Metal Monday! Dan here. Welcome to another edition of The Horns Up Top 10. This week, we’re going to take a look through ten songs from the band that represented my first (non-nü metal) foray into heavy music: the mighty AC/DC.
With 41 years, 15 albums and countless classic tunes under their belts, it’s hard to overstate AC/DC’s importance to hard rock and heavy metal. As a music listener, hearing “Highway to Hell” in the credits of Adam Sandler’s movie Little Nicky (I know…I know…) was my personal catalyst toward an interest in heavy music. (Okay, an interest in real heavy music–I was a KoRn and Static-X kid before that.) Fourteen years later, I’ve never looked back.
Anyway, it was hard to pick just 10 songs from the band’s extensive discography for this list, but I did my best here. My personal top 10 for AC/DC is below, so check it out:
“Thunderstruck” (from The Razor’s Edge, 1990)
Look up the word “adrenaline” in the dictionary and chances are you’ll find this song. As good an album-opening track (both studio and on AC/DC Live) as any band’s got. Angus’s opening hammer-on/pull-off guitar lick still gives me chills to this day, as do the chorus and solo sections. So. goddamn. good.
“Riff Raff” (from Powerage, 1978)
Good god, what a face-melter. It’s one of Angus’s best guitar showcases and, more notably, it’s Bon Scott’s most feral performance as AC/DC’s vocalist. (No exceptions, really.) Easily my favorite song on an absolute gem of an album.
“War Machine” (from Black Ice, 2008)
So this one probably won’t be on a lot of people’s playlists, but dammit, I’ve loved the hell out of it ever since it came out. At 15 tracks, Black Ice is a little (okay, a lot) longer than it needs to be, and some of it does start to blend together after a while. Not so with “War Machine”–tremendous riff, and a surprising grower of a chorus.
“Shake Your Foundations” (from Fly on the Wall, 1985)
So this one’s probably on even fewer playlists than “War Machine,” but again…I couldn’t really care less. The sustained, minor-third harmony verse lick is catchy as all hell, and the “I-E-I-E-IIII” chorus is an absolute beast. It’s a strong link on an otherwise totally mediocre album, and it holds its own to this day.
“Fire Your Guns” (from The Razor’s Edge, 1990)
I swear, there are some more Bon Scott-era songs coming! But before we get to those, I have to touch on this absolute lightning rod (pun intended) of a track. Strategically placed immediately following “Thunderstruck” on the Razor’s Edge album, “Fire Your Guns” keeps the momentum going with an upbeat tempo and a tremendous set of riffage from the brothers Young. At just 2:53, it feels like it comes and goes at 90 miles an hour. Wouldn’t have it any other way. (Included the live video here, because it’s even MORE so.)
“Highway to Hell” (from Highway to Hell, 1979)
I’ll admit, it was hard to not simply list the entire Highway to Hell album as my list and call it a day here. Had to whittle a few out, but there’s no way a classic like this misses the cut. As I mentioned before, it’s the reason I got into proper heavy music–but there’s enough going for it to get by on more than just sentimental value. A fantastic riff, an infectious chorus, and a simple, understated solo from Angus make this one an easy entry on the list.
“Live Wire” (from High Voltage, 1976)
Perhaps my favorite track from the band’s U.S. debut (it also featured on the Australia-only T.N.T. album)–no small feat with it going up against the likes of “TNT,” “High Voltage,” and “The Jack”! However, the band’s gradual buildup from whisper to roar has always stood out to me. By the time Angus starts shredding his fretboard to pieces, you’re on some kind of natural high. Terrific stuff.
“What Do You Do for Money Honey?” (from Back in Black, 1980)
Listen to that gotdamn chorus and tell me this thing shouldn’t be on here. I rest my case.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” (from Back in Black, 1980)
Always loved this album closer. It’s a bit bluesier than anything on Back in Black so it’s a nice change of pace–particularly coming after the ill-conceived head of steam that is “Shake A Leg.” When you factor in the anthemic lyrics and absolutely triumphant guitar solo, it’s hard to discount this thing. Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t gonna die, indeed.
“Shot Down in Flames” (from Highway to Hell, 1979)
My favorite AC/DC song for as long as I’ve been a fan of the band. Even listening to it now, 12 years after first exposure, it still gives me all the feels. Bon Scott’s screeching howl, Malcolm’s masterclass rhythm performance, Angus’s over the top solo, and–most importantly–the incredibly FULL sounding chorus. Good god is this thing a killer.
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(Ha! You think AC/DC would allow their stuff to stream on Spotify? This is the band that didn’t even join iTunes until 2012. MAYBE they’ll be on Spotify by 2020. Maybe.)
Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.