AC/DC ranked 1-15…
AC/DC is among the most iconic bands in rock and roll history. The ultimate garage band, they have achieved a status few artists are capable of. They have the ability to appeal to fans of most any genre of music without changing their sound. Country fans, pop fans, even R&B and rap fans seem to enjoy AC/DC’s unique feel good, bang-your-head anthems.
Over the span of the band’s four decade career, AC/DC has released a catalog of monster hits which continue to permeate rock radio and pop culture at nearly every level. While the band is slowing down at this point in their career, 2008’s album, Black Ice showed that the band still has gas left in the tank, and riffs left in the guitar. The band spent two years touring for its previous album, and has recently announced that massive world tours of that scale are a thing of the past for the band.
Founding member and guitarist Angus Young recently talked to Classic Rock Magazine about the bands next studio album:
“I’ve been doing some jamming on some song ideas but I do that all the time, as do the rest of the band. We are still working. But we had a long rest between ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ and ‘Black Ice’, so I think we need a couple of years to recuperate and work on it a bit more.”
After two five-year stretches between the band’s more recent albums, and an eight-year stretch between the last two records, it seems the band’s 16th studio album may be a ways away. In the meantime, as AC/DC has always been a favorite summertime jam, it seems appropriate to take a look back and assess the group’s first 15 records.
Which of the band’s 15 studio albums rank highest on this list is arguably dependent on whether you are a fan of the tragically departed Bon Scott, or the longtime torch-bearer, Brian Johnson. The truth is both fit the AC/DC sound perfectly, and Bon would no doubt look down from on high with thumbs or horns raised as he watches Brian and the boys carry on.
1. Back in Black (1980)
The pinnacle of the band’s career. Released just one year after Highway to Hell, AC/DC returned with a new singer and perhaps the perfect rock and roll album. Ten tracks without a weak song in the bunch. You could swap this out with Highway to Hell with no argument, but ultimately this is the band’s most complete record. Best song: “Shoot to Thrill”.
2. Highway to Hell (1979)
One could argue that this the is the number one album without much quarrel. For without Bon Scott’s final table-setting masterpiece there would have been no Back in Black. With monster classics like the seminal title track, “Walk All Over You”, “Girls Got Rhythm”, and basically every track on this release, rock fans simply cannot go wrong here. Best song: “A Touch Too Much”.
3. T.N.T. (1975)
The band’s second Australian release, most of which later appeared on the international release of High Voltage. Take your choice, T.N.T. or the High Voltage re-issue, this is the album that launched AC/DC’s signature sound. Packed with hits like the title cut, “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”, “The Jack”, “Rocker”, “Live Wire”, and “Can I Sit Next To You Girl”. This is an epic release. Best song: “High Voltage”.
4. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
AC/DC’s third album continued to build on the band’s foundation of boogie and blues rock ‘n roll. The album’s title cut is one of the band’s most well-known anthems. Songs like “Big Balls” and “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting ‘Round to be a Millionaire)” are longtime fan favorites. Best song: “Problem Child”.
5. Let There Be Rock (1977)
Another of AC/DC’s essential releases. Their fourth record is another continuation of the hit parade, featuring the epic title track, “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Crabsody in Blue” and “Dog Eat Dog”. Best song: “Whole Lotta Rosie”.
6. For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)
The last of the band’s three albums to be produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, this was the bands highly acclaimed follow-Up to “Back In Black”. While Rolling Stone magazine hailed it as the band’s best effort it lacked the same depth songwriting as the previous two albums. Best song: “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You).
7. Powerage (1978)
This album helped cement the argument that the Bon Scott era of AC/DC was the best. Yet another solid slab of classic, raw, rock ‘n roll. More classic hits here like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation”, “Down Payment Blues” and “Riff Raff”. Best song: “Sin City”.
8. Black Ice (2008)
This album marked a return some of AC/DC‘s most potent songwriting since the late 70s. And why not? They took eight years to make it. Produced by Brendan O’Brien (Velvet Revolver, Incubus, Bruce Springsteen) the band began a return journey to its roots started with 2000’s “Stiff Upper Lip”. Fans were rewarded with 15 tracks, including the hits “Anything Goes” and “Big Jack”. Best song: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train”.
9. Razor’s Edge (1990)
This one marked a successful return to the bands heyday with the monster hits “Thunderstruck” and “Money Talks”. However, much of the album was loaded down with filler tracks beyond those two songs. The record does contain their bluesy Christmas romp, “Mistress for Christmas”. Best song: “Thunderstruck”.
10. Blow Up Your Video (1988)
AC/DC landed two more major hits to their arsenal with this record, with “Heatseeker” and “That’s the Way I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll”. German sleaze metal outfit Kissin’ Dynamite took their name from one of the album’s songs. “Best song “Heatseeker”.
11. Stiff Upper Lip (2000)
After what was arguably a dead decade for the band and rock ‘n roll in general, AC/DC stormed back with a very strong record to kick off the millennium. The album launched three hit singles including the title track, “Safe in New York City”, and “Satellite Blues”. Best song: “Meltdown”.
12. Fly On The Wall (1985)
Released at the height of 80s excess, AC/DC churned out the hits “Sink the Pink”, “Danger” and “Shake Your Foundations”. Unfortunately, most of the record suffered from songwriting weaknesses. Best song: “Sink the Pink”.
13. Ballbreaker (1995)
This record featured the return of original drummer Phil Rudd who remains with the band to this day. This is perhaps the bands bluesiest effort. Released at the height of the grunge era it did not fare well in radio but launched the hits “Hard as a Rock”, “Cover You in Oil”, and “Hail Caesar”. Best song: “Boogie Man”.
14. Flick of the Switch (1983)
The band’s ninth studio effort is arguably its biggest flop. The guys attempted to employ a more stripped-down style, and drummer Phil Rudd was fired during the recording. Best song: “Guns for Hire”.
15. High Voltage (1975)
Not to be confused with the re-released international version a year later which featured several songs off of T.N.T. This was the band’s first Australian release and featured a handful of decent tracks but none that really carried the band’s full signature style that fans have come to love. Best song: “Little Lover”.
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