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ACDC album Highway To Hell: In your collection?


IMMusicRulz
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Following the release of their classic 1977 album Let There Be Rock, ACDC saw their original bassist Mark Evans leave (at one point briefly replacing him with sometime Manfred Mann's Earth Band bassist Colin Pattenden), replace him with Cliff Williams, and put out a double whammy in 1978: the studio album Powerage, and a live album, If You Want Blood You've Got It, which many music review blogs consider to be one of the best live albums ever recorded.

 

By 1979, ACDC contracted Robert John Mutt Lange, a South African born record producer, to produce Highway To Hell, which has sold 8 million copies to date. Like all of the songs on Highway To Hell, the title track was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, with Angus Young credited for writing the guitar riff which became an instant classic. Malcolm Young once referred to it as "sticking out like a dog's balls." AC/DC had made several studio albums before and were constantly promoting them via a grueling tour schedule, referred to by Angus Young as being on a highway to hell, hence the name. Originally produced with Eddie Kramer, who had made records for David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, and slated to record at Criteria Studios in Miami (which was also where the Eagles Hotel California was recorded), the decision to hire Lange was only after Malcolm had argued with Kramer over the vocal styles of Bon. Mutt would produce the band's next 2 albums, Back In Black, and For Those About To Rock.

 

It was eventually recorded at Basing Street Studios and Roundhouse Studios in London, as well as at Albert Productions Studios in Australia (which was owned by the ACDC members themselves).

 

The title track has been overplayed ad nauseum, but the riff is the recognizable part of the song, as is the chorus, which has been tried by everybody I know when they go to karaoke clubs. The song Highway To Hell was also featured most famously in the movie Megamind. Come on: who hasn't blown out their vocal chords trying to sing like the genius that is Bon Scott? Angus Young may be ACDC, but Bon Scott was the frontman, a guy who definitely lived life to the fullest.

 

Girls Got Rhythm has another great tone from Angus (but come on...is there a bad riff Angus has created? No, as a matter of fact, there isn't!), as well as some great bass work from Cliff Williams (who was primarily using Ampeg amps and a Music Man Stingray bass around this time), over overdubbed backing vocals, and a great instrumental. The only problem: it's too short, clocking in at 3:23! It's also probably the only other song off the album that still gets overplayed.

 

Walk All Over You features Phil Rudd just smashing his snares to bits, and some uncut, live guitar from Angus and Malcolm. (For an album recorded in 1979, I don't think Malcolm or Angus used any phase shifters on their guitars. They may have used some wah pedals, though.) Walk All Over You was also featured on the soundtrack to the film Grown Ups.

 

Touch Too Much, which became a staple of the ACDC concerts come the Reagan years, has been listed by Axl Rose of Guns N Roses as one of his favorite songs. (Axl should know; he toured with ACDC in 2016 after Brian Johnson was forced to temporarily retire due to tinnitus.) It was also featured in the Grand Theft Auto games, and Slash claimed that he took the guitar seriously after hearing a friends copy of Highway To Hell while in high school. Touch Too Much was also issued as a single in the UK and the US, being the last single to be culled from this album. An earlier demo of Touch Too Much, recorded in 1977, is also featured on the Columbia Records reissue of Highway To Hell.

 

The opening guitar riff of "Beating Around the Bush" has been referred to by journalist Phil Sutcliffe as "almost a tribute ... a reflection, I hesitate to say a copy" of "Oh Well" by Fleetwood Mac. It's more or less a song about grinding on people, which seems to be a link between every ACDC song ever recorded.

 

Side 2 opens with Shot Down In Flames, a party hard song, which also unfortunately acts as a sign of what was to occur with Bon Scott following the tour for this album. (Also of note: Journey toured with ACDC in 1979, and their live 1981 album Captured is dedicated to his memory.)

 

Get It Hot is also pretty short, and acts as kind of a filler. Mostly Bon just singing about having a pants tent. Ignore.

 

The song "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)" borrowed the title of the band's live album from the previous year and stemmed from Scott's response to a journalist at the Day on the Green festival in July 1978: when asked what they could expect from the band, Scott replied, "Blood". But to be honest, I actually prefer the live version of If You Want Blood that appears on the live album of the same name. If you are interested in seeing a lot of live performances of this album, you should check out the Top Of The Pops performance ACDC did for this album just days before Bon's death.

 

Love Hungry Man is another one of my favorite tracks off this album. The power chords (a standard of ACDC's sound) create the first 15 seconds of awesomeness, made better when Cliff's funky bass and Phil's drums join in, to be joined by Bon singing as gravelly as he ever sounded with ACDC. When asked "What's the worst record you've ever made?", Angus replied, "There's a song on Highway to Hell called 'Love Hungry Man' which I must have written after a night of bad pizza – you can blame me for that." I like it though, and if I ever meet Angus Young (which probably won't happen), I'll tell him I respect his opinion on the song.

 

Night Prowler--ahh, this is as skilled as a closing track can get! Though Bon Scott had no idea that this would be one of his last recordings ever made, he clearly made this one of the most soulful albums ACDC ever put out. The drums could probably go on forever and never bore me, whilst Bon's vocals scream out in a fashion that rivals only Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant. For a band that took their blues influences seriously, this was what no other ACDC album sounded like. It is certainly an album to take on a desert island, that is for sure.

And dig those drums that Phil Lesh played. Too bad him once being arrested for threatening to kill a man prevents his drumming from being taken seriously.

 

Perhaps the album's most infamous song is "Night Prowler", mainly due to its association with serial killer Richard Ramírez. In June 1985, a highly publicized murder case began, revolving around Ramírez, who was responsible for brutal killings in Los Angeles. Nicknamed the "Night Stalker", Ramírez was a fan of AC/DC, particularly "Night Prowler". Police also claimed that Ramirez left an AC/DC hat at one of the crime scenes. During the trial, Ramírez said "Hail Satan" and showed off the pentagram drawn on his palm with the numbers 666 below it. This brought extremely bad publicity to AC/DC, whose concerts and albums faced protests by parents in Los Angeles. On VH1's Behind the Music on AC/DC, the band maintained that the song had been given a murderous connotation by Ramírez, but is actually about a boy sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom at night while her parents are asleep, in spite of lyrics such as "And you don't feel the steel, till it's hanging out your back". The final words spoken by Scott on the song are "Shazbot, na-nu na-nu", phrases from the popular American sitcom, Mork and Mindy, by lead character Mork (a visiting extraterrestrial played by Robin Williams). The phrase closed the album.

 

Angus Young ditched most of his Marshall amps for this album, instead choosing to use the new, state-of-the-art Shaffer Vega Wireless system that had been adopted by other artists such as ELO, Heart, Aerosmith and Kansas.

 

Sadly, during the recording sessions for their next album, which would become 1980's Highway To Hell, Bon Scott died at age 32 from alcohol poisoning in the backseat of a friend's car, though some sources also claim he was using heroin during this time. Brian Johnson eventually replaced him, and as we all know, Back In Black became the third biggest selling album of all time. Almost everybody's parents had that album when it first came out in 1980. I know my parents did.

 

I also hope that this will attract some people who find it interesting how much I know about ACDC.

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57 minutes ago, IMMusicRulz said:

(For an album recorded in 1979, I don't think Malcolm or Angus used any phase shifters on their guitars. They may have used some wah pedals, though.)


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1 hour ago, IMMusicRulz said:

But to be honest, I actually prefer the live version of If You Want Blood that appears on the live album of the same name.


?

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