AC/DC: The Final Salute – Back In Black & For Those About To Rock We Salute You
With Bon suddenly gone, few expected AC/DC to come back in such an explosive way with their next two albums.
At the end of the day, it’s not the how or the why that made Back In Black such a monumental release, but the what. Or in this case, the ‘what the fuck’? That’s to say, it’s not the tortuous story behind its making, but the sound of it, the sheer scale of it, that makes Black In Black what it is.
From the moment that tolling bell that opens side one begins to chime ominously, followed, on the fifth chime, by that body-being-dragged-from-the-river guitar, all the way across dark thunderclouds to the very end of the album, when Brian Johnson announces that rock’n’roll is ‘just rock’n’roll’ and the guitars and drums stub themselves out like a chewed-up cigarette. That feeling, that fuck-you blam-blam-blam.
Most of it is down to the production by Mutt Lange. Having already taken AC/DC’s bruised blues-and-rock street vibe and sculpted it into the arena-filling, radio-friendly Highway To Hell, Mutt went one notch higher – not to 11, but to infinity.
As Mutt’s fellow South African Kevin Shirley –who, as producer for such mega-acts as Zeppelin, Maiden and Aerosmith, would know – says of Back In Black: “It’s my all-time favourite album, next to Miles Davis and maybe a Beethoven violin concerto. It’s certainly the best rock record that’s ever been made. There’s just an incredible architecture to it. It’s the benchmark record for sound. The production on that record is so melodic, it just sounds so good. And it’s so well structured that it crosses the genres.”