Back In Black - 1980
After the death of band member Bon Scott, the australian hard rock band AC/DC had their future in much doubt. But in an unprecedented move, the band employed Brian Johnson from Geordie and then proceeded to make undoubtably the best album of their career. These guys have always been riff based with great beats and choruses, and they take those elements to another level here, while Johnson gave the band a unique new screecher who if anything had an even more distinctive voice than Bon. Johnson fit right in with the band, who, in a fittingly tasteless toast to their fallen friend, lovingly wrote “Have A Drink On Me,” which brought them criticism but which Bon almost certainly would’ve loved had he lived. Besides, since when did AC/DC ever try to please anyone but themselves and their fans?
Their blues-based thunder, endearing bravado, and knowing humor come across more powerfully than ever on this landmark release. In addition, Mutt Lange’s production is phenomenal and every song on the album is distinguishable from the next, quite a feat for an AC/DC album. “Back In Black,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and “Hells Bells,” are all certified hard rock classics, but amazingly, lesser known album tracks such as “Shoot To Thrill,” “What Do You Do For Money Honey,” “Rock n’ Roll ‘Aint Noise Pollution,” and “Let Me Put My Love Into You” are also outrageously good. Sure, "Shake A Leg" recycles the riff from "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" far too closely, and "Given The Dog A Bone" is cartoonishly unsubtle even for them, but these are minor quibbles about what is definitely a major hard rock album. Simply put, at this point in time AC/DC (not The Clash and certainly not The Rolling Stones) was the best band in the world.
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