ARTIST OF THE MONTH: AC/DC
July 1, 2020
With the mightiest metal masterpiece of them all, ‘Back In Black’, celebrating its 40th birthday this month, AC/DC are our artists of the month for July.
As the 1970s came to a close, AC/DC were poised to become one of the most popular rock and roll acts around. Their signature brand of no-bull, good-time rock and roll had already galvanized audiences in their native Australia and across Europe, and their sixth album, 1979’s ‘Highway To Hell’, was gaining traction in America.
Indeed, the album became the band’s first to crack the US Top 100 by going Top 20, while British fans propelled it into the Top 10.
Then tragedy struck. Bon Scott, the group’s charismatic frontman, died after a night of drinking. Though the group considered hanging it up, Scott’s family and friends urged them to press on. Working with ‘Highway To Hell’ producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, the group brought in Geordie singer Brian Johnson after his successful audition in London’s celebrated Vanilla Studios revealed that his bluesy howl complemented Scott’s style while building on the band’s foundational sound. Having run through a version of ‘Nutbush City Limits’, a very early trial of ‘Back In Black’ confirmed that magic was indeed in the air.
Over seven weeks at Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas — raucous sessions beset by everything from severe storms to a crab scuttling into the studio — AC/DC and Lange honed a set of 10 unforgettable rock tracks, from the opening one-two punch of ‘Hells Bells’ and ‘Shoot To Thrill’ to the instantly memorable riffs of ‘Back In Black’ and ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.
Aimed squarely below the neck, this is music that rolls just as hard as it rocks. With Angus Young leading the charge on lead guitar, the solid groove of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd was the band’s engine room that thrust the music forward. And over it was to new singer Brian Johnson, who ensured that ‘Back In Black’ was as much a celebration as it was a tribute to his fallen predecessor.
This was also evident in ‘Back In Black’s idiosyncratic and iconic artwork. With the band’s logo and album title embossed on an all-black cover, this was quite unlike anything that had been seen before. Consequently, it remains one of the most famous and recognizable album covers of all-time, spawning untold imitators.
Fans were thrilled by ‘Back In Black’, welcoming Johnson with open arms. No less an authority than Rolling Stone magazine hailed it as “the apex of heavy-metal art,” and the album topped the charts in Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Canada. It also became the group’s first of nine Top 10 albums in America, remaining a consistent seller with 413 weeks on the Billboard 200 (it still sits in the chart’s upper half as of June 2020).
And with nearly 30 million in certified sales around the world, it’s second only to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ as the best-selling album of all time.
Proof positive that, 40 years later, always bet on Black.
With a whole host of new playlists, channels and features approaching to celebrate the band’s fiftieth anniversary, our Artist of the Month for September is the mighty Earth, Wind & Fire.Read more
This footage of the mighty AC/DC detonating their 1990 hit to tens of thousands of delirious fans, lays a serious claim to being the most exciting live footage ever captured for posterity.Read more
With this year marking the 30th anniversary of the epoch-defining ‘Loaded’, our artist of the month for August are the evergreen party starters, Primal Scream.Read more
With the mightiest metal masterpiece of them all, ‘Back In Black’, celebrating its 40th birthday this month, AC/DC are our artists of the month for July.Read more
With a new deluxe edition of seminal second album ‘Gold Against The Soul’ on its way this month, our Artists of the Month for June are the Manic Street Preachers.Read more
Fifty five years on from his domination of the UK album chart with five albums in the top twenty, and with the Nobel Laureate once again releasing new music with ‘Murder Most Foul’ and ‘I Contain Multitudes’, our Artist of the Month for May is the one and only Bob Dylan.Read more
Epic careers are launched, coveted awards are won and charts are topped – it’s this week in rock…Read more
Landmark releases, fascinating trivia and chart topping hits – it’s This Week In Rock.Read more
Following our recent collaborations with the great one’s Estate, and with more on the way, we’re rather more than proud to announce that our Artist of the Month for February is Prince.Read more
Elvis! Sabbath! AC/DC! Elvis again! It’s this week in rock…Read more