Author: Bruce Jenkins  Date Posted:17 May 2024 


When Bon Scott stepped on stage with the recently formed AC/DC in September 1974, few would have predicted that the husky voiced larrikin would become one of the iconic frontmen of hard rock. Yet by 1979, with Highway To Hell having amply demonstrated that the Aussie band of immigrants were more than capable of rocking the entire world, Bon—strutting his stuff along side Angus and Malcolm Young—was enjoying the rock and roll lifestyle he had long dreamed of.

Sadly, it was not to last. Left in a parked car because he was too drunk to move, Bon died during a cold London night in February 19801.

Some bands might have staggered and fallen at this untimely body blow, but not Acca Dacca. The Young brothers did briefly ponder pulling the plug, but soon set about finding a replacement. Within six months they had not only recruited Brian Johnson but had recorded an album with the new singer. That album was Back In Black, a hard rock classic from stem to stern and the warship with which they toured—and conquered—the world.

The LP was #1 in Australia, the UK, France, Germany, and Canada. In the USA it got to #4, earning the dubious honour of being the highest selling album never to reach the top spot. That said, it managed to sell millions of copies along the way.

The first single was "You Shook Me All Night Long", a bellow-along-with-Brian single that packs sexual metaphors into every verse. She’s a motor car; it’s a factory shift. No, they are making a meal of it, or perhaps going ten rounds in the ring. Phew! Of course lewd lyrics, innuendo, unapologetically sexist attitudes and hip-thrusting swagger are core AC/DC values, so it should be no surprise that other songs on the LP that talk about lurve, baby. In fact, they pretty much all do. High romance ("Let Me Put My Love Into You"), nocturnal love (the aforementioned "You Shook Me All Night Long"), capitalist love ("What Do You Do For Money Honey"), and trigger happy love ("Shoot To Thrill)". There are a few paeans to drinking and loud music as well, so thank heavens for the wholesome values expressed via the love of a man for his family pet in "Given The Dog A Bone"2.

You won’t find AC/DC lyrics in a poetry syllabus, nor their music studied for its sophistication and innovation. The band conquered the world of heavy rock by working out what they were good at then repeating it over and over again. Loudly. In the case of Back In Black, many of the songs have become anthems, and with the re-issue of the entire AC/DC catalogue to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their formation (more-or-less), new armies of fans will learn to shout along. The riffs, the mischievous image, the relentlessly immature lyrics… the ingredients do not change. In fact, as you listen to Back In Black, it still sounds as sharp and rambunctious as it did back in 1980. This is due, in no small part, to the crisp production of Mutt Lange, who honed the larrikin AC/DC racket into something powerful, gleaming, and seemingly timeless.

Acca Dacca are cranking out their irresistible noise pollution and continuing to shake us all night long.


© Bruce Jenkins—May 2024

  1. Wikipedia "Bon Scott"; accessed 15 May 2024.
  2. List shamelessly stolen from my friend Joe, an AC/DC lifer. I think Angus would grin, don't you?

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