It’s been 37 years since this album changed the name of the industry and is still going as strong as ever. There’s not a rock fan in this world who has never heard of AC/DC or haven’t yet experienced that deafening musical strength “Back in Black” carries within.
We all know the facts – AC/DC lost their frontman Bon Scott in the beginning of 1980. The decision on whether to continue as a band or not had to be taken (and it had to be taken quickly). Following up the tragic death of the voice and face of the band, AC/DC were facing numerous difficulties and the thought of quitting wasn’t that far actually. Newly-recruited frontman, Brian Johnson was also dealing with many obstacles as the new vocalist. Things were shaky there for a while BUT thanks to one brilliant producer, famous for his precision and obsession with achieving the perfect sound, AC/DC crafted a sound that ended up bringing “Back in Black” the “second-best selling album of all time” title (the first is, of course, MJ’s “Thriller”.) That’s right, I’m talking about the influential producer Mutt Lange who stepped in with brand new approaches and guided the birth of “Back in Black” – an album that perfectly captured the electrifying energy, astonishing technical and lyrical arrangements and a new and reborn AC/DC, ready to take over the world. The album was released in 1980 and it quickly became their most critically respected album. It spawned 4 huge singles – “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Hells Bells”, “Back in Black” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”, all of which redefined hard rock music and left a mark that can never be erased!
Whatever I say about this album would be totally useless. Why? Well, because if rock&roll was a kingdom, this album would be its prince. Everyone loves it, overplayed or not; everyone sings along with anthems like “Back in Black” or “Have a Drink on Me”. Here’s to 37 more years!
What is your favorite track? Personally, I gotta go with “Have a Drink on Me” or the title song. Hearing those opening riffs is a moment of epiphany for every young rock fan out there…
“Back in Black”
“Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”
“You Shook Me All Night Long”
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When we think of AC/DC’s long music career and their enormous catalogue, probably the first record that comes to our minds is “Back in Black”. This ultimate blockbuster not only changed the game for the band by turning them into international rockstars, but became the second best-selling album of all time with around 50 million copies sold worldwide! Can you imagine the strength of impact this pure hard rock wave had on the world? I wasn’t born at that time but I can still feel it today. How can you top the success of rock anthems such as “Back in Black”, “Hells Bells” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”? It’s indeed quite the task… The bar was set too high and everyone was curious to see how can AC/DC come up with something even better than that…
In 1981, AC/DC went on a new journey as it was time to look ahead and make some new music. “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” is the album that followed up to their highly successful “Back in Black”. The record couldn’t match the numbers of “Back in Black”, however their winning streak most definitely continued. With phenomenal tracks such as the quintessential rock anthem “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” and the massive hit single “Let’s Get It Up”, AC/DC won the #1 spot on the USA charts. The effect of the album was quite evident, despite always been compared to their previous one. The record has its strong and weak points, however one thing is for sure – it’s indeed one of their greatest albums of all time and I often say that it can easily match “Back in Black”.
The mastermind behind the record is Mutt Lange – a producer with extraordinary abilities, I admire with all my heart and soul. It’s his third and final collaboration with AC/DC, unfortunately.
Brian Johnson was already well accustomed to the new band and things were working out quite naturally for them, as we can hear on the album.
Let’s talk music…
For Those About to Rock We Salute You
Released:November 23, 1981 Recorded:May – September 1981 in Paris Genre:Hard Rock, Rock, Blues Rock Length:40:10 Label:Albert / Atlantic Records Producer(s):Robert John “Mutt” Lange Singles: “Let’s Get It Up”, “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” Personnel:Brian Johnson – lead vocals; Angus Young – lead guitar; Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, co-lead guitar; Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals; Phil Rudd – drums, percussion
1. For Those About To Rock ( We Salute You ) 2. Put The Finger On You 3. Let’s Get It Up 4. Inject The Venom 5. Snowballed 6. Evil Walks 7. C.O.D. 8. Breaking The Rules 9. Night Of The Long Knives 10. Spellbound
In comparison with “Back in Black”, “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” grabs the ear with its laid back, carefree and a much friendlier vibe which was probably a direct reflection of the state of the band at that time. After the phenomenal success they just had, it was quite obvious that they were not as hungry or pushy as before. For them, this album was a celebration of their triumph.
On “For Those About To Rock We Salute You”, AC/DC effortlessly achieve a perfect balance between their typical fierce sound and a more relaxing, radio-friendly feel. It’s must less commercial and heavier which directly ensured their place on the airwaves. The band moved a little bit further away from their punk infused grounds into a more mid-tempo AOR album. However, they did manage to keep that original, “AC/DC-typical” addictive sound we fans love and are so accustomed to.
AC/DC is not exactly the first band that comes to your mind when you think of thought-provoking lyrics. This album doesn’t quite impress us with stunning words, however one think it does is showing us how hard they can hit hard and how easily they can blow the roof off the place. With “For Those About To Rock We Salute You”, I feel like the band presented a more refined technical skills and Brian Johnson was definitely at his top game.
The finest moments of the record would have to be the title track – “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” and the rhythmical and extremely catchy “Let’s Get It Up”, “Inject the Venom” and “I Put The Finger On You”. Plenty of cool verses, crazy guitar riffs and memorable shouts on all of those tunes, however I feel like except the title track, no other song could stand out from one another. Unfortunately, the finest moments of the album end with those four songs. The following tunes doesn’t really inspire with exceptional musicianship or outstanding delivery. The flaws could be easily spotted as we go from one song to the next one. Surprisingly, however, I believe this album possesses a very important characteristic – the more you play the tracks, the more you enjoy them.
AC/DC hit as hard as they can right from the beginning. The title track is the ultimate rock anthem that changed the world. The monstrous “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” is an absolute concert staple and the band’s greatest trademark! The song is simply one of AC/DC’s finest accomplishments and a song that can’t but put you in an instant terrific mood! I’m quite fond of the intro that slowly but steadily builds up your excitement. Not to mention Brian’s high growls and impeccable vocal delivery…Just listen…
Stand up and be counted for what you are about to receive We are the dealers We’ll give you everything you need Hail hail to the good times Cos rock has got the right of way We ain’t no legends ain’t no cause We’re just livin’ for today For those about to rock, we salute you For those about to rock, we salute you…
The following three tracks didn’t perform quite as well as the title track. They all have similar characteristics and impress with a very lively, catchy and enjoyable formula. I am especially fond of “Inject the Venom” which really gives me quite the chills…
No mercy for the bad if they want it No mercy for the bad if they plead No mercy for the bad if they need it No mercy from me Tell no truth an’ tell no lies Cross your heart and hope to die Never give what you can’t take back Scratch like a cat If you inject your venom It’ll be your last attack…
Loose lips sink ships So come aboard for a pleasure trip It’s high tide so let’s ride The moon is risin’ and so am I I’m gonna get it up Never gonna let it up Cruisin’ on the seven seas A pirate of my lovin’ needs I’ll never go down Never go down…
I put the finger on you, yeah My hands all outta control I can’t stop it gettin’ down on you It’s movin’ of its own accord I got fire in my finger tips Radiate it all to you I can’t control it Can’t even hold it…
Overall, “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” is a very fine album which unfortunately is quite underrated and will always be compared to “Back in Black”. I enjoy the friendlier vibe and the more refined and natural sounds, however I do wish they put a little bit more effort and try to not play it so safe. I feel like the album sold so many copies due to the huge title track. What happens after it, however, is just a bit unsettling. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the album, however the songs just progressively become less and less interesting. Regardless, I do love those four tracks and listen to them quite often… Cheers!
Axl Rose appeared on camera for the first time with his new AC/DC bandmates. Prior to their concert in Lisbon, the band released a video, inviting people to see the show and expressing their enthusiasm and excitement about it.
“Lisbon, here we come,” says Young. “We’re really excited to be here in Portugal. We’re here to give you a great rock show, so we hope to see you all there.”
“Absolutely,” adds Rose. “We’re very excited to be there.”
Update: Angus, Cliff and Axl on Brian Johnson’s departure.
In a recent interview with BBC 6 Music, Axl also revealed: “I’m not here in any way out of any disrespect to Brian. I can’t take anything away from his singing at all. He’s a great singer, and it’s really challenging to sing it. I’m just trying to do it justice for the fans,” says Axl.