It was 40 years ago today

Released in the US on this day in 1980, Back in Black remains the biggest-selling rock album of all time.

Not bad for a replacement singer who borrowed a mate’s car and a fiver from his dad to get to the audition.

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32 Responses to It was 40 years ago today

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    Some time things just work.
    It’s a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll.
    Ok that’s from TNT not BiB.

  2. Bear Necessities

    Whilst BIB is a great album If feel Highway to Hell is better from a lyrical perspective. Heaps of great lyrics on HTH. Highway to Hell , Walk all over you, Shot down in flames, Touch too much, If you want Blood. Bon’s lyrical poetry was really coming on. Unfortunately what made Bon a great lyricist, his sense of adventure, having a good time, not giving a [email protected]#$ also shortened his life.

  3. Archivist

    The album kicks off with that incredible, ominous opening riff at the start of Hell’s Bells. Wow.

    So many great rock songs…. the only dud (IMHO) is track 4, “Givin the dog a bone”.

  4. egg_

    Vanda* and Young prodigy.
    The very dry mix of the album likely hasn’t aged it and it is used as a reference source for OB (bass) setup to this day.

    *Has to be the Godfather of Oz Rock.

  5. Archivist

    ACDC had a similar formative period to the Beatles, in that for years, they worked their arses off doing countless live performances. People who saw them in those early years will tell you that they were tightly disciplined on stage. Not a single note out of place.

    You can see it in the stage performances all over youtube from after they hit the big time. These guys, all of them, were technically proficient and at the absolute top of their game. Malcolm was the true genius, the brains behind the whole thing, but he didn’t take the limelight. He let the others shine.

  6. Frank

    Heaps of great lyrics on HTH.

    Someone I know had to write a poem for his Western Australian HSC equivalent exam in the 1980s. He spat out the lyrics to Night Prowler and apparently did quite well for that section of the test.

  7. areff

    There’s no beating Bon.

  8. areff

    and this is well worth 39 minutes of your life:

  9. Noodle

    Clearly racist and needs to be banned.

  10. C.L.

    I don’t think there has been a voice like Bon’s in rock and roll before or since.
    He wasn’t a screecher. Those notes were nailed and held, fella.

  11. C.L.

    I’ve posted this performance at Essex University in 1977 before.
    Talk about tight. Phil Rudd was a machine.

  12. herodotus

    I’ve been called tight, usually late at night.

  13. Petros

    The Paris concert from 1979 is worth a look. Such energy. Angus was the star. Was surprised that Malcolm’s funeral was in Sydney. I thought they all lived in the UK for years.

  14. C.L.

    I believe Angus has lived in the Netherlands for yonks.

  15. NoFixedAddress

    I like this one as I happened to be passing the then National Mutual Building forecourt in Collins Street Melbourne and stopped to watch them set up.

    Bloody amazing.

    Live at River Plate is also excellent.

  16. NoFixedAddress

    Thunderstruck is good but it was meant to be IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP (IF YOU WANNA ROCK ‘N’ ROLL)

  17. littledozer

    What a great band.

    Regarding the opening riff on the title track—indisputably one of the most iconic guitar crunches in all of rock—Angus Young recalls, “Malcolm had that riff for about three weeks. He came in one night and said, ‘You got your cassette here? Can I put this down? It’s been driving me mad. I won’t be getting any sleep until I put it on cassette.’ He sat down and played it all. The funniest thing is he said to me, ‘What do you think? I don’t know if it’s crap or not.’”

    Over the years Shoot to Thrill has just gotten better and better to my ears, rate it their best song.

    Black Hawk Down pilot Michael Durant from Somalia in 1993. “He was shoved in prison,” Brian Johnson says. “His back was broken. They were kicking him, shooting bullets into him and he was terrified. His pals knew that AC/DC was his favorite band so they hooked up a speaker to the skid of one of the Black Hawks and they were playing ‘Hells Bells’ over the rooftops. He took his shirt off and—because his legs were broken—he crawled up to the windows and waved his shirt. That’s how they got him out. Ain’t that amazing?!”

    Malcolm on Back in Black

    “With Bon’s death we wanted to put everything down right, we were really focused on that album and it turned out to be timeless and I think it’ll stay that way. I think maybe AC/DC had come to a peak at that point.”

  18. Squirrel

    Another vote for this slightly off-topic gem –

    aside from the sheer visceral pleasure, it’s a reminder of that halcyon time when Strayans stopped trying to be more British than the British, had yet to discover the faux pleasures of being karaoke Yanks, and were just themselves.

    It’s also a reminder of what a pre-wankified ABC (the clip was done for Countdown) could do when it simply wanted to entertain, not nag or posture.

  19. jupes

    Was surprised that Malcolm’s funeral was in Sydney.

    Pretty sure he lived in Balmain.

  20. Archivist

    Pretty sure he lived in Balmain.


  21. jupes

    and this is well worth 39 minutes of your life:

    Good stuff areff. Last time I saw them was probably a year before that. Never saw them with the new bloke singing.

  22. sfw

    I went to a party in a flat in Parkville near the end of the Tulla Freeway, late 70’s, thes blokes turned up, they had just played at a pub nearby, I hadn’t heard muchof them but everyone else said they would be big, and Bon and the boys went on to do so.

    Bon could sing and play the recorder.

  23. Siltstone

    C.L. I’ve posted this performance at Essex University in 1977 before.
    So good to see the the audience paying attention and mobile phones not being the centre of their world (unlike now).

  24. NoFixedAddress

    #3525112, posted on July 26, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Another vote for this slightly off-topic gem –

    Thanks for that Squirrel

    My you tube copy/paste to the Cat is picking on me…. lol

    I forget the year exactly but they sure kept lifting the bar on what is ‘the top’.

  25. Nob

    Sfw, must have been really 70s cos I saw acdc with Bon at the Croxton Park in 74 or 76.
    Tuesday nights, “Rock at The Croc” , band came on in between the disco.

    By the second set, ACDC had got their attention.

  26. Nob

    Early 70s, not “really” 70s but it was that too.

  27. Bad Samaritan

    Noodle (4.43pm) Further to your observation that this 1980 malarkey is clearly racist….

    I’ve been looking at a number of Bobby Fisher chess matches/games of note recently…….you surely know many of them already; vs Donald Byrne 1956; vs Spassky Game 6 world Championship 1972 (The Applause!) etc…when I found the following from Susan Polger on Fischer vs the other Byrne (Robert)….”Byrne was white, Fischer was black (sic; should be Black)” WTF?

    As is usual with chess notation, I’ve placed a “??” against this one, and sent it off to the ABC fact-checkers at ANU for adjudication on this. Will get back to you so soon as they decide it’s a deplorably cultural appropriation thingy. And what serious penalty Ms Polger must pay (removed from the list of female world champions, and demoted to white floozy maybe)….whilst demanding that the privileged Mr Fischer be publicly shamed . Even in snob-circles like this, Black Face is just not on!

  28. littledozer

    Bon could sing and play the recorder.

    He could play the drums as well. He was a vocalist/drummer in his first band The Spectors.

    The holy grail of recordings are the session(s) Malcolm, Angus played with Bon on drums in preparation for the album that would become back in Black. Up to 5 songs were being worked on.

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