AC/DC is one of the best hard rock bands ever. LastFM rates AC/DC as the top hard rock band of all time. Loudwire and Rateyourmusic.com ranks AC/DC as the fourth best hard rock act. Ranker has AC/DC listed second only to Led Zeppelin….and let’s be honest…..comparing Zeppelin to AC/DC is comparing pomegranates to avocados. AC/DC rocks hard, and all these publications agree!
Personally, I don’t know where I would rank AC/DC, but I do know they are in my top five favorite hard rock bands of all time. Mind you, I didn’t always think so. Yet, somehow I see how AC/DC’s music has integrated and even interlaced itself in my memories – even before I was a fan. I guess that’s part of why I now see that AC/DC rocks hard….their songs did not care about my status as a non fan.
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)
I really did not know For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) until a couple years back…so I do not have any great memories attached to the song. With that said – I start this list off with For Those About to Rock because the thesis of the song matches the thesis of this article; AC/DC rocks hard!
AC/DC is rock and roll at its most raw and even most raucous form. Their music is unashamed and unapologetic. At times, I disagree with AC/DC’s world view, but I have to respect the band nonetheless. Their attitude is…if nothing else…true to themselves. I respect that. So many rockers, even bands I truly love, really do not know how to be true to themselves.
With that in mind you….I hope this song primes you for the rest of the journey you’re about to take. Stand up and be counted for what you’re about to receive. For those about to rock, and for those who have been rocking since the 70s, we salute you!
You Shook me All Night Long
The year was 1989. I was volunteering at a summer camp in between my 8th grade and freshman years. I had a coworker and cabin mate who was really into classic rock, and insisted we listen to KGON as we worked.
One night, after dinner, we were doing our normal dish washing routine while blaring KGON from the mess hall kitchen. The DJ plays You Shook Me All Night Long, and to the surprise of my coworkers, I started banging the wash tubs like a pair of bongos. I was really into the song – I really don’t know why. You Shook Me All Night Long that night just got to me! I don’t think I washed a single dish during that song. I was just into the beat I guess.
Later on that night, my coworkers (all being around the same adolescent age as myself), sneered….what were you doing in there? That was weird. I fabricated some lie about playing bongos in my school’s band. What really happened that night though – I was arrested. Arrested by the rhythm.
The first time I heard Thunderstruck was on The Video Jukebox Neverwork, a pay per request video channel. Looking at the video now – I can see why I didn’t flip the channel to MTV – the video for Thunderstruck is awe striking. The under stage cameras, the concert set, and the high energy of the song in general. I have never stopped loving Thunderstruck and I will love the song till the day I die.
Or so I thought. In 1991, as AC/DC opened a concert in Salt Lake City with Thunderstruck. This would be the last song three people would hear, as the standing room only seats at the front of the arena became a crushing death machine. The crowd got too excited, and the teens fell to the ground. I remember seeing this story on the evening news, and swearing off ever listening to Thunderstruck ever again. It was just so tragic, and shame on the band!
I don’t know how long I kept my vow – but it wasn’t very long. I remember talking about the song with some friends in a car, only two years later. Besides, the band really is not at fault here. The arena and their security had way more to do with the death of these three people. I will admit….the story still haunts me, but again…it isn’t the fault of the music.
The satanic panic of the 70s and 80s led to a good deal of televangelists and demonologists blaming all things evil on secular music. One film on the subject took its name from the song Hells Bells. I mean, of course they did!
As someone who listened to secular music (behind my parents backs), and as someone who was really interested in rock and roll at the time….I knew the panics were an over reaction. I knew the songs of bands such as AC/DC were not going to raise a dark army of otherworldly demons bent on the destruction of humanity of said music was not at all the truth. So these over reactions usage of the title “Hells Bells,” made me love the song even more. Maybe that was my way of being a rebellious teen.
For the record – Hells Bells pays tribute to Bon Scott, AC/DC’s lead singer for six years. This fact makes me even even more angry at the filmmakers in charge of Hells Bells. They took a song about the pain of losing a comrade and loyal friend….and tried to make it a dirty and evil thing.
Highway to Hell
While I loved Hells Bells, I stayed my distance from Highway to Hell. Even now…I feel a little conflicted in listening to the song. Essentially – Highway to Hell is about having a big party in Hell when they die. Coincidently – Highway to Hell would be one of the last hits by AC/DC before Bon Scott’s death. Spooky…eerie…and most of all, extremely sad. Of course, as a devout Christian, the theology (anti-theology?) in the song, really makes my soul ache.
With that said – now when I think of this song, I think about my mom. In her last couple months of life, she was in intensive care. I walk in one day, and the nurse had a classic rock station playing for my mom. My mom was never a classic rock fan, but she tolerated it. …And then I notice the next song to play was “Highway to Hell.” My mom was fighting for her life….anda devout christian. Besides, my mom really did not like AC/DC. She sided with the satanic panic group, especially about this band in particular. Yeah, I changed that station really fast! Even if she loved AC/DC, which again, she did not, the last thing someone who is fighting for their life needs to hear is a song called “Highway to Hell.” Seriously – so many things wrong here! So many many things.
While this memory saddens me a little, it has a bittersweet flavor. I can say that I saved my dying mother from listening to Highway to Hell. That, my friends, is kind of comical.
I never listened to AC/DC on a regular basis until about 6 years back. What changed my mind? The song T.N.T. What got me into the song T.N.T. in particular was the sport of hockey. I randomly went to a Portland Winterhawks game; every time the Winterhawks scored a goal…the soundsystem played the chorus for T.N.T. This ceremony lasts for about thirty seconds, with every fan screaming “TNT! OY! OY! OY!” The opposing team just kind of sat there, looking at their watches, and wondering if this madness would ever end. This ceremony hooked me on the Portland Winterhawks, and I go to as many games as I can now. This ceremony also hooked me on the song, and truly opened my mind more to AC/DC more than Hells Bells, and even Thunderstruck. T.N.T. truly made me believe that AC/DC rocks hard.
A couple years ago, while listening to the song T.N.T., I looked at my phone to see an email announcing Winterhawks playoff tickets. I took it as a sign that the Hawks were going to win it all that year. Sadly, the Winterhawks lost in the first round – but that’s just because the rest of the WHL hates the Winterhawks (salty snark). At least The Hawks still scored a few goals. Of course we all went crazy yelling “Oy! Oy! Oy!” with every rare goal, while the opposing team looked at their watches, and wondering if the celebration would ever end.
Back In Black
Sometime in the mid 00s, I sat in a coffee shop with a date. We idle chatted and landed on the topic of rock and roll. A guy sitting near us joins our conversation, and starts praising AC/DC. His thesis…essentially the thesis of this article. AC/DC rocks hard. He even implied that you can’t like rock music if you don’t like AC/DC. He cited the song “Back in Black” as an example of AC/DC’s raw talent. At that point, I lost interest, as did my date. We made up some excuse and left the coffee shop.
Now that my tastes have changed, I kind of agree with the random coffee shop guy – especially the song Back In Black. Back showcasing not only the guitars of the Young brothers, but also Brian Johnson’s vocals, Back In Black really has something special going on. Metal Hammer agrees, and calls the guitar riff one of the best of all time. Back In Black truly shows that AC/DC rocks hard indeed.
For the record, that was my last date with that woman. It was our third date, and things just weren’t clicking with me. Of course, hindsight is twenty twenty….maybe I broke it off with her because I knew I would eventually grow to love AC/DC, and she would not. Maybe I was being psychic and…ok, ok, maybe I just knew she and I weren’t compatible (and oh, we were not… but that’s a different story).
It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want To Rock and Roll).
I’ve always said the unofficial anthem of AudioPerfecta.com is God Gave Rock and Roll to You. I suppose, a second anthem would be It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll. This song, talks about the struggles one must face if they really want to make it in any facet of the music industry – a struggle I face with every article I write. Once more, It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll) was from AC/DC’s first album! This was not some mid career retrospective….It’s a long way to the Top was AC/DC’s challenge to themselves. AC/DC knew they had what it takes to make it to the top – and thus they declared this to themselves, and to the world, with It’s a Long Way to the Top….but they were ready to climb!
Last November, KGON was looking for a new program director. I knew I didn’t have a shot, but I also knew I had the proper skills if they would just give me a chance. I know broadcasting and I know classic rock. What the hell…I thought, I’ll apply. In my cover, I quoted Its a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll). I mean….it is a classic rock station after all. Yeah…I heard nothing back from KGON. Absolutely nothing. Geez, they could have sent me a form letter or something!
Still not convinced that AC/DC rocks hard?
Honestly – that’s a shame. AC/DC has paid their dues, and I dare say that if you don’t like AC/DC, at least on a musical level, you cannot be a fan of hard rock. Period. Sure…it’s fine to hate AC/DC’s world view. Like I said before, I’m not always a fan of their viewpoint myself. Yet, on a musical level, AC/DC really does rock hard. To deny an almost scientific fact! Why, I would wager that anyone who comes against my thesis of AC/DC rocks hard also denies the Earth is round. Ok, ok, I realize that’s a false equivalency, the Earth’s shape has nothing to do with the fact that AC/DC rocks hard….but you get my point!
If you’re not a fan of AC/DC, but you’re a fan of rock in any form, set aside your beliefs for a second. Listen to a couple of their songs….Back in Black, Thunderstruck, and For Those About to Rock should do. Maybe, just maybe, you too will change your mind, just like I did. Maybe you too will see that AC/DC rocks hard.