5. ‘Let’s Get It Up’ – For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)
  6. ‘Nervous Shakedown’ – Flick Of the Switch (1983)
  7. ‘Ride On’ – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
  8. ‘Boogie Man’ – Ballbreaker (1995)
  9. ‘All Screwed Up’ – Stiff Upper Lip (2000)
  10. ‘Girls Got Rhythm’ – Highway to Hell (1979)
  11. ‘Nick Of Time’ – Blow Up Your Video (1988)
  12. ‘T.N.T.’ – High Voltage (1975)
  13. ‘Rising Power’ – Flick Of The Switch (1983)
  14. ‘Up To My Neck In You’ – Powerage (1978)
  15. ‘Problem Child’ – Let there Be Rock (1977)
  16. ‘Cover You In Oil’ – Ballbreaker (1995)
  17. ‘Night Of The Long Knives’ – For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)
  18. ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ – ’74 Jailbreak (1984)
  19. ‘I Put The Finger On You’ – For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)
  20. ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ – Let There Be Rock (1977)

Bonus Track: ‘Sink The Pink’ – Fly On The Wall (1985)

Interesting mix of songs here but two things are plainly obvious: my MP3 player prefers the Brian Johnson era and it’s favorite record is FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK WE SALUTE YOU! Seven songs out of twenty were sung by the late Bon Scott and four tunes were from FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK. What surprised me about this mixtape was that not one song from BACK IN BLACK (1980) came up!