Road Trip: Part 2 – AC/DC

With 13 hours left to drive, it was time to kick things up a notch.

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With 13 hours left to drive, it was time to kick things up a notch. This is what the A to Z playlist is supposed to be, rocking through multiple albums by a single artist. AC/DC took me all the way home. Here’s how they did it:

Back in Black

I never used to question this album, just listened to it for what it was. Listening more closely though, for being such an iconic album, it’s kind of weird how they set it up. Thinking about vinyl (and cassettes), albums used to have two spots where you’d have to kick off the music. Side A and B. This album is almost reversed, with the title track kicking off side B and the best songs following it. Usually a CD runs out of gas at the end, but this one has its worst tracks at the end of Side A. Here’s the track list:

Side one
No. Title Length
1. Hells Bells 5:10
2. Shoot to Thrill 5:17
3. “What Do You Do for Money Honey” 3:33
4. “Given the Dog a Bone” 3:30
5. “Let Me Put My Love into You” 4:16
Side two
No. Title Length
1. Back in Black 4:14
2. You Shook Me All Night Long 3:30
3. “Have a Drink on Me” 3:57
4. “Shake a Leg” 4:06
5. Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution 4:15

Trust me, tracks 3-5 are nowhere near as good as you think they are. Give them a good listen again with fresh ears. If nothing else, the god awful lyrics for these songs should have been enough to kick them off the album.

Thankfully, Side Two redeems this album with some of their best songs and makes you forget Side One ever happened. Back in Black, Shook Me All Night Long, and RnR Ain’t Noise Pollution are some of my favorites.

Who Made Who

What is this album exactly? A greatest hits with a few new songs? A rerecording of previous material? A remix/remaster? Thank God for Wikipedia – Who Made Who, which explains this mess.  Apparently, this album was thrown together by taking tracks from the Maximum Overdrive movie soundtrack and mixing them with previous hits that were remixed and remastered. What a strange way to put together an album. Despite this, it’s actually quite good. Who Made Who is a great song and the ones they chose to go with it are classic hits.  To quote Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic, this album is “a ripping AC/DC retrospective” and he applauds the band for “rescuing songs like Sink the Pink from otherwise mediocre albums.”

One funny thing to mention, when I put this CD in my player, I thought it was broken the bass and low end was so loud. After my initial shock, I realized that I had just listened to all of Back in Black and barely noticed the bass at all. The mixing of these two albums is so different, but I must say Who Made Who sounds so much richer and is a more full sounding experience.

AC/DC Live

What stood out to me on this one was how much Angus Young’s guitar sound has evolved after listening to these three in a row. It’s a much more modern, rectified sound with lots of crunch. In the 70’s, he just played like everyone else, through a bunch of Marshall stacks. His lead sound has always been unique, but the rhythm parts were not. Now on this one he’s fully on board with the heavy metal style distortion, but using it to play their old classics. Some of the songs sound much better this way, like Shook Me All Night Long, and others just sound muddy and hard to listen to like Hells Bells. Be careful what you wish for when cranking up the distortion on these new amps.

In all, it’s a great album. You can’t find a better collection of their hits than this and it was a great listen. Despite a few tracks that were too muddy from the new guitar rig, you won’t find a better live album.

Here’s something to leave you with, my favorite song from this trip: Who Made Who. This video is so cheesy 80’s, it’s ridiculous. Sometimes bad is good, like those silver headed aliens or whatever they are.

Thanks for reading! The next post will be about Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and the boys from Aerosmith. See you then!