AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)

Not a band I usually listen to, but there’s been a lot of positive comment – including some from critics I pay a lot of attention to – about Back in Black, and iTunes makes speculative buying more affordable so why not?

First thing – the Young brothers have KILLER guitar tone. And they work so well together. The guitars pack a big punch on this record.

And the guitars are the main selling point. The lyrics aren’t that deep and Brian Johnson’s diction is hardly text book (he screams more than the sings) so you have to listen hard to find out what he’s on about. I like a good lyric but there’s more to life. In some cases the lyrics here verge on the misogynistic, but then you could say the same for a lot of old blues (and Led Zeppelin).

The band is tight and they do what they do very well (which is the same thing I say about Abba). There’s little in the way of frills here and John Lange’s production on this album seems to amount to having stayed out of the way. One of the problems with perfectionist production can be polishing the music until there’s no life left in it. Here there is polish, but life too and a great sound – like everything else here full and solid but without anything fancy (in the absence of any credits to the contrary I assume that Lange engineered as well).  This is a well focused record with the edge left on it.

So not a band I’d list if you asked me what sort of music I listened to, but I get it: The band are EFFECTIVE which is a different thing from being virtuosic but not a less worthwhile thing (it is possible to be virtuosic and redundant). Fans of guitar rock will find a lot to enjoy here with clever interlocking parts from the two Youngs and exciting solos underpinned by a powerful but no-nonsense rhythm section. A great rock ‘n roll racket.

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