Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

AC/DC from Worst to First

I haven't done a music post in a while. My last music post might very well have been my Beatles Worst to First list. Well, I've decided that I need to do another cool music post. I just couldn't decide what to write about in terms of music for a while. I got tons of ideas and suggestions (and lord knows I still need to finish my Big Four Worst to First list), but I just haven't been in a hurry to get to any of them. I really want to do an Alice Cooper list as well as a Motorhead (and I will eventually), but there's one band that I need to do first. That band is AC/DC.

AC/DC isn't my favorite band ever (that's Black Sabbath), but they are up in my top ten. As far as the AC/DC singers are concerned I like both the Brian Johnson and Bon Scott eras, but for me Brian Johnson is the singer for AC/DC (because if Bon was then that'd be really interesting seeing as how he's kinda dead) and I think he can pull off singing all of the Bon stuff just fine. Had Bon not passed away way back in 1980 then I think it would be fascinating to see how AC/DC would be viewed today and what they would be up to.

As it is, I don't think any AC/DC fan legitimately believes that AC/DC made a mistake by carrying on with a different singer. I mean, I kinda feel sorry for the guy that goes, "I can't believe that they banded together and released one of the greatest albums in rock history after enduring such tragedy. Bon deserved better." Although I sometimes wonder what would have happened if AC/DC had gone the Black Sabbath route and picked up Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, or Ronnie Dio. I mean, wouldn't that just be weird?

14. Stiff Upper Lip - I like to call this the "Meh" album. That's not because I dislike it because I really don't dislike any AC/DC album. In fact, I still have the Stiff Upper Lip binder I had through most of high school (bear in mind that I didn't start high school until five years after this album's release). I do think this album is a little bit dry, though. There are a few decent rockers on here like Safe in New York City and the title track, but overall it doesn't grab me that much. I have to be in a certain mood to listen to all of Stiff Upper Lip. One of those, "Eh, I've heard all of the popular stuff a few too many times so what else is there to listen to?" kind of moods.

Stiff Upper Lip 3:34
Meltdown 3:41
House of Jazz 3:56
Hold Me Back 3:59
Safe in New York City 3:59
Can't Stand Still 3:41
Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll 4:02
Satellite Blues 3:47
Damned 3:52
Come and Get It 4:02
All Screwed Up 4:36
Give It Up 3:54

Tour Edition Bonus Disc 
Cyberspace (Non LP Track) 2:59
Back in Black (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996) 3:41
Hard as a Rock (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996) 4:51
Ballbreaker (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996) 4:41
Whole Lotta Rosie (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996) 5:27
Let There Be Rock (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996) 11:53
Stiff Upper Lip (Music video) 3:50
Safe in New York City (Music video) 4:01
Satellite Blues (Music video) 3:55

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Brian Johnson

13. Flick of the Switch - Coming off three consecutive massively successful albums, you gotta figure that there'd be an inevitable letdown on the horizon. I'm not sure if you'd call Flick of the Switch a letdown, but it does lack the big hit(s) that made Highway to Hell, Back in Black, and For Those About to Rock We Salute You household names. However, the album is a consistent rocker and not too much of a step back from their previous material.

Rising Power 3:43
This House Is on Fire 3:23
Flick of the Switch 3:13
Nervous Shakedown 4:27
Landslide 3:57
Guns for Hire 3:24
Deep in the Hole 3:19
Bedlam in Belgium 3:52
Badlands 3:38
Brain Shake 4:00

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Brian Johnson

12. Fly on the Wall - Despite Brian Johnson's barely audible vocals at times, I really like the songs on this album. The production could have been a lot better, but there are some good songs to be found. The most well known are Sink the Pink and Shake Your Foundations, but one song I like in particular is the title track. AC/DC have always been rather good at writing title tracks.

Fly on the Wall 3:44
Shake Your Foundations 4:10
First Blood 3:46
Danger 4:22
Sink the Pink 4:15
Playing With Girls 3:44
Stand Up 3:53
Hell or High Water 4:32
Back in Business 4:24
Send for the Man 3:36

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Simon Wright, Brian Johnson

11. Blow Up Your Video - A few AC/DC fans I know consider this to be AC/DC's worst album ever. I'm not quite sure if that is the general consensus or not because, as I said, AC/DC isn't really my favorite band. I can't really debate AC/DC like I could Black Sabbath or even Ozzy Osbourne or Deep Purple. However, I have ears and my ears tell me that Blow Up Your Video is a decent album with two really, really good songs (Heatseeker and That's the Way I Wanna Rock n' Roll). One thing that I think would have boosted this album's popularity (in general) would have been the inclusion of the song Who Made Who. Something else I think would have made a difference would have been a different name for the album. How about Blow Up Your Blu-ray? Or maybe Blow Up Your Netflix? Oh, that's right, those didn't exist back then.

Heatseeker 3:50
That's the Way I Wanna Rock 'n' Roll 3:45
Meanstreak 4:08
Go Zone 4:26
Kissin' Dynamite 3:58
Nick of Time 4:16
Some Sin for Nuthin' 4:11
Ruff Stuff 4:28
Two's Up 5:19
This Means War 4:21

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Simon Wright, Brian Johnson

10. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - The States didn't get a hold of this album until 1981. Talk about getting there late to the party. And for some odd reason the order of the tracks on the album as well as the appearance of certain tracks themselves were mangled with. I really hate that. Rock in Peace didn't see international release until Backtracks. That's some serious what the fuck right there. At the very least Problem Child could have been taken off of the States version because everyone had heard it on Let There Be Rock by 1981. And ironically enough Problem Child wasn't originally released on Let There Be Rock anyway since the song had originally appeared on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Confused yet? So this is a good album, but apparently it is sybil. Or maybe the international version is just plain butchered. Yeah, let's go with that last option.

International cover (This and Black Sabbath's Technical Ecstasy were not Hypgnosis strongest album covers)
Australian cover

Crappy International release:
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 3:52
Love at First Feel 3:12
Big Balls 2:38
Rocker 2:50
Problem Child 5:46
There's Gonna Be Some Rockin' 3:18
Ain't No Fun (Waiting 'Round to Be a Millionaire) 6:54
Ride On 5:53
Squealer 5:10

Australian release: 
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 4:13
Ain't No Fun (Waiting 'Round to Be a Millionaire) 7:31
There's Gonna Be Some Rockin' 3:17
Problem Child 5:46
Squealer 5:18
Big Balls 2:40
R.I.P. (Rock in Peace) 3:36
Ride On 5:53
Jailbreak 4:41

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Mark Evans, Phil Rudd, Bon Scott

09. Powerage - If there is a "dark horse" of the Bon Scott era then I think you could make a case for that to be Powerage. While it does feature the concert favorite Sin City it doesn't really have that "radio classic" on it. However, it does feature a number of classic numbers like Rock n' Roll Damnation, Riff Raff, and Down Payment Blues

Rock 'n' Roll Damnation 3:37
Down Payment Blues 6:03
Gimme a Bullet 3:21
Riff Raff 5:11
Sin City 4:45
What's Next to the Moon 3:31
Gone Shootin' 5:05
Up to My Neck in You 4:13
Kicked in the Teeth 3:53

European version:
Rock 'n' Roll Damnation 3:06
Gimme a Bullet 3:20
Down Payment Blues 5:40
Gone Shootin' 5:22
Riff Raff 5:14
Sin City 4:45
Up to My Neck in You 4:12
What's Next to the Moon 3:42
Cold Hearted Man 3:32
Kicked in the Teeth 3:58

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Bon Scott.

08. For Those About to Rock We Salute You - It's odd that Back in Black, one of the biggest selling albums of all time, couldn't hit number one. I mean, there are times during the second half of this album that just doesn't seem to carry the momentum of the first half. Perhaps the arena rock production brought on by Mutt Lange that made them so popular was finally wearing thin or maybe it's just something else like songwriting not quite being as up to snuff. From an objective standpoint this album is a typical AC/DC album and not much different than any other AC/DC album, but from the standpoint of my ears I just don't view this album as being in the same league as Back in Black or Highway to Hell or even The Razors Edge. I suppose it was just a part of AC/DC fervor at the time that boosted this album to number one and I certainly can't blame anyone for that, but I wonder just how many people view this album as a letdown. 

For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) 5:44
Put the Finger on You 3:25
Let's Get It Up 3:54
Inject the Venom 3:30 
Snowballed 3:23 
Evil Walks 4:23
C.O.D. 3:19
Breaking the Rules 4:23
Night of the Long Knives 3:25
Spellbound 4:30

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Brian Johnson

07. Let There Be Rock - There is a reason as to why this album got rearranged for its appearance in the States as well as the rest of the world. This reason is very important because it concerns crabs. Yeah, that's right, I said "crabs." Atlantic Records got cold feet when it came to the song Crabsody in Blue and replaced it with Problem Child because of the racy subject matter. What kind of throws me off with this racy subject matter talk is that the song Go Down was considered perfectly legit. I don't get it. Song-changing bullshit aside, I do like this album. Although I don't really consider it a classic and title song does sort of leave me wanting. I know Let There Be Rock is popular concert piece, but I'm already spoiled enough by the studio version and don't really need the typical fifteen minute version. But, fuck, it's AC/DC so I can't complain that much and listening to Angus play a five minute guitar solo isn't the worst thing that can happen.

International cover
Australian cover
Australia (and original international vinyl):
Go Down (5:20 for vinyl) 5:33 
Dog Eat Dog 3:35 
Let There Be Rock 6:07 
Bad Boy Boogie 4:28 
Overdose 6:09 
Crabsody in Blue 4:45 
Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be 4:15 
Whole Lotta Rosie 5:22 

Go Down (5:18 for vinyl) 5:31 
Dog Eat Dog 3:34 
Let There Be Rock 6:06 
Bad Boy Boogie 4:27 
Problem Child 5:24 
Overdose 6:09 
Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (4:21 for vinyl) 4:14 
Whole Lotta Rosie 5:24 

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Mark Evans, Phil Rudd, Bon Scott

06. The Razors Edge - Containing one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time, The Razors Edge is arguably one of AC/DC's strongest albums to date. Well, maybe you will argue, but I will go ahead and say that it is one of their best. Aside from being released only one day before my birth there are a lot of other things that are good about this album. We all know the songs: Thunderstruck, Moneytalks, Are You Ready, Fire Your Guns, and the killer title track. This album is definitely top-heavy with the hits. The further into the album you go the more the quality drops off just a little bit, but If You Dare and Shot of Love are definitely great rock jams. The rest, while not trying to sound insulting about it, are more or less standard AC/DC fare. That's not a bad thing, though. Remember: There's no such thing as a bad AC/DC song. 

Thunderstruck 4:52
Fire Your Guns 2:53
Moneytalks 3:48
The Razors Edge 4:22
Mistress for Christmas 3:59
Rock Your Heart Out 4:06
Are You Ready 4:10
Got You by the Balls 4:30
Shot of Love 3:56
Let's Make It 3:32
Goodbye & Good Riddance to Bad Luck 3:13
If You Dare 3:08

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Chris Slade, Brian Johnson

05. Ballbreaker - I don't know if I'm odd for ranking this album up so high (well, yeah, I'm odd, but that doesn't really mean I'm odd for solely this reason) or if this album is really, really good and I'm of the few who noticed. This Rick Rubin-produced modern (read: younger than I am) day masterpiece is AC/DC at possibly their angriest and darkest. The Furor, Burnin' Alive, and Hail Caesar are some of AC/DC's few not-so-lighthearted rock tracks. The latter is another example of Angus Young's fascination with ancient Greece, but The Furor and Burnin' Alive are a little bit more vague in terms of their meaning. Certainly Burnin' Alive is the closest that AC/DC have ever been to entering the "political realm." Lyrical meanings aside, Ballbreaker is a perfectly logical and stripped down followup to The Razors Edge. The sound is leaner and bluesier than on The Razors Edge, but the songwriting is tighter and the album is more consistent. There's no radio hit quite like Thunderstruck, but when the album is solid like this (as well as boasting a song called Cover You in Oil) there doesn't need to be one.

Hard as a Rock 4:31
Cover You in Oil 4:32
The Furor 4:10
Boogie Man 4:07
The Honey Roll 5:34
Burnin' Alive 5:05
Hail Caesar 5:14
Love Bomb 3:14
Caught With Your Pants Down 4:14
Whiskey on the Rocks 4:35
Ballbreaker 4:31

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Brian Johnson

04. Black Ice - 2008. It doesn't seem fair that their last album was six years ago. It sure as hell doesn't feel like that long ago, either. It seems even more mind-boggling when you consider that it was an eight year gap between Stiff Upper Lip and Black Ice. Lord only knows how long it will be until AC/DC releases their next album. Despite the insane gap of years between albums I think we can at least be grateful that this album was pretty kickass. I think this contains some of AC/DC's best work and I hope my ranking reflects that. Rock 'n' Roll Train, Big Jack, War Machine, and the insanely good Anything Goes belong in the pantheon of all-time AC/DC great songs. Other songs that I really dig in particular are Decibel, Stormy May Day (featuring Angus's only foray into slide guitar work), and Spoilin' for a Fight

Rock 'n' Roll Train 4:21
Skies on Fire 3:34
Big Jack 3:57
Anything Goes 3:22
War Machine 3:09
Smash 'n' Grab 4:06
Spoilin' for a Fight 3:17
Wheels 3:28
Decibel 3:34
Stormy May Day 3:10
She Likes Rock 'n' Roll 3:53
Money Made 4:15
Rock 'n' Roll Dream 4:41
Rocking All the Way 3:22
Black Ice 3:25

Lineup; Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Brian Johnson

03. High Voltage - It's essentially a compilation of AC/DC first two Australian album High Voltage and T.N.T., but it makes for a fitting international debut. It could arguably be one of the best debut albums ever if not for the fact that it wasn't really a debut album at all. 

International cover
European cover (and you thought Black Sabbath album covers were bad)
It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) 5:01
Rock 'n' Roll Singer 5:04
The Jack 5:52
Live Wire 5:50
T.N.T. 3:34
Can I Sit Next to You Girl 4:12
Little Lover 5:37
She's Got Balls 4:51
High Voltage 4:03

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Mark Evans, Phil Rudd, Bon Scott

02. Back in Black - You know the songs. You know the circumstances. Perhaps the only question as to why this album is only number two is something that needs to be explained. I've listened to this album lots of times and do maintain that it is one of the greatest rocks albums of all time, but there is one released by this very same band that is slightly better. I don't really have a better reason than that. 

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

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Brian Johnson

01. Highway to Hell - Even if you skip over the very well-known title track and listen to the rest of the album I think you'll still be impressed by just how damn good this album is. The title track just serves as the icing on the cake. Walk All Over You, Touch Too Much, Girls Got Rhythm, Shot Down in Flames, If You Want Blood (You've Got It)... There isn't a weak point on this album. Perhaps I am just batty for saying this is AC/DC's best album, but I do remember an episode of That Metal Show where Highway to Hell and Back in Black were pitted against each other and Highway to Hell won no-contest. So I know I'm not alone. 

International cover
Australian cover
Highway to Hell 3:29
Girls Got Rhythm 3:24
Walk All Over You 5:11
Touch Too Much 4:28
Beating Around the Bush 3:57
Shot Down in Flames 3:23
Get It Hot 2:35
If You Want Blood (You've Got It) 4:38
Love Hungry Man 4:18
Night Prowler 6:18

Lineup: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Bon Scott


  1. "As it is, I don't think any AC/DC fan legitimately believes that AC/DC made a mistake by carrying on with a different singer. "

    I actually did feel like that for a couple of months in 1980 but I got over it. XD

    My list is a little different (sucks there have only been 2 albums since 1995)

    1. Back In Black
    2. Highway To Hell
    3. Let There Be Rock (originally owned this one on 8-track tape - XD)
    4. High Voltage
    5. Powerage
    6. For Those About to Rock
    7. Ballbreaker
    8. Razor's Edge
    9. Dirty Deeds
    10. Black Ice
    11. Flick Of The Switch
    12. Fly On The Wall
    13. Stiff Upper Lip
    14. Blow Up Your Video

  2. One thing I'm grateful to AC/DC for is that they have resisted the temptation to do a gravely voiced power ballad. You know it would have went number one all over the world and would have made a gazillion dollars. Bon Scott wrote, "She's Got Balls" for his wife and I think that's as sentimental as they ever got XD.

  3. I know they did a love song with Bon called, aptly enough, Love Song. That's an odd listen. Kinda like listening to the pre-KISS band Wicked Lester. Just odd. That's probably the closest AC/DC ever got to an 80s style ballad although they obviously did that song in the 70s. But thank God they never attempted something like that with Brian Johnson. At least Bon could pull off singing clean.

  4. I have a boot (somewhere) of an out of print album from Bon Scott's band pre-AC/DC. I think the band is called Fraternity. It's not very good (as I recall - I think I only listened to it once) but it's interesting to hear Bon and Bon sounds nothing like he does in AC/DC.

    Speaking of that song "Love Song." I have not heard it but I noticed that AC/DC has a cd out that collects those odd tracks that are not on albums or were left off the US releases. I think I'm going to order that. It has 2 cds and a dvd.

    Don't you think it's odd that AC/DC has also resisted doing a "Best of" album. "Who Made Who" is a bit of a recompilation but they really don't have a true "Greatest Hits" album. They have some dvd stuff but have never really done a stand alone cd.

  5. I received Backtracks yesterday and I’ve only listened to a little of it so far but I have a comment to make about the stinginess of AC/DC compilations. I love having these tracks but AC/DC could have made this a little more complete. There is a studio rarities disc that compiles the stray tracks from the Australian releases but not quite all of them. They left off “School Days” and the Jailbreak tracks. Now, you can buy Jailbreak easy enough so that’s not a big deal but “School Days” is much more difficult. I happen to have “School Days” on an overpriced box set called “Bonfire” so I’m covered but there was room on this cd for “School Days” so they really should have included it.
    Bonfire is another one that they were a bit stingy with. I’m not complaining about the music, that is great but when Bonfire was released in the 90s, it was a 5 disc box set that was priced at $80.00. It’s billed as a tribute to Bon Scott but one of the 5 discs was the “Back In Black” album which everyone who bought this set already had. Two of the discs were a soundtrack recording of the never released “Let There Be Rock” movie. The two discs had a running time of just over 80 minutes so with a little editing of the introduction; this could have fit on one disc. There is a disc of rarities called “Volts” (with School Days) and it has a running time of about 40 minutes so there was plenty of room for a few more tracks. So Bonfire really had 3 discs worth of material that we wanted but we had to pay for 5.

    Just a small complaint but AC/DC could make these compilations a little more complete.

    1. I think I have the Australian versions on TNT and High Voltage on iTunes on another computer. I think School Days is on one of those. TNT, I believe. Of course, those downloads aren't exactly street legal.

      And speaking of best of compilations, I don't think Metallica has a greatest hits album, either. They have at least two live compilations, a cover compilation, but not a greatest hits album. Odd, considering all of the other big four do. And yet Metallica are the biggest sellouts, lol.

  6. I received that AC/DC CD (say that five times fast), by the way. Really good stuff. I just wish all those people talking could have been cut out.:)

  7. Now that I have backtracks and Volts, I burned myself the Australian versions of the early cds (just because I'm weird that way). The Australian version of Dirty Deeds is so much better than the international release. The songs that were deleted are awesome but also the sequencing of the Australian version is perfect. It's hard to understand why American record companies couldn't leave foreign releases alone. The first three Elvis Costello albums have some great songs that were taken off because the record company thought they were "too English." And I really don;t understand the re-sequencing. Do you think the record company hired a guy just to fuck up the international albums? XD

    "What do you do for a living?"
    "Oh, I fuck up international records."