Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome back to another addition of Top Album Lists here at Philly Rock Radio.
Thanks for joining us as we have taken a deep dive into some of the most iconic metal band's catalogs in history. Today that journey continues as we take a look at one of the most popular metal band's to ever grace the stage.
That band is of course AC/DC. And just like the previous bands, these guys do not need any introduction.
Their history and legacy speaks for itself. Formed in 1973 by the Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, AC/DC quickly forged a path of elite musicianship in their rise to the top of Mount Rushmore.
The results tell the true story...over 200 million records sold world wide; including 71.5 million albums in the United States alone. The band was named the seventh greatest metal band of all-time by Rolling Stone Magazine. VH1 ranked them at #4 on their "100 Greatest Hard Rock Artists of All-Time." Some experts have even named them the greatest rock and roll band ever. You get the point...this band is an iconic brand if we ever did see one.
Needless to say, when ranking the catalog for a band of this magnitude, the task will be incredibly difficult. However; we are confident that our expert knowledge and ears for talent will help solidify the best of the best.
One fun part about these projects is that we get to go back In time and replay the albums in their entirety. This process has been extremely rewarding and enlightening. So For those about to rock we salute you. Now let's go back in black on this highway to hell...
10. Ballbreaker (1995)
An extremely underrated album and definitely one of my personal all-time favorites. In fact, there is not one bad track on the record. One popular knock on AC/DC is that many of their tracks sound exactly the same. Well I would say that this particular release definitely spit back in the critics faces. The record was more stylistically advanced and definitely had much more variety. Overall a solid album from start to finish. The album charted at # 4 on the US Billboard Top 200 and shares a 2x platinum in sales. Key tracks include "Hard as a Rock", "Burnin' Alive", and "Ballbreaker". If you want a sleeper though check out "Hail Caesar"...wow. I think the x-factor was Rick Rubin as he initiated an absolute killer production. Obviously not the best AC/DC album ever but definitely top ten worthy!
9. Black Ice (2008)
The eight year hiatus between albums was the longest tenure in AC/DC's history. The fifteenth studio album just happened to be the bands' longest running time as well. This record truly tried to recapture the classical sound that AC/DC fans had grown to love and the band did not disappoint. "Black Ice" was a huge success as far as sales and it landed at #1 atop the billboard charts. This was the kind of comeback that fans had all been starving for. Great album with lots of energy. Unfortunately, this was also the last time you would see the "Back in Black" era gang together as one. Nonetheless, this was a solid effort that put AC/DC back on top of the musical mountain. Did not think they would ever out due 'Ballbreaker' but this one absolutely ate the cake. A must own for any of the classic era fans.
8. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
What an awesome name for an album title. Evil, raunchy and rowdy. Album title and cover aside, this is a tremendous rock and roll record. In fact, many say that this is arguably Bon Scott's best effort with AC/DC. The title track is a live show staple and has stood the test of time as an absolute stalwart at all of the band's concerts. Dirty Deeds as its known for short exemplifies the bands attitude and even more so the persona of lead singer Bon Scott. The honesty and suggestive narrative is what separates the album from mainstream melancholy. Tracks like "Big Balls", "Squealer", and "Problem Child" represent the epicenter of a band riding that bad boy mentality to pay dirt. This masterpiece is raw and relentless. Definitely one of the best albums in the catalog.
7. High Voltage (1976)
The birthplace for AC/DC in the United States. In reality, its the international version of T.N.T. which was only released in Australia. Despite this confusion, there is no doubt that this album put the band on the map for the long haul. An instant classic full of high energy tracks that is the calling card for the group. Edgy and raw rock and roll in its truest form. Although the album did not chart particularly well, it did receive critical acclaim for being original and to the point. This is what you call a plug and play as there is not one dud to be found. Many of these tracks can be found on almost any AC/DC concert set list. The staying power of this material makes it one of the most influential of the entire catalog. T.N.T its dynamite, take cover from the high voltage folks or you may get the jack. Top notch album.
6. For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981)
As the successor to 'Back in Black' this album was pretty much set up to fail before it even began. In fact, over the years the album has endured its fair share of criticism from countless avenues. Despite the negative perception though, the album was a big hit as it scored a #1 rating on the Billboard, a feat that is sometimes forgotten. One could say that this record lives mainly off of the gargantuan hit title track and that is the easy way out. However; truth be told there are many solid songs on the album in spite of the lack of name recognition. I think its safe to say that had this record been released before its predecessor, its popularity would have been off the charts. Brian Johnson's pipes are even more glorious on this one if that can even be possible. 4 Million record sales later, it still remains a classic.
5. The Razors Edge (1990)
This was AC/DC's rebirth 2.0. Just like 'Back in Black' had done ten years earlier in revitalizing the band's career, this album was the spark that fans had been waiting for. Sometimes all it takes is a new producer with a new vision to get a band back on track. That is exactly what happened here as they now had Bruce Fairbairn in toe and the rest was revisionist history. Angus Young was given an ultimatum to travel the time machine to a place where he was once again seventeen. And the finished product was absolutely epic. The first track "Thunderstruck" is arguably the band's greatest song of all-time. And the album is compromised of many other 'A' list monsters. As other musical genres (grunge, nu-metal, etc.) were taking over, The Razors Edge saw AC/DC once again claim top dog of hard rock greatness.
4. Let There Be Rock (1977)
Widely considered the crown jewel of the Bon Scott era, Let There Be Rock is the straw that stirred the drink for the bands takeoff in popularity. This album was the antithesis to technical sound and progressive musicianship. Punk rock meets heavy metal so to speak. Angus Young truly showcased his talents on this one folks and Bon Scott's vocal words were musical magic. If you did not know any better, one might mistake this studio album for a live one as far as sound production goes. In fact, 'Hell Ain't A Bad Place to Be' was recorded completely out of tune. The sound of the record was aggressive and raw; a feature that appealed to the masses. The rest of the album smelled as good as roses...especially a 'Whole Lotta Rosie.' Everyone was going left while AC/DC went right with this instant classic.
3. Highway to Hell (1979)
The band was finally able to take the platinum plunge. AC/DC's breakthrough album busted down the highway and when the dust settled there was only hell to pay. This would be the last album that Bon Scott would ever record as he sadly passed away only one year later. Not only did the album fair better in sales and popularity, it also marked a change in production and sound quality. Definitely the most polished and technical album of the Scott led era. The title track may be the greatest arena anthem ever made and embodies the passion of the entire band. The addition of Mutt Lange as the band's producer paid huge dividends. They finally boasted a record with top of the line sound and quality. This was the high point for the band till this point a crescendo that would not last very long though.
2. Powerage (1978)
This was the album that truly showcased the dual guitar talents of Angus and Malcolm Young. The duo was brilliant and Scott's lyrics were the missing link to an incredible masterpiece. The infancy had matured in many ways, the training wheels were off and the band was rocking on all levels. However; they still enjoyed that raw and unkept flavor and that's what made this album better than its successor in 'Highway to Hell.' Most experts and many musicians consider this the best overall album of the band's catalog and cites its musical purity. Another record with attitude but with more focus this time around. You could tell that the group was trying to tell as story and the results were unanimous. They finally struck gold and this was the holy grail. This is another one you just have to crank up!
1. Back In Black (1980)
This was probably the easiest pick for a band's top album that I have ever had the chance of making. A slam dunk, grand slam, power play, pick six all in one. This album was literally the resurrection of AC/DC, as they had just lost their lead singer. Not only was this the grand daddy of all comeback records, but it is mentioned as arguably the greatest rock and roll album of all-time. The cream of the crop for the Australian Metal Gods, this represented their finest hour. The album is littered with "A" list hits. The hits keep coming fast and furious and if your looking for down time you will never ever find it. I consider this one of the greatest overall records of all time in all musical genres. The album never gets old and its one that you can still play through from beginning to end without skipping a track. Passes the ear test with flying colors. To hell with Mount Rushmore...This is more like Mount Everest.
Hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane with AC/DC. Next up is the METAL GODS themselves...Judas Priest. Don't forget to check out Kevin Law and Johnny E every Thursday from 7PM-9PM. Let us know what you think of the new segment and don't forget to send in any requests for a band you would like us to cover moving forward. Until next time...Rock on Mates!! We leave you with a special treat from AC/DC!
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