Top 100 Album Review: #73 – Back in Black, AC/DC (1980)

A Tasteful Hard Rock Album.

Tasteful in musical composition, not lyrics of course.


Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #73/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586.jpgcropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586.jpgcropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586.jpgcropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586.jpg

Anything that fits under the genre Hard Rock or Heavy Metal is rat poison to me: the crass lyrics screamed at the decibels of chainsaws just doesn’t do it for me. Actually, it makes me shut-down, and like a nuclear reactor that’s about to explode, I begin an emergency protocol to get the hell away from it as quick as possible.

Considering AC/DC hard rock might be a joke to some — I know if you look at the Rock n’ Roll  continuum, there is such screaming, hard rock out there that in comparison they can look like a Bach coverband.  For me, Back in Black is touching the outer limits of what can be inherently pleasing to me but transcends it by reigning in the “hard/heavy” aspect along with some very good songs.


Back in Black was recorded under sad circumstances. Bon Scottman, their lead man and singer, died of alcohol poisoning when the band was touring after their hit album Highway to Hell. The band held auditions and replaced him with Brian Johnson. The all black cover of the album is a tribute to their fallen friend.

The album was an instant hit. It’s gone on to sell 50 million copies and is one of the most sold albums of all-time.


1. Hells Bells 5:10
2. Shoot to Thrill 5:17
3. What Do You Do for Money Honey 3:33
4. Given the Dog a Bone 3:30
5. Let Me Put My Love into You 4:16
6. Back in Black 4:14
7. You Shook Me All Night Long 3:30
8. Have a Drink on Me 3:57
9. Shake a Leg 4:06
10. Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution 4:15

[BEST TRACK: Back In Black]

This song mingles imagery of the death of their lead singer Bon Scottman along with the band’s rebirth as they continue after his passing. An instantly noticeable guitar riff, it is the best track on the album.

Back in black
I hit the sack
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes, I’m let loose
From the noose
That’s kept me hanging about

[BEST TRACK RUNNER-UP: You Shook Me All Night Long]

How many ways can we talk about sex? Infinity plus one clearly.

She had the sightless eyes
Telling me no lies
Knockin’ me out with those American thighs

[BEST STATEMENT SONG: Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution ]

There was a time in culture where people had to defend their own musical existence. Imagine Cardi B feeling the need to make a song in defense of her music? Of course her music sucks, but the concentrated effort to ban music has dampened. This song harkens back to a time where people gave immense power to music and its ability to affect your views on the world. It still does that, but with so many access points the fight is over.

We’re just talkin’ about the future
Forget about the past
It’ll always be with us
It’s never gonna die, never gonna die


If more hard rock was like AC/DC, I might actually be a fan of the genre.

Other People’s Take: 

  • Jason Steele:  B for the music but a ding for the screeching so I’ll settle for a B-.”
  • Buried on Mars: “It wasn’t my first AC/DC album (That honour will forever belong to Who Made Who), but it quickly became (and still is) my favourite album of all time.”
  • Opinionated Music, Guitars, and Giveaways: “Back In Black is the personification of sex, drugs and rock and roll due to the combination of Brian Johnson’s intense lyrical voice layered with the pure adrenaline laced guitar riffs of Angus Young.”

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