Pedro B.

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Last Active 04-29-20 1:18 pm
Joined 10-01-04

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Highway to Hell v Back in Black

AC/DC's consecutive magnum opuses go blow for blow. Who will win?
Highway to Hell / Hells Bells

Both albums make a very strong first impression, each leading off with an all-time classic which remains a live staple to this day. But while Hells Bells has the second best intro of DC's entire career - losing only to the almighty Thunderstruck - it dips considerably after the first verse, and one suspects, were it not for the intro, it would not be quite as famous as it is. Highway, on the other hand, is a treatise on how to write a minimalist hard rock song, complete with an instantly recognisable monster riff and a short but incredibly sweet solo from axe-master Angus Young. The earlier album takes the lead coming out of the gate.

WINNER: Highway to Hell
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 1 - 0 Black
2Girls Got Rhythm / Shoot to Thrill

The albums' strong start continues with track #2, which presents a fun, swaggering slab of sleazy rock'n'roll. But while Girls Got Rhythm is an incredibly fun song with a great riff and chorus, Shoot to Thrill is a stone-cold classic in the band's repertoire, with another one of Angus and Malcolm's all-time best intros and riffs. Back in Black really gets going with its second track, and catches up to Highway around the first bend.

WINNER: Back in Black
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 1 - 1 Black
3Walk All Over You / What Do You Do For Money Honey

Track #3 marks the first real moment of disparity in quality between the two albums. What Do You Do For Money Honey is a fun track in context, but hardly worth a mention in an overview of the band's discography, while Walk All Over You is an oddly overlooked slice of sleazy, swaggering, slow-burning rock and roll, and a clear winner in this round.

WINNER: Highway to Hell
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 2 - 1 Black
4Touch Too Much / Given the Dog a Bone

And speaking of disparity in quality, here is a minor classic for the band going up against a song even fans consider to be less than stellar. The term 'no-contest' may well have been invented for this particular match-up.

WINNER: Highway to Hell
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 3 - 1 Black
5Let Me Put My Love Into You / Beating Around the Bush

Round #5 pits two heavily sexually charged songs against each other, and sees the slow, sweaty, dirty one win out over the less than memorable mid-tempo one. Black claws one right back halfway through the race, and keeps the contest even going into the second half.

WINNER: Back in Black
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 3 - 2 Black
6Shot Down in Flames / Back in Black

The most heart-breaking round in this contest sees a fun, underrated song with another great Young & Young riff pitted against one of the best-known songs in hard rock history. For cultural relevance, if nothing else, Back in Black runs away with this one, and catches up to its predecessor once again.

WINNER: Back in Black
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 3 - 3 Black
7Get It Hot / You Shook Me All Night Long

What's a bigger mis-match than Touch Too Much vs Given the Dog a Bone? The least memorable song in Highway to Hell - and arguably its only weak track - against a widely-acknowledged Top 3 AC/DC cut, with the best solo Angus Young ever wrote and another iconic intro and riff. A squash match if ever there was one gives Black the lead for the first time in this contest.

WINNER: Back in Black
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 3 - 4 Black
8If You Want Blood (You Got It) / Have a Drink on Me

Back to the evenly-matched battles after that squash match. Track 8 on both albums is a fun, if not exactly classic, song, with not much to choose between them. With the choice ultimately depending on personal preference, this one is declared a draw.

TOTAL SCORE: Highway 4 - 5 Black
9Love Hungry Man / Shake a Leg

Track #9 is a low point for either album, with both songs being unremarkable and utterly skippable. Even still, Love Hungry Man is a fair bit better than its dreadful Back in Black counterpart, contributing to even the scores yet again going into the final round.

WINNER: Highway to Hell
TOTAL SCORE: Highway 5 - 5 Black
10Night Prowler / Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution

After nine tracks of hard-hitting classic rock, both albums choose to end on a slow, bluesy note, with Highway to Hell turning the sleaze up to eleven while Back in Black prefers to make a straightforward statement about its chosen musical genre. The results are stellar in both cases, with Noise Pollution even being considered #6 of Black's Big 5, and once again the choice comes down to preference. Prowler is perhaps the better song, but Noise Pollution is slightly more culturally relevant, making the final round of this contest - and the overall contest itself - a draw. Even 40 years on, there is still nothing to choose between the two albums from an objective standpoint, and while everyone has their personal preference - present list creator included - the fact remains that these are two of the best rock albums of all time, and the music world is better off for them both existing.

TOTAL SCORE: Highway 6 - 6 Black
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