Angus Young’s blistering lead guitar and manic energy may be the focus of attention in AC/DC, but the band’s foundation was built upon the inimitable and dependable rhythm guitar of his older brother. Simply put, AC/DC will always be Malcolm Young’s band: His talent, vision and tenacity defined the straightforward and unpretentious sound behind 180 million albums sold and bazillions of satisfied concert-going customers over the years.
Evan as AC/DC has pushed forward following Malcolm's death in 2017, the guitarist's influence continues to be present in the band. His fingerprints are all over the group's best work, including these Top 10 Malcolm Young AC/DC Songs.
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"From: ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ (1976)
This classic AC/DC Malcolm Young song boasts the sort of menacing, driving riff that perfectly exemplifies his precise role within the band’s hard rock hot rod: which is, its engine. We could quit right here and you’d already know everything you needed to about Malcolm’s crucial contributions but, don’t worry, we won’t!
"Money Talks"From: ‘Thunderstruck’ (1990)
This later-day favorite from the multi-platinum Razor’s Edge LP, on the other hand, shows a far more flexible and accessible side of Malcolm Young’s six-string bedrock: He was equally efficient at weaving around the catchy melodies plucked by baby brother Angus Young – or hammering each chorus home with ringing power chords.
"Walk All Over You"From: ’Highway to Hell’ (1979)
Speaking of ringing power chords … the next entry in our list of Top 10 AC/DC Malcolm Young Songs teases listeners with slow, ominous strums before unleashing one of the band’s patented galloping riff machines. Yes, Chuck Berry may have taught AC/DC how to duck-walk, but AC/DC taught everyone else how to "Walk All Over You."
"Soul Stripper"From: ‘High Voltage’ (Australian Edition) (1975)
Now, before you go and take umbrage at this obscure oldie that we’ve rescued from the depths of AC/DC’s first Australian LP, be aware that "Soul Stripper" was one of just a handful of AC/DC songs featuring Malcolm Young on lead guitar. You read right: that’s Mal trading lead licks with Angus beginning around the song’s four-minute mark. Is that cool or what?
"What Do You Do for Money Honey"From ‘Back in Black’ (1980)
Let’s head back to Malcolm Young’s bread and butter, though: the art of rhythm guitar, which the diminutive Aussie elevated to unequaled heights throughout AC/DC’s crowning masterpiece, Back in Black. Indeed, every one of its songs could top our list, but for some reason, we were drawn to the elastic start-stop precision of the awesome "What Do You Do for Money Honey."
"Touch Too Much"From: ’Highway to Hell’ (1979)
That same imagination for placing twisting, turning and churning metronome riffs behind Angus and singer Bon Scott is what made AC/DC’s rhythm section (completed by Cliff Williams and most often Phil Rudd) simply impossible to beat. (Oh, that bridge beginning around 2:30!) Add the savvy commercial instincts producer ‘Mutt’ Lange, and its no wonder "Touch Too Much" remains an all-time AC/DC classic.
"You Ain’t Got a Hold on Me"From: ‘High Voltage’ (Australian Edition) (1975)
Here’s another typically underrated obscurity from AC/DC’s Australian debut, and another rare and priceless glimpse of Malcolm Young: lead guitarist. Only this time, Angus keeps his twitchy fingers under wraps for the duration so that Mal’s admittedly less flashy, but extremely tasteful and, not surprisingly, sweetly bluesy soloing style can take all the glory.
"Riff Raff"From: ‘Riff Raff’ (1978)
Better hang onto your hat now, though, because AC/DC songs don’t come any more aggressive or electrifying than the normally understated Powerage album’s official freak-out moment, "Riff Raff." And, just like the title suggests, this pedal-to-the-metal hard rocker finds both Malcolm and Angus peeling off deft fingerings in between cathartic power chords with abandon. AC/DC defined.
"Overdose"From: ‘Let There Be Rock’ (1977)
For all of AC/DC’s untouchable hard-rock force and bluster, every diehard fan knows that their genius is often revealed by less overwhelming, dynamic diverse album cuts like the masterful, terminally underrated "Overdose." Here, Malcolm Young’s rhythm guitar achieved a rolling groove of absolutely hypnotic proportions, steadily building up tension and momentum until the final release is as rewarding as that of any song in AC/DC’s canon.
"Let There Be Rock"From: ‘Let There Be Rock’ (1977)
Finally, although we’ve probably managed to a few surprises along the way, we felt there was simply no better capper for our list of the best AC/DC Malcolm Young Songs than the iconic, explosive, rampaging anthem known as "Let There Be Rock." Even better, we bring you this epic juggernaut backed by a special clip featuring Malcolm Young’s isolated rhythm guitar track, in all its raw, distorted, yet always preternaturally precise glory. If the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame could bronze a rhythm guitar track, this would be the ultimate expression of the form.