It’s hard to believe that we have enjoyed the innovation that is Back In Black for 30 years. AC/DC had just started to heal from the major tragedy they faced in the loss of lead singer Bon Scott when they decided to press on. The band went into the studio with an established singer in his own right, one they were still trying to learn and understand. How AC/DC was able to put together a masterpiece like Back In Black is beyond me. Congratulations to the lads, they pulled off a beauty!
Back In Black is one of those rare albums that actually earns the title of a perfect album. Obviously opinions vary, but to me, a perfect album is one where you want to hear the next song as badly as you want to replay the last one. The songs never get old and no matter how many times you hear them, you will listen to the song when it’s on. That’s what makes a perfect album. Back In Black meets that criteria, so to me, it’s perfect.
From the opening chime of Hell’s Bells to the closing “yes!” of Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution, Back In Black is a classic. The songs also stand the test of time, being as relevant today as they were in 1980 when this album was released. The album is timeless and it’s hard to find a hard rock fan who doesn’t own at least one copy of this record in some format.
Hells Bells opens the album with the chiming of the bell that rings out thirteen times. Angus Young’s guitar strums over the chiming bell and really starts to heat things up. By the time the drums kick in, it’s obvious that something special is happening. Brian Johnson then announces his vocals and the listener is stopped in his/her tracks. What is this unique, powerful voice? What is this wondrous music?
Every song on Back In Black is a hit. If AC/DC were to ever decide to perform one album in its entirety, this would have to be the one. Shoot To Thrill shows off the genius of Angus on guitar. What You Do For Money Honey, exemplifies Brian Johnson’s vocal talent. Every song is layered with complex rhythms made to appear simple. Ever song is a massive attack to the eardrums, a pleasure to the senses. Every song makes a statement.
You Shook Me All Night Long is obviously the most well known song on Back In Black, and it may be the best song on the album, but that’s debatable. Every song on this record contains the potential to be the best. When the band went into the studio to record this masterpiece, something special happened. They bonded together over their loss and they showed the world that they were still relevant and more powerful than ever.
It’s been cited that 22 million copies of Back In Black have been sold in the US, and that 49 million copies have been sold worldwide. However impressive, those numbers alone are not what makes Back In Black perfect. It’s the feeling in the music. It’s the sweat the band put down on vinyl. It’s producer “Mutt” Lange’s ability to push the gang to their limits and capture the incredible music. It’s all of those things and more – it’s the magic that was made in the studio.
For 30 years we have enjoyed Back In Black for the amazing piece of work that it is. I am certain that we will enjoy it for 30 more (and then some). New generations of fans will be rocking out to Back In Black long after the band (and us) are in our graves. That’s an album that stands the test of time. That’s a perfect record. That is Back In Black.