Review Summary: In the matter of best AC/DC album, there really is no discussion.
It is a glory for the legacy of a rock star to die young. On February 19, 1980, Bon Scott choked on his own vomit after a night of heavy drinking. He was 33 years old. Scott joined the immortals; he became legendary as the voice that led the world’s most successful hard rock band of all time to fame. Bon was key in creating the truehearted rock ‘n roll image of AC/DC, and died just when the band was hitting its peak. Back in Black
may have sold more copies, but do not doubt for a second this wasn’t partly because of Scott’s fate. Every fan of the band with his brains in the right place will tell you this: Scott-era AC/DC is the only AC/DC that really matters, and it is the singer’s last recording with the boys that culminates everything the band stands for: Highway to Hell
The title track, no doubt the most popular AC/DC song made with Scott, if not most popular AC/DC song in general in some places, is of course legendary in itself. The opening guitar riff, which’ immediate recognisability is only rivalled by the likes of Smoke on the Water
, Iron Man
and Whole Lotta Love
, the way that drum beat just comes in, and then, the man of the hour yelps out those famous lines, and AC/DC starts rocking the way they do it best: hard. Highway to Hell
is a rock anthem unmatched by very few, and it couldn’t have been right if it didn’t lead into AC/DC’s finest display of honest, badass RAWK.
Highway to Hell
truly does rock the hardest of AC/DC’s earlier records. Producer John 'Mutt' Lange, collaborating with the band on their two subsequent records as well, added a lot of energy by turning up Phil Rudd’s drum presence and adding some more volume to Scott’s lead vocals and the charismatic repeat backing choruses that are a signature of the group, which adds a nice extra bit of charisma to classics as Girls Got Rhythm
, Walk All Over You
, Touch Too Much
and Night Prowler
. Whereas Angus Young, always more the face of the band than its lead singer, had a notably bigger presence on previous records, the new production makes this an album where he is as big an influence on the sound as Scott. Despite this, the schoolboy devil is still very much where he belongs: all over the place, burning down his guitar with the power of the mighty riff.
Essentially, Highway to Hell
is just another AC/DC record. The difference is: AC/DC have never sounded more anthemic, loud and confident. It’s not going to change your mind about them; people love or hate AC/DC. There is no middle road. For those who say aye to 40 minutes of high-octane hard rock that wishes to do nothing more than to take you along and blast you away, this band salutes you. This record is ready, again and again, to teach you what rock really means. Is it good enough to warrant a classic rating? Hell yes it is.
High Voltage Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs:
Highway to Hell
Girls Got Rhythm
Touch Too Much
Shot Down in Flames
Highway to Hell’s AC/DC was:
- Ronald Belford ‘Bon’ Scott ~ Lead Vocals (R.I.P.)
- Angus McKinnon Young ~ Lead Guitar
- Malcolm Mitchell Young ~ Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Clifford Williams ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Philip Hugh Rudd ~ Drums
Bon Scott: born July 9 1946, Kirriemuir, Scotland – died February 19, 1980, London, England.
REST IN PEACE