Back in Black, AC / DC‘s seventh album was out today, July 25, 40 years ago.
In fact, it was 1980 when one of the most known, influential and incredible albums in history was released. Put on your headphones and keep reading, we will talk about music one again, after talking about Ian Curtis last week. Today, however, we are talking about a record, which alone changed the cards on the table with riff shots.
Back in Black: background
How AC/DC were born
About AC/DC there is not much to say, they are one of the most famous bands of all time. The hard rock group formed in Sydney in 1973 but almost all of its members are British natives.
In 1977 AC / DC, tired of the somewhat Australian provincial fight music scene, moved to England, where they were “embraced” by both British punk and hard rockers. When the album Highway to Hell was released in 1979, accompanied by a world tour, the band met with success.
Bon Scott’s death
Shortly after the end of the world tour, the saddest day in the history of AC / DC took place. Frontman Bon Scott went out to London on the evening of February 18, 1980, to have a drink with friends. Alistair Kinnear was with him, an acquaintance of Scott’s ex-girlfriend. The couple took Kinnear’s Renault to the Music Machine in Camden Town, and the following morning Bon Scott was found dead inside.
It turned out that the death was due to an acute alcohol intoxication.
The surviving members of AC / DC – the Young brothers, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd – were shocked to hear of Scott’s untimely demise.
Scott’s body was taken to Fremantle, Australia for burial. At the funeral, his father Chick took the Young brothers aside and urged them to continue rocking. “It was Bon’s father who more or less convinced us to go back and rock,” says Angus. “He said to me and Malcolm: ‘Listen, Bon has always loved what you guys were doing. It was the first time I saw him really happy with what he was doing. I’m sure if something had happened to one of you guys , Bon would have liked to go on. You should go out and find someone, and go on. “
And so came Brian Johnson and, with him, the therapy to the discomfort period that the band was experiencing.
Back in Black: the origin
“Do you know what the first thing Angus and Malcolm said to me when I joined this band?” Brian Johnson stated in an interview. “They said,” Do you mind if we hurt your feelings? Because if you join this band you will be beaten by every fucking journalist since we left Australia. “Johnson replied promptly:” Well, I still have to take sticks for replacing Bon Scott, and you just had a big hit with Highway to Hell . “
And so began the recording sessions for Back in Black, at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas. To me, in all honesty, the Bahamas seems to be an excellent choice to record an album … I took note dear AC / DC!
In reality, not all that glitters is gold because the recordings in the Bahamas proved somewhat difficult due to the tropical storms that led to a power outage. Considering the name of the band “Alternate current / Direct current“, there should have been no such problems! In addition it seems that the band found itself the protagonist of some nice gag with locals equipped with machetes, ready to cook our musicians for dinner!
However, given some reasons, including the latter threat, the only thing the band could do (obviously when there was electricity) was to work, and so did everyone.
The meaning Back in Black
How Back in Black album was born we have just explained, we invite you to read the content in the next paragraph but we have to answer some questions first. Why is Back in Black so called? What does this title mean? What about the album cover?
The band had the idea of the title before writing any song, even though Malcolm Young had already had the main guitar riff in mind for years so that he often played it as a warm up. After Bon Scott’s death, Angus Young decided that their first album without him should be called Back In Black in his homage, and they wrote the song of the same name around that phrase.
Here is Angus Young’s comment on the album title: “We knew we would call the album Back in Black even before going to the Bahamas. Malcolm and I agreed that we wanted a black cover, as a reference to Bon “We didn’t want some sort of a whining commemoration, because Bon wasn’t a whining boy; we thought this was probably the best way to pay him homage.”
Another curious thing about the title, Back in Black. It also means in some way, always speaking of colors “not being red anymore”. In fact, the figures for overseas accounts turn black when they are positive, and red when they are negative. Going back to black in this case is not just about mourning, but it is an expression that means “putting things right, even economically”. The same meaning of Black is that which is given on Black Friday, which traditionally was a positive day for companies when customers spent the money received the day before, that is, Thanksgiving.
The album tracks
“Back in Black” was the first song on the album of the same name to be finished, going through several stages before getting the right sound of guitar and drums. The intro of this song is also known by the grains of sand … of the Bahamas!
The opening song of the album is not Back in Black, but the equally famous “Hells Bells“. This song also reflected the band’s slightly black mood, as if they had eventually found a way to release all the anger and frustration they had channeled following Bon’s death. The dramatic effect in the song is also given by the sound of the four-ton bell recorded later by engineer Tony Platt in a war memorial in Leicestershire, England. A curiosity about the bell is that the band had made a replica of that of the album but a little less heavy. And why? Because a one and a half ton bell is brought on tour and still used live by the band today more easily than a four ton one!
The album also contains the famous Shoot to Thrill and You Shook Me All Night Long, before ending with Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution, the only song to have been composed in the Bahamas.
Back in Black success
The album was released July 25, 1980 and Back In Black got to position no. 4 in the US charts. The album had the power to immortalize AC / DC among the divinities of music and to give the band enormous economic success, which continues today.
While many diehard AC / DC fans still prefer Bon Scott’s recorded voice to Johnson’s, others have widely accepted the latter as an invaluable part of the AC / DC family. The credit is due to Back in Black, which today turns 40 today.
Angus Young has repeatedly stressed how much this album has helped the band and its fans move forward. The greatest ostracism was encountered in Australia, more accustomed to Bon Scott than the others, but then everyone understood Brian Johnson’s effort and the tribute given to the missing artist.
Always Angus Young also commented on the success of the album: “it wasn’t until about a year and a half after the release that we realized how great it was. I had been in Australia for a while with my family and when I arrived in England, one of the guys who worked for us said, “You know, Back in Black sold a million and a half copies?” And I said, “Oh yes?” And he replied: “And only in Los Angeles.”
Back in Black, forty years after its release, continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies per year. An undeniable testament of the healing power of music, for those who make it and for those who listen to it.