Top 10 Underrated AC/DC Songs
Since 1974, AC/DC have been cranking out their own signature brand of rock and roll. No one ever sounded quite like them before they appeared, and only pale imitations would follow. There is something special about their sound. From the first riff, you know it’s AC/DC. Like fellow mavericks of sonic assault Motorhead and the Ramones, AC/DC never changed their style, but rather just kept fine tuning their distinct sound over the years. With a catalog as rich as theirs, undoubtedly there are many prizes that have fallen through the cracks to all but the diehard fans. We bring you ten of those lost or underrated gems …
The back half of the ’80s wasn’t the most fertile time for great AC/DC songs, but there are some gems to be found if you know where to look. In the case of 1988’s ‘Blow Up Your Video,’ be sure to hang around after the universally recognized one-two punch of ‘Heatseeker‘ and ‘That’s the Way I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll’ for this swaggering little slice of boogie. If you wanna have a little cross-genre fun, picture the main guitar riff being played instead by a big old R&B horn section. Fits in pretty good with that bass line, right?
‘Stiff Upper Lip’
AC/DC once again called upon brother George Young to handle production chores for ‘Stiff Upper Lip,’ and the results gave a nod to the past, without sounding like a retread. This title cut is a pile-driving rocker in traditional AC/DC style, complete with double, maybe triple, entendre lyrics and an ever-present killer guitar riff steering the ship. Though it charted slightly lower than its predecessor ‘Ballbreaker,’ ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ was warmly embraced by diehard fans.
‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl?’
In the summer of 1974, AC/DC made their presence known on the Australian music scene with this single on the Albert label. Though they would very soon establish their own distinct sound, it is apparent on ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl?’ that they were inspired by the likes of Slade and other glam stompers of the day. The band, including original singer Dave Evans, even donned some glam-inspired attire in the spirit of the era. Evans was not a bad singer, but he lacked the personality the band needed. Enter Bon Scott, who would take the more streetwise elements of Noddy Holder’s vocals with Slade and add a raw-and-rowdy attitude to the max. Scott’s version appeared on the ‘High Voltage’ album (and on the ‘TNT’ album in Australia). Both are great, though Bon’s has the edge.
‘Sink The Pink’
Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Along those same lines, it’s pretty easy to find at least a couple of excellent songs on even the “worst” AC/DC album — which is exactly how many fans categorize ‘Fly on the Wall.’ They can say what they want, we can’t stop playing ‘Shake Your Foundations‘ or ‘Sink the Pink.’ We’ll give the latter the slight edge in this battle of massive sing-a-long choruses. It’s pretty obvious the band thought fans were missing out the first time, too — why else would they include these songs on their first-ever compilation, the following year’s ‘Who Made Who?’
‘Guns For Hire’
By 1983, AC/DC were firmly established as a powerhouse rock ‘n’ roll force, but at the same time, things were a bit unsteady within the band. They felt the production style on the previous ‘For Those About To Rock’ album was moving too far from what they wanted so, with ‘Flick Of The Switch,’ the band decided to produce themselves. The result was a more simplistic, less bombastic sound that, while cherished by many fans, resulted in slower record sales. The album hit No. 15 in the U.S., a fall from the chart topping ‘For Those About To Rock’ and the phenomenon of ‘Back In Black.’ ‘Guns For Hire’ is a straight-ahead rocker of classic AC/DC proportions that has somehow been lost in the shuffle over the years. Following these sessions, drummer Phil Rudd was kicked out of the band, and would not return for a decade due to personal issues — as well as conflict with guitarist Malcolm Young.
The brittle guitar that opens this song in no way prepares the listener for the gutter-scratching raunch that is to follow. The sound the band got on those early albums, with help from producer and brother George Young, still blows away most everything in its path. Particularly on the ‘Let There Be Rock’ album, home to ‘Overdose,’ you can feel the needles on the mixing board bending into the red with each slash of the guitar. The slower headbanging stride here is top shelf stuff!
‘Up To My Neck’
‘Powerage’ is a powerhouse rocker from start to finish, plowing along like a steamroller and never letting up for one moment. For ‘Up To My Neck,’ the lead is too much for one break, so it carries on for two. Bon Scott is his usual charming self here, offering great lyrics, attitude and delivery. The always-dynamic rhythm section is simply second to none when it comes to laying down the groove.
The simplicity of AC/DC is, in part, what has made them so incredible over the years. This barn burner employs a straight-forward riff that drives right into your heart and soul. The rock solid, steady-as-can-be groove makes for a relentless, head-banging good time. Of course, what AC/DC song would be complete without a stellar Angus Young solo? The other cool catch here, is how the maracas come in to build on the rhythm mid song — a simple but highly effective ornament. Bon Scott is on fire, as usual, delivering a confidently snotty vocal, and just listen to Angus’ solo at the end. It borders on psychotic!
‘Walk All Over You’
‘Walk All Over You’ starts with an almost subtle riff that builds each time, ultimately kicking into high gear as the band bursts in. Cleverly, they return to the slow riff for the chorus, but in between, it is 110% full-throttle rock ‘n’ roll. Scott proves once again why he was one of the greats here, while Angus Young does what he does best: whipping out another mind-melting lead break. The band are at an early peak here, as they charge through one of many highlights on the ‘Highway To Hell’ album. The energy these guys always deliver is astounding.
Another from AC/DC’s undeclared masterpiece, ‘Sin City’ has a riff to kill for, great lyrics, amazing performance and attitude to spare. Why this isn’t in heavy rotation on playlists everywhere has always been a mystery. In many ways, it’s one of the most perfect AC/DC songs ever. ‘Back In Black’ may have the sales and ‘Highway To Hell’ may have the legend, but 1978’s ‘Powerage’ is unstoppable.