Top 10 AC/DC Post-‘Back in Black’ Songs
When a band makes an album as successful and ubiquitous as AC/DC's Back in Black, which is one of the bestselling records in history, its subsequent catalog can’t help but be overshadowed.
So our goal here is to set this cosmic imbalance to rights by calling some much-deserved attention on these Top 10 AC/DC Post-Back in Black Songs. Just because we’ll never love ‘em nearly as much as their perfect older brothers doesn’t mean we don’t love 'em just the same.
And with news in 2016 that Johnson will no longer be singing with the group due to medical issues, this may serve as the definitive list of his performances with AC/DC.
AC/DC have wisely rarely deviated from their successful, no-fuss hard rock formula over the course of their remarkable, five-decade career, and their penchant for cheeky double entendres has remained similarly constant, no matter who was singing the songs. Case in point, the smirk-inducing title track from their 14th album, which followed Stiff Upper Lip all the way to the top of the Mainstream Rock chart in 2000.
The next song in our list of the Top 10 AC/DC Post-Back in Black Songs heralded the band’s long awaited return following an eight-year recording layoff (though they toured like champs in the interim) and scored another No. 1 rock single for the group. This time, instead of taking the "Highway to Hell," the guys rode the "Rock ‘n’ Roll Train" “right off the track” with as anthemic a slab of mid-paced hard rock as they’ve ever produced.
This career comeback album was chock full of top-shelf AC/DC nuggets and yielded a string of popular singles such as "Thunderstruck" (more on that later), "Are You Ready?" and "Money Talks," but what we really want right now is a "Mistress for Christmas." Hey, what can we say? The holiday season is almost upon us! In all seriousness, though, there’s just an extra layer of lovable AC/DC grit about this tune to go with Brian Johnson’s naughty rhymes and gravel-throated Billy Gibbons impression.
The second half of the '80s was a tough time for AC/DC, as they fought to maintain their identity amid the rise of MTV and the resulting paradigm shift rewarding image over music, as often as not. You could almost say that war had been declared on classic rock, so it was only natural that AC/DC would join the battle with some heavy firepower of their own, in the form of 1988‘s suitably explosive "Heatseeker." And call us crazy, but is it any coincidence that both the aforementioned hair bands and the Berlin Wall would come crashing down to earth within a few years?
For Those About to Rock’s third song delivered a comparatively laid-back change-up for listeners still reeling from the title track’s cacophonous cannon blasts. It was also the album’s first single and, though it fell a little flat compared to Back in Black’s recent chart triumphs, "Let’s Get it Up"’s naturally infectious chorus, Brian Johnson’s unashamedly filthy lyrics and Angus Young’s oft-overlooked guitar solo (showcasing him at his bluesy, lyrical best) guaranteed its presence among the Top 10 AC/DC Post-Back in Black Songs.
While some folks may primarily remember "Hard as a Rock" as Beavis & Butt-head’s unofficial theme song (remember this made-to-order intro clip form the 1998 tour?), Ballbreaker’s signature tune boasted all of the lovable hallmarks of vintage AC/DC. We’re talking big guitar chords, bigger sexual innuendos, and giant stage props (in this case, a wrecking ball) - all shored up by the authentic, ‘70s-inspired production aesthetic brought by Rick Rubin to this thoroughly excellent album.
AC/DC’s second foray into soundtrack work via 1993’s Rubin-produced "Big Gun" fared much better than their first: 1986’s uncharacteristically poppy "Who Made Who" - even though both movies stunk it up at the box office. But you certainly couldn’t blame this on the bombastic hard rocker; a song so powerful not even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo could ruin its music video. And thankfully, AC/DC’s pairing with the blockbuster Iron Man movie franchise has put an end to this fluke soundtrack jinx, once and for all.
Sticking with the “gun” theme comes this lone and clear standout from 1983’s somewhat disappointing Flick of the Switch album. Bottom line: "Guns for Hire" remains one the most electrifying numbers of the Brian Johnson era, and it proved to be a spectacular concert opener throughout the ensuing tour, when cleverly￼￼￼￼ choreographed spotlights found Angus Young in the darkness, helping his staccato blasts of six-string frenzy bring audiences to a boil before his band mates even hit the stage.
The aptly named "Thunderstruck" did more than any other song to reignite AC/DC’s flagging career during the post-Back in Black doldrums, ushering in the new decade with a bona fide worldwide smash and a Top 5 U.S. chart placing on its way to becoming a concert staple ever since. All this in spite of relying on a hypnotic hammer-on lick capable of inducing crippling carpal tunnel syndrome upon any guitarist who attempts it … any guitarist not named Angus Young, that is.
And the No. 1 choice in our list of the Top 10 AC/DC Post-Back in Black Songs could be no other than "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)." Any disagreement? We didn’t think so. Simply put, this universally acclaimed hard rock epic -- famously punctuated by life-size (but thankfully blanks-firing) cannons -- was just the kind of forceful statement AC/DC needed to make in their bid to follow-up to the world- conquering magnum opus that helped necessitate this list to begin with. And that it did, and continues to do so unto the present day, as an infallible, concert-closing spectacle guaranteed to thrill fans every night AC/DC takes to the stage, somewhere across the globe.