AC/DC - Back In Black
Old School !! Released July 25/80 (Atlantic)
July 28th, 1980 was the date for what was the most violent concert this bedraggled show-goer has ever attended. In what seemed more like a riotous biker convention than a rock concert, AC/DC was supporting its brand-spanking-new Back In Black album at Toronto's famed Maple Leaf Gardens. A bell descended from the ceiling to begin the show and what seemed like a roadie with a Newsboy cap started hitting it with a hammer ... only then to take up the mic afterwards. Oh, we all thought, that's the new singer!
Then all hell broke loose. Fights started breaking out at the front of the stage between different fan factions. We're talking knock em', drag 'em out battles, not your normal pit fare ... and this continued throughout the whole concert, at the beginning and end of each and every song. Not sure how my bro and I survived the evening as we were smack dab in the middle of all the action stage centre. After the gig we looked at each other, checking for any injuries, laughing at the bloodshed of it all when we turned around to see the first ten rows of chairs in splinters. We survived the war zone!
So, in retrospect, was Back In Black worth the excessive violence that it inspired that night? Historically speaking, the answer would have to be a resounding yes, the release going on to sell some 50 million copies. However, personally, the album has always been a bit of a let down compared to the three AC/DC albums that preceded it.
Sure, there was some amazing guitar-based heft here ('Shoot To Thrill', 'Giving The Dog A Bone' and 'Shake A Leg'), along with the emotional 'Hell's Bells' and title track which gave nods to the recently sadly deceased Bon Scott. However, Back In Black didn't (and still doesn't) live up to the blitzkrieg of Let There Be Rock or the song writing of the sublime Powerage. Let's face it, 'Let Me Put My Love Into You' and 'Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution' ain't in the same stratosphere as the rest of the release. Sure, it's a great album, but too inconsistent to lay claim to the classic 10/10 rating to these ears.