photo & text by nacrowe
i really have to watch myself when driving while blasting this record from my stereo system, since it slowly creeps up and then you being to notice that you are now 20 miles an hour faster than usual.
recorded in the wake of the untimely passing of former vocalist BON SCOTT, AC/DC's BACK IN BLACK (ATLANTIC, 1980) is both an acknowledgement of his influence and one of the truly great second acts in music history. its hard to imagine what it must have been like for new vocalist / lyricist BRIAN JOHNSON when he stepped foot in that BAHAMAS studio, knowing full well how BELOVED and sorely missed his LEGENDARY predecessor had been to the global ROCK AND ROLL community. and to carve out his own legacy in the process is just so incredibly INSPIRING, with STUNNING classic tracks like "SHOOT TO THRILL," "HELL'S BELLS," "YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG" and, of course, the ICONIC title track "BACK IN BLACK." the quality level was maintained and did not dip through the transfer of vocalists and remains the gold standard of such transitions to this day (i.e. PINK FLOYD, ALICE IN CHAINS, JOY DIVISION / NEW ORDER, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, etc.). its hard not to listen to this record and not feel inspired to go out and live life no matter the obstacles.
as i mentioned before SCOTT's presence is all over this record and there are more than a few references to DEATH and the GRIEVING PROCESS, especially on "HELL'S BELLS" and "BACK IN BLACK." whats so compelling is that ultimately the concept of ROCK AND ROLL and its embedded 'take no prisoners' mantra (which SCOTT shared) is where one finds both RESOLUTION and ABSOLUTION. it is through music and the community built on it that we all TRANSCEND our individual circumstances and even DEATH itself. the music makes us IMMORTAL. the fact that BACK IN BLACK exists and is such a SLAMMING album for the ages is the biggest testament of LOVE and RESPECT for their departed friend that could ever be expressed, as it furthers his legacy and the passion he shared with his audience. it really is a SINGULAR achievement. to this day, every time AC/DC perform it is a proclamation of their brotherhood and remembrance of not only SCOTT, but more recently MALCOLM YOUNG as well.
i have to mention that sonically this record, like all AC/DC projects, does not deviate from the tried-and-true formula of previous releases as it is all very much rooted in BLUES open-chord riffs played in that pocket just behind beat. its such a simple yet REFINED sound and it has a SPARTAN appeal that endures to this day but has not been matched by generations of ROCK AND ROLL bands. like most lovers of ROCK AND ROLL, BACK IN BLACK is a SEMINAL record that is worthy of all the hype and more than a little admiration for the fact that it even exists at all.
its required listening.