[ALBUM REVIEW] AC/DC | Back in Black

back in black cover

In the summer of 1993 I had bought my first copy of AC/DC’s Back in Black on cassette from Sam The Record Man in the New Sudbury Shopping Centre.  I was 16 years old, the album was already 13 years old, and I believe the asking price was $8.99.

It wasn’t my first AC/DC album (That honour belongs to Who Made Who), but it quickly became (and still is) my favourite album of all time.  Most fans I know have tired of Back in Black’s overplayed tracks and lean toward the deeper cuts on Powerage or perhaps Let There Be Rock as their favs, but fatigue never set in for me.  Even as I write this post I threw it on the turntable and did a little Angus dance when ‘What Do You Do For Money Honey’ came on.

I find it difficult to describe why I enjoy Back in Black so much, which why my mission to review all things AC/DC hit a wall.  I’ve started and stalled this review several times as I tried to attack it from different angles, but none felt right.  I even attempted to do a mock review where I’d make the case that the album never existed; a satirical take on the conspiracy that former lead singer Bon Scott wrote many of it tunes while Brian Johnson got the credit.  I couldn’t make it work though and I am somewhat tired of the topic after already covering it at length.

Perhaps I can speak about the criticism AC/DC receives for all of their tunes sounding alike.  A notion that has never been the case for me, and I can’t explain why.  I sort of do hear it on the straight up 4/4 rockers like ‘What do you Do For Money Honey‘ and ‘Given’ The Dog A Bone‘.  Both have a similar vibe with lyrics that would earn them an F- from the #MeToo movement.

But there is the slow metal tune, ‘Hells Bells‘.   The bright, pop of ‘You Shook Me All Night Long‘ and the blues shuffle of ‘Rock ‘N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution‘.  ‘Let Me Put My Love Into You Babe‘ has that Muddy Waters Chicago blues vibe.  I listen to ‘Shoot To Thrill‘ and ‘Have A Drink On Me‘ and hear two different songs.

And how about the number of times I purchased Back in Black?  First came the previously mentioned cassette, then CD, vinyl, remastered CD, the copy included in the Bonfire Boxset, and finally the 2003 remaster.  Five times in total…. feels like it was more.  Hmmm… maybe that Dual Disc version with the bonus DVD is something I should look into.  And perhaps a new vinyl “play copy” to preserve my OG copy would be a good idea… Besides, 7 is a lucky number of copies to have owned in one’s lifetime.

back in black band

Then there are the memories.  I remember introducing Sarah to AC/DC with Back in Black and was floored by how much she enjoyed it.  The time my buddy Frank and I had loaded up on CDs for a long car trip, but the player didn’t work and we were stuck listening to Back in Black on a loop for four hours as it was the only cassette I had in the car.

Or the time Mom barged in my room when I was a teenager to complain that the music was too loud.  She said, “You can’t understand a thing that guy is saying.  What is with you listening to him yell at you?  Didn’t I yell at you enough when you were a kid?”

“Ha, Ha.  Yeah Mom.  I like crap music”.  *rolls eyes*

If a time machine became a reality most people would use it for science or to kill Hitler or something.  But I’d head to 1980 and grab a front row seat for an AC/DC concert right after Back in Black came out.  Listen to how solid this band was in their prime:

Hot damn!  That look too!  Brian in the Harley Davidson shirt, Angus sporting the much preferred green school boy outfit with a brown SG, and all you can make out from the boys in the back is some long rocker hair peeking through the darkness.

I have a strong opinion for every AC/DC album as to why it does or doesn’t work.  But this one is just too close to the heart for me.  All I can hear is perfection.

As an AC/DC album: 5/5
Compared to everything else: In a league of its own

12 comments

  1. Isn’t it like in the top five best selling albums in the whole world ever or something. Back In Black is musically faultless. I agree lyrically it’s in some awkward places in this day and age. I wouldn’t be comfortable singing along to quite a few tracks as a responsible adult but I can’t deny the quality of the music. Great post. Nice insight into your writing task too. Some records are too big to be objective about.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It fluctuates depending on the criteria for the list. Some don’t count greatest hits, others only count American sales and not worldwide. But it is usually in the top 5 or 10 somewhere. This one is THE big one for me. Glad I was able to get through it alive!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. AC/DC played Thunder Bay a week before Back in black came out! Never ever to return here! hahaha….
    Couldn’t use the bell here as it would have collapsed the roof. Instead it was propped up on the side of the stage..

    Liked by 2 people

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