Back in Black

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge AC/DC fan, but I’ve never disliked them either.  Their music is usually really fun, and the lyrics are the epitome of immature teen age boy humor.  I’m pretty sure my first experience with this band goes all the way back to elementary school when we worked “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” into a Batman-themed skit we wrote for the Olympics of the Mind.  I remember the Artistic One and I were dressed like the Dynamic Duo (I was Batman of course) and we had to make a vehicle out of some casters and a couple particle boards.  We then had to wheel around “Gotham City” catching criminals and doing good deeds.  At some point I was supposed to use a fishing net to catch a baby that was thrown out of a burning building (it was a Cabbage Patch doll), but I missed and it splattered on the gym floor.  Good times.  We didn’t win that year.

AC/DC was big while I was in high school.  I remember DJing dances with the boys from Maximum Overdrive (“We’ll make your nipples bleed.”) and always fielding requests for songs from this album, especially “You Shook Me All Night Long”.  But it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that AC/DC really became a part of my life…that was when I met Fernando, the Peruvian Love God.  Now the Peruvian Love God was also a freshman, and even though he didn’t live in my dorm, he pretty much spent every night crashed on the floor in somebody’s suite.  Fernando actually was Peruvian, with a thick accent and a huge white-boy afro, and even though he was a little guy, he had a big personality.  He was also a very good self-taught guitar player, and his claim to fame was that he could play virtually every AC/DC song by ear.  Occasionally, the Peruvian Love God would actually dress up like Angus Young and run around the 19th floor of Lincoln Tower (it was a circular hall) while playing the intro to “Thunderstruck” one-handed.  Another time, again while dressed as Angus Young, he kicked open the door to our suite room and yelled, in his thick Spanish accent, “Are you rrrready to rrrrock!”.  Then he dropped to the floor and started to spin on his shoulders while he played and sang “Highway to Hell”.  Good memories.  At one point, after the Artistic One got booted from school, Fernando actually moved into my dorm room and we tried to start a rock band.  We wrote a couple of decent songs together, but mostly we just sat around drinking Jack Daniels and talking about our favorite bands, and it never wound up going anywhere.  Sadly, a year or so later, the Peruvian Love God dropped out of school and moved down to Cincinnasty to work at a Taco Bell, and I lost track of him after that.  I hope he’s still playing guitar, and I hope he’s rocking out somewhere right now!

As for this album, I got it from Used Kids for $5 several years ago when AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  At the time, I was trying to teach a unit on the inductees to middle school general music students, which honestly didn’t work out too well, but at least I got this album out of it.  Some people say this album is heavy metal, but I disagree.  To my ear, this is heavy blues rock, pure and simple.  And while it may lack the sophistication of other heavy blues rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses, this album makes up for it in sheer power.  In fact, for over a decade Ohio State football has used the opening riff to “Hells Bells” to pump up the crowd on big 3rd down plays for the defense, and I can’t even come close to explaining the feeling of electricity from 106,000-plus fans cheering while that song is playing.  Other songs on this album like “Back in Black” and “Shoot to Thrill” have the same intensity, while other songs like “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Have a Drink On Me” add an element of fun to the mix.  Add in the double-entendre of “Giving the Dog a Bone” and “Let Me Put My Love Into You” and you have a teenage boy’s dream album that has aged incredibly well since it’s release back in 1980.

Other lists: The song “Back in Black” is #190 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Angus Young is ranked #24 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, and the band is ranked #72 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.  The album Back in Black is also #26 (one spot ahead of Appetite for Destruction, even though Appetite is 15 spots ahead of it on the top 500 list) on the list of the 100 Best Albums of the 1980s.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped 4 spots from its original position of #73 due to the addition of CCR’s Chronicle and the rise of Kid AGraceland, and Star Time.

My favourite track: “Shoot to Thrill”

Honourable mention: “You Shook Me All Night Long”

Quote: “So look at me now, I’m just makin’ my play.  Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way.”

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