02
Jul
08

AC DC – Back In Black

Back in grade school I used to be a metal head.

Not to say that I had long hair or lots of bitchin concert shirts…I didn’t, but that’s all I listened to.

Def Leppard, Poison, ZZ Top, Pantera and Motley Crue…you get the picture.

Well all these memories came flooding back the other day when I discovered an old mixtape I made back then, appropriately titled “The Mofo Party Mix.”  I actually dumped all my old cassettes like three years ago because they were taking up space and I never listened to them…so that fact that I somehow missed this one was kind of a surprise, and a pleasant one at that.

Once again I could tear through the streets blasting ‘Slaughterhouse’ at full blast while pumping my fist and screaming.  I did notice that one band was represented more than the others on the tape…and that band was ACDC.

Back in 1980, ACDC was at a crossroads.  After spending several years touring and becoming one of the biggest rock bands in the world, their lead singer Bon Scott had died at the age of 33 after drinking too much and choking on his own vomit.  At least that has become the popular myth, the official cause of death was acute alcohol poisoning.  It was a sad way to go, but also an incredibly rock and roll way to go.  The group began discussing the idea of disbanding, but decided that Bon would have wanted the band to go on.

But how do you go on without your front man?

True, Angus Young is as much a front man as a lead guitarist can get, but how many bands have lost their lead, replaced him and had success at it?

Not many.

Luckily Angus remembered Bon telling him a story about one of the best singers he ever saw.  Brian Johnson of the band , Geordie.  Apparently, Bon caught the show where Brian was screaming at the top of his lungs in the middle of a song, then dropped to the floor writhing and screaming. Then to top it off, some guys came out and wheeled him off stage.

It turned out Brian had severe appendicitis that night and it nearly burst as he was rushed to the hospital, but that’s not the point.  The point was that Bon had felt this guy had the right stuff.  He was brought in to audition, and a few days later he had the gig.

Primary recording began in the Bahamas at Compass Point Studios, as the band and their new singer worked to complete the album they has started with Bon. I was watching the VH-1 Behind the Music special on the album, and Brian talked about how hard it was to really get into the writing and to take over for such an established singer…but he apparently had some sort of vision of Bon Scott and after that was off and running.

Whether that is pure bullshit or not remains to be seen.

But when completed, “Back In Black” would become the band’s greatest album and one of the top selling albums worldwide. With hits like ‘Hells Bells,’ ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’ and ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ the album comes as solid as it gets.  This is an angry album for when you’re feeling good.  This is black coffee on your cornflakes.  This is what they were thinking of when they invented the electric guitar.

And the black cover?  Meant as a sign of mourning for Scott’s death, it ended up becoming one of the most iconic album covers of all time.

How people get along without this album baffles me.

It’s as fresh today as the day it was released.  Cheap on Amazon too!

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