AC/DC-Back in black
AC/DC wasted very little time in replacing the late Bon Scott and releasing a new album. Oftentimes considered one of if not their best album. Undoubtedly the album that broke them into being huge in commercial terms particularly in North America. To me, the music here is fairly similar to the previous album "Highway to hell". I think that by this point the music was similar in pace to their outputs from the 1970's but perhaps a little less raw and they had a little more polish here and there. Yet a lot of that approach may have started with "Highway to hell" and just continued on this one. A large part of the success is due to the fact that around 1980 hard rock and metal was rising back into focus after several years of decline and competing with other musical genres. So in some ways this album may have really hit at the right time and right place. The biggest change is obviously the vocals and Brian Johnson is quite a bit different from Bon Scott. Neither singer had a great range, but both fit in with the music of AC/DC. However, I love Scott's vocals and found Johnson's approach to be a bit screechy and hard to take at times. There are times where Johnson's vocals work such as "Givin the dog a bone", the great "Rock and roll ain't noise pollution" and the good, but hugely overplayed "You shook me all night long". Yet other songs like the title track and "What do you do for money, honey" have vocals that are hard to take. Since Johnson's vocals are not quite as easy to take as Scott's, this perhaps put more pressure on the rest of the band to step up. They do step it up enough as I think the sound here is extremely tight. The band was fairly confident in what they were doing by this stage of the game. Above all else they control the pace and don't rush anything. They do have an overall style that prevails in the album, but they mix up the tempo perhaps more than in some of their previous efforts. Easily their best album with Brian Johnson and definitely a top five out of the band's large catalog. Still I have to say that it's a little overrated because I can't see it as being the band's best album. Best known album perhaps, but I think that has quite a bit to do with the timing issue I mentioned earlier. Still it's held up reasonably well and I listen to it fairly often even today.
***Powerage review coming up Friday as AC/DC week draws to a close.