REVIEW: AC/DC – Back In Black (2004 DualDisc edition)

AC/DC – Back In Black (originally 1980, 2004 Epic DualDisc)

How many times have I bought Back in Black?  How many times have you bought it?  I know that I purchased it on CD first in 1990, and then four more times since.  I currently own two copies:  this DualDisc, and the one that came in the Bonfire box set.  I don’t think I have it on vinyl, but I could be wrong.  The DualDisc has a DVD side with some neat stuff including a documentary.

“The Story of Back In Black” begins in 1979, with Highway to Hell,  fame and glory.  New interviews with all five AC/DC members (Angus & Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd and Brian Johnson) provides a little bit of insight.  We all know the story: February 19 1980, the death of Bon Scott, and the brave decision to carry on have become rock legend.  But according to Angus, it was Malcolm who kept the band playing, if only to distract them from the pain of their loss.  The band continued to jam and write without a singer, but producer Mutt Lange knew of one from a band called Geordie.  Brian recalls a hilarious story of being invited to audition for the band.  He went down to London and played “Whole Lotta Rosie” with AC/DC for the first time.  They then went to the Bahamas with Mutt to record.

ACDC BIB DUAL_0005The band tells the stories behind several songs:  “Hells Bells”, “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”, “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Back in Black”, and “Shoot to Thrill”, while Angus and Malcolm demonstrate the riffs up close.  Brian reveals “Back in Black” was a challenge, since it was intended as a tribute in song to Bon.  No small feat to get the mood right.  The 30 minute mini-doc ends with Back in Black selling 10 million copies.  I guess they got it right!

You know the songs.  You’ve heard ’em the radio, seen ’em on the video, hummed them in your sleep.  “Hells Bells” is one of those archetypal AC/DC songs.  When one pictures the “ominous AC/DC headbanger” song, “Hells Bells” should certainly come to mind.  Then you can get your stompin’ shoes on for “Shoot to Thrill”.  I do miss Bon Scott’s sly playfulness, but there’s nothing wrong with Brian Johnson’s full-speed-ahead screech either.  “What Do You Do For Money Honey” is as catchy today as it was then, and has the benefit of being one of the songs that doesn’t get played every single day on the radio.  I’m not as burned out on it.  Same with “Givin the Dog a Bone”, but on that song all I can do is wonder what Bon would have done with that groove.

One truly outstanding track is the last song on side one, “Let Me Put My Love Into You”.  Yes, that title is hardly clever.  But the song kicks ass all over the place.  It’s one of those late night prowls that AC/DC do so well, and it perfectly closes the first side.

ACDC BIB DUAL_0004

The title track opens the second side with a bang.  Then “You Shook Me All Night Long”, a classic that also needs no introduction.  If you don’t know this song then you probably don’t listen to rock music.  I can’t add anything to the discussion there.

“Have A Drink On Me” and “Shake A Leg” are both fine AC/DC songs.  Nothing wrong with ’em, nothing exceptional about them.  Thankfully they saved one of the best songs for last:  “Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”.  This has been my favourite track since first getting the album 24 years ago.  It’s an anthem, the kind of thing we can all agree on.  Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution, baby.  I’ll drink to that.

I don’t think Back In Black is the best AC/DC album, but it might be the best Brian Johnson album.  It’s certainly the most important AC/DC album historically, and it’s a must for any serious rock fan to own.  Choose your format according to your own wishes, but this DualDisc edition satisfies me fine.

4/5 stars

For those times when you can’t use the internet to tell you what songs are on what albums.

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45 comments

      1. I don’t want to become like that annoying little Queensryche dude who bothered you, but You’re wrong!! Heretic!! Heretic!! Non-believer!!

        DDDDC is a 6/5, whereas as LTBR is a 7/5.

        Heretic!!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I remember that. Just had another read. I totally get that experience of discovering a band just for their next new album to be a shiter. Have you been into any of their albums since then? I quite liked Stiff Upper Lip for a while.

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        2. RE was a good step in the right direction and I agree with you on SUL; I’m also fond of BI too. B wasn’t so hot though.

          I was doing the Chuck Berry/Angus duck walk to ‘Givin the dog a bone’ just now – much to my children’s dismay.

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  1. Let’s see I originally bought it on vinyl, than cd in 1988 and than with the remastered version and than the one with Bonfire. So make that 4 copies for me! The vinyl though is long gone it skipped like crazy ……were on the same wave length as far as ACDC goes Mike. Check my page on Wednesday!….

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  2. SARCA! Seeeeecrets…: I have never bought a copy of Back in Black. I actually don’t own my own copy.

    Before you come chasing me around with pitchforks off this community, AC/DC is my husband’s favourite all-time band. He has bought Back in Black 4 times: cassette, CD, Bonfire and on vinyl. So, by marriage I have 4 copies by technicality. But, I don’t actually own MY OWN copy.

    However! Back in Black is in my pantheon of favourites. It’s so listenable. Every song is great! And I could easily listen to it on a loop over and over again without complaint! It also reminds me of when my hubs and I started going out, because I introduced him to the awesomeness of RUSH, and he AC/DC to me.

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    1. This story makes me smile on a holiday Monday morning.

      GOOD MORNING. ‘Bout to get my Cupface on.

      Seems there are a few of us out there who have owned in 4 times. 4 seems to be the magic number. And that’s fine about your not owning your “own” copy. We discussed earlier the marital CD collection arrangements!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Only 2 times for me (both cd issues), oddly enough.

    Doc is available on youtube fwiw. I’m guessing the Dual Disc is obsolete by now. Watched it last night. Lots of stuff even I didn’t know. Malcolm really is the soul of that band, interested to see how they soldier on without him.

    Agree with you about DDDDC, its superior by a full half point but BIB probably get listened to more often.

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    1. Yeah I’d agree with that, the Dual Disc is obselete. As long as a good quality version is available on youtube, then it’s easier to watch that than the Dual Disc. But it was a thing.

      I’m worried for the soul of the band without Mal.

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      1. Dirty Deeds better than BIB? NOOOO!!! I always thought Dirty Deeds was the weakest of the Bon Scott stuff, it just seemed to be really lacking compared to every single other album they did with him, Australian and International. Most of the songs on DDDDC are good, but only the title track and “Ride On” are actually spectacular. “Ain’t No Fun” comes close, but “Love At First Feel” is mediocre, “Big Balls” is fun only as a novelty (but they did it better with She’s Got Balls), “Rocker” is okay, but WAY better on the live album If You Want Blood, “There’s Gonna be Some Rockin'” sounds like a half-assed blues romp that doesn’t go anywhere, and “Squealer” is just filler. The Australian version with “Jailbreak” instead of “Rocker” (which was originally on the Australian TNT which I have on vinyl), and “Rock in Peace” instead of “Love at First Feel” is better, but still the weakest of the Bon Scott stuff. Let There be Rock is the masterpiece. Hell, I’ll just give you me entire useless opinion.

        1. Let There be Rock 5/5
        2. If You Want Blood You’ve Got it (5/5) (My AC/DC desert island disc, even if Whole Lotta Rosie isn’t really live, just the studio version sped up with a different vocal and solo, the rest is live)
        3. Back in Black 5/5
        4. Powerage 5/5
        5. Highway to Hell 4.75/5
        6. Flick of the Switch 4.5/5 (SO underrated. Take off “Deep in the Hole” and it’d be perfect)
        7. T.N.T./High Voltage (International, they’re basically the same) 4.25/5
        8. High Voltage (Australian) 3.5/5
        9. For Those About to Rock 3.5/5
        10. Fly on the Wall 3.25/5
        11. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 3/5
        12. Live 1992 Collector’s Edition 3/5 (I wish they’d done before Brian lost his voice on TRE)
        13. The Razors Edge 2/5
        14. Ballbreaker 2/5
        15. Blow Up Your Video 1.5/5

        Haven’t heard the new ones.

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  4. 2 copies for me – a CD from the Columbia House/BMG days and an LP from University, in good shape for $5!
    I like that the iconic albums don’t necessarily get awarded the 5/5 automatically – and it will come as no shock to hear this is among the 1001!

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  5. Three times for me. One CD back in the day, sold off because I’m a tool. The remastered version sold off for money to cover a move between provinces (most likely). And now another copy and I’m good to go.

    Hard to have perspective on this one, it’s so pervasive. Top to bottom, a solid record.

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      1. I do! I have most of my vinyl that I bought ’75-’86ish as CDs took over. I even have some of my old 45s. But PISSED I got rid of some of those. I used to buy music from about 5 years old….had old BeeGees to Joe Walsh etc as a kid….good times!!!!!!

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