Music Rules: “Back In Black” turned 40

AC/DC’s seventh album “Back In Black” was released on July 25th, 1980, forty years ago. If you haven’t heard it, you lived a sad life and need to get one. Back In Black is similar to Nirvana’s “Nevermind” in 1992, both records that brought harder edged music into the mainstream, creating space for all the bands that followed. Both have stood the test of time and repeat listening.

(Excuse me for a week of no posting. Other items of more substance have come up that I want to post, but I have not had internet access at home for the last few days. I’m doing this from work.)

After the commercial success of 1979’s “Highway To Hell”, AC/DC were set for mainstream breakthrough, then singer Bon Scott died. The band sought a replacement singer, choosing Brian Johnson, former singer of UK band Geordie, as suggested by producer Mutt Lange.

One story from the recording sessions was when the band wanted to record Johnson’s vocals, they couldn’t find him. At first they thought he had disappeared. They eventually found him in the studio’s rec room, playinng pool with the roadies. Exactly their type of person, down to Earth and not full of himself.

Back In Black has certified sales of 29.4 million, and an estimated 50 million worldwide. Only Jackson’s “Thriller” has sold more. Back In Black produced four hit singles (all top 40). All ten songs are standouts, not one weak moment on it.

On the opening track “Hells Bells”, the minute long instrumental section was intentional, done to make listeners anticipate Johnson’s voice. The title track was placed on side 2 to give listeners reason to try side 1.

The last single, “Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”, has a spoken section at the beginning. It was intended to mock fundamentalist christian preachers.


  1. thecdn says

    40 years ago? OMFG I’m old. I have lots of ac/dc on my spotify lists and at least once a week crank up the Shoot to Thrill Ironman video on youtube..

  2. Sean Boyd says

    Gotta say, I’ve never listened to the entire album straight through, but the songs I do know are earworms…can’t get them out of my head if I hear one of them. Like now…

  3. johnson catman says

    All ten songs are standouts, not one weak moment on it.

    Agreed! I was not really a fan of AC/DC until I got this album a few years after its release. I subsequently went back and acquired previous albums (well, CDs), but Back in Black is the standout winner. It is much like another black album, Metallica, aka “The Black Album” that brought me to a group I had previously not really paid attention to. Good stuff! Thanks for the memory!