Drop-Tuning.com​​
Heavy  metal  news  and  guitar  gear  reviews.

Retrospective Album Review: Back In Black 37 Years On
Posted by Drop-Tuning.com 5:38AM CST 10/10/17​

Back in Black is a storied disc. Period. To many, it was the album which decisively proved that AC/DC was here to stay, despite the passing of Bon Scott. Having sold over 40 million copies (around 1 copy per every 190+/- humans on earth), it's safe to say that AC/DC proved themselves timeless legends.

Now that the smoke has settled from the release of Back in Black, let's look back at this iconic album and dissect its legendary success!!
#1 - Hells Bells

First come the bells, then Angus, and finally the rest of the group. “Hells Bells” paints a sonic picture of heavy, determined rockers; there to make a stand. As an excellent choice for track one on the album, “Hells Bells” definitely sets the stage for the epic experience that awaits the listener. On this track, creepy notes being picked in an ominous pattern move straight into a driving power chord riff. This intro then gives way to the first taste of Brian Johnson that AC/DC fans had ever heard.
Featuring sinister lyrics and an awesome pentatonic-based guitar solo from Angus Young on his  Gibson SG  (available on zZounds.com), the leadoff track for the album has an irresistable chorus that loops the intro riff back in, but in a totally different light. The song ends with a second solo and finally Johnson screaming its title before a few last power chords, leaving the listening half scared, and half anxious for the rest of the disc. 
#2 - Shoot To Thrill

Some say that "Shoot To Thrill" is an anomaly among AC/DC songs. "Shoot To Thrill" features a very fast tempo for the band and an uncharacteristally complex level of composition and song structure. The lyrical theme of the song is one of crime, sin, violence, drugs, and guns. 

Possibly the farthest song on the album from the more ominous sounding instrumental work on "Hells Bells," Track 2 tells the listener that this album is not a one trick pony, but instead a truly wholistic effort.
#3 - What Do You Do For Money Honey

There is no AC/DC album without at least one song about questionable women. For Back in Black, this is that song. After a brief intro riff, the guitars begin a choppy, aggressive strumming pattern that is textbook Angus and Malcom Young. Brian Johnson then begins shredding high range vocals about the bad habits and unscrupulous tendencies of a working girl.

Harsh and gutteral in his delivery, Johnson describes an unashamed call girl, and what might be a negative experience with perhaps that same call girl. Angus comes in after the second chorus with what is likely the most intense and technical solo of the album, shredding arpeggios and deviating from the typical, bend-and-slide pentatonic style of other AC/DC solos. After an extended third chorus, this short-yet-potent song ends abruptly, leaving the listener pumped up and feeling fully confident in the bands return to glory.
#4 - Givin' The Dog A Bone

Despite minimal air time and often being described as 'filler,' “Givin’ The Dog a Bone” features a hypnotizing high tempo verse riff as well as an uncharacteristic use of call and answer vocals in the chorus and second verse.

While not one of the huge hits from the album, the listener has no problem jamming to this diamond in the rough. Of course there is no true AC/DC song without a blistering guitar solo. Additionally, this song is unique because instead of going into a third chorus after that solo, it goes into another verse which keeps the album fresh and the listener intrigued.
#5 - Let Me Put My Love Into You

Featuring some very juicy guitar work, this song is enjoyed more by musicians than the casual listener; being perhaps the most lackluster song on the album. Unlike many AC/DC songs, “Let Me Put My Love Into You” features a dirty prechorus and some excellent guitar timings.

Featuring extremely suggestive lyrics, Johnson sings this tune in a more guttural voice compared to the album’s other works. Should you listen far enough into the song, you’ll find the guitar solo is super bluesy and the song is perhaps the best track on the album from a guitar player’s standpoint.
#6 - Back In Black

“Back in Black” is the title track of the album and essentially the cleanup hitter. Any listeners not already totally sold on this epic album, are once they hear this song. “Back in Black” starts with alternating high-hat hits and soon drops into the iconic, driving verse riff that is inexplicably unlike any other rock song of its time. A tribute to late singer Bon Scott, Johnson’s vocals also describe the band’s unprecedented return to greatness after the passing of Bon Scott only a few months earlier. Below is the official Vevo video.
Chock-full of juicy riffs, a sing along chorus, guitar solo, instrumental section, and finally another guitar solo, Back In Black is an AC/DC fan's dream. Angus Young shreds driving riffs with total finesse for the entire duration of the song. Not only was this a great choice for the title track, but its insane success has proven it a timeless classic that is perhaps more legendary than even the band thought it would be.
#7 - You Shook Me All Night Long

Perhaps the most mutually acceptable and socially fitting of every song on the album, "You Shook Me All Night Long" fits in perfect with any crowd. A guitar intro through Young's 100 Watt Marshall Tube Head  (available on SamAsh.com) eventually gives way to a verse riff that most guitar players have  to learn as soon as they hear it.

Argueably the most 'poppy' song on the disk, the first chorus drops into the second verse as Johnson describes a woman that is seemingly too much to handle. After the second chorus, Young lays down a super sassy solo that, again, must be learned on guitar as soon as it's heard. With one of the most iconic Angus solos, the lead guitar work for "You Shook Me All Night Long" has stood the test of time and is still one of the most Googled guitar tabs in the entire rock world.
#8 - Have A Drink On Me

It's late in the album, but the fun is not over. Much like that same point in the day, it's time to switch to a more alcohol heavy theme. “Have A Drink On Me” starts with a sweet guitar riff that evolves into a full band riff. On this track, Johnson comes in just as nasty as the whiskey he is singing about; belting lyrics about getting, being, and staying drunk.

Featured in tons of movie montages and drinking scenes, Track 8 is infectiously catchy. Although not quite as well-known as some of the band’s bigger hits, this gem is a favorite of AC/DC purists. With a very restrained verse riff, “Have A Drink On Me” makes a guy feel like a total badass. Track 8 is a favorite of weekend drinkers, and naturally one of the most frequently played AC/DC songs on jukeboxes. This track says that the album, like the night, is still very, very Young (pun intended).
#9 - Shake A Leg
Perhaps the odd man out, “Shake A Leg” is the only ‘filler-ish’ song on the album. This is partially because it doesn't start with an addictive riff and is featured toward the tail-end of the album. After the track starts with Johnson’s bluesy vocal wailings of the song title, Angus follows, bursting into a very high energy, enthusiastic verse riff.

Track 9 features some of the highest range singing on the entire album. Not often played live, this is the track that has had the hardest run at standing the test of time. With that being said, had it appeared on any other rock album, it would have been an absolutely badass lead single or even title track. It’s just had a hard time standing up to the rest of this iconic record. Although its high tempo and high energy guitar solo has made it a back-pocket favorite of many fans, the average rock and roll fan may have never even heard of this track.
#10 - Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution"

An incendiary ode to rock n' roll itself, Track 10 starts with a very bluesy riff reminiscent of much earlier AC/DC. Johnson then comes in and issues a call for all rockers to join him for some good old fashioned headbanging. The riff ramps up as the entire band joins, setting the stage for what will be an epic closer.

The final track on the album, “Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution,” features a below average tempo and extremely substantive lyrics. This track doesn't get the play time it deserves, despite being one of the most classic and recognizable AC/DC songs of all time.

Moral of the story: "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." The slower tempo and droning beat of Track 10 may have been intentional knowing that the listener, hungry for shreddage, will almost certainly restart the album and listen to the entire disc again. In summation, this is an excellent closing track, and as the 3rd longest song on the album, is a very complete and wholistic AC/DC composition.

Thank you for reading, additionally, if you have time, check out the  guitars , amps , and gear for sale from our affiliate retailers. This is how we are able to stay profitable and make content. Plus it saves you money over guitar store prices! We definitely appreciate it. 

See other news stories here.​​