Is AC/DC’s Back In Black the greatest phoenix from the flames album ever? That’s a rhetorical question by the way – of course it is. After the death of iconic frontman Bon Scott, the band quickly regrouped, brought in the inimitable Brian Johnson and became the biggest band in the world thanks to these 10 songs. No one can come close to the records greatness, but it hasn’t stopped these brave souls trying.
Hells Bells – Hayseed Dixie
Nashville, Tennessee’s Hayseed Dixie have made a career from their rooting-tooting bluegrass versions of hard rock and heavy metal classics, and they obviously nicked their name from AC/DC too. This cover of the iconic opening track from Back In Black works by being deliberately as far away from the original as it possible could be. The main highlight is the triangle ‘ping’ that replaces the famous ‘bong’ of the tower bell that opens the album.
Shoot To Thrill – Halestorm
If there is a modern act that perfectly fit the covering an AC/DC classic then Halestorm are that band. Lzzy Hale’s honey-soaked wail and her bandmates ability to channel rock and rolls most glorious era has seen them tipped to become future festival headliners, their no-nonsense cover of Back In Black’s glorious second track is absolutely on the money.
What You Do For Money, Honey – Vitamin String Quartet
There’s something about AC/DC that makes other artists of various other genres want to get involved. We’ve spoken about Hayseed Dixie, but also see Richard Cheese’s lounge jazz and Steve N Seagulls countryfied version of various DC classics for more evidence. One of the oddest exhibit of this phenomenon though comes from LA classical collective Vitamin String Quartet, who actually managed an entire album mining the Australians back catalogue (named Back In Baroque, of course), you wouldn’t think that the high-class sound of classical music and rough and ready rock merge too well, but this sweeping cover of What You Do For Money, Honey shows a whole new side to the bands compositions.
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Givin’ The Dog A Bone – American Dog
One of the least subtle songs in history, Givin’ The Dog A Bone is not only a thinly veiled ode to the joy of oral sex, it’s a double-quick time charge through some seriously dirty rock and roll. In 2010 Columbus, Ohio trio American Dog submitted their version for our sister mag Classic Rock’s Back In Black tribute to celebrate the albums 30th birthday. The results feature far more country twang and slide guitar than the original, whilst losing none of the originals bawdy charm.
Let Me Put My Love Into You – Jettblack
Clearly raised on a diet of AC/DC, Kiss and Guns N Roses, the hard rock band from High Wycombe never truly hit the heights of their influences, but Jettblack had a decent enough career all the same. The fact that they could take on the might of the stomping Let Me Put My Love Into You and do it justice is proof of that. Giving the song a slightly more metallic crunch and a guffer vocal performance from frontman Will Stapleton, Jettblack do a damn good job here.
Back In Black – Skindred
Their mix of modern metal and reggae might seem a world away from AC/DC’s old school rock and roll stylings, but actually Skindred have far more in common with the Young brothers than you might think. Namely, they’re one of the only other bands in existence that can match AC/DC’s goodtime party vibes. Their cover of the title track of this record is musically fairly straightforward, but frontman Benji Webbe steals the show here by giving Brian Johnson’s vocals a scatted Rasta makeover.
You Shook Me All Night Long – Quireboys
Title track aside You Shook Me All Night Long might be the most well-known song on Back In Black, backed up by the fact that it has been covered by a bewildering cast that includes Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Anastacia and... Roseanne Barr. Yes, really. Anyway, best not to even acknowledge those versions exist and instead concentrate on this excellent reinterpretation by the Quireboys. Adding an acoustic steel guitar, some lush female backing vocals and a slightly jazzier rhythm section, this is within touching distance of the originals quality.
Have A Drink On Me – My Ruin
Tairrie B made her name firstly as a rapper and then as the shouty and furiously angry leader of Manhole, Tura Satana and My Ruin, so not the first person you’d think of when it comes to rock and roll drinking songs. Despite this, My Ruins 2010 cover of this snake hipped rocker is actually great, again guitarist Mick Murphy does the sensible thing by playing that riff pretty straight, but Tarrie’s ultra-aggressive vocal delivery gives the song sharper teeth.
Shake A Leg – John Corabi & Bruce Kulick
An all-star lineup of Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Pat Torpey, former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi and journeyman guitarist Bob Kulick were formed solely to contribute to 1998’s Thunderbolt: A Tribute To AC/DC album. The result is a squealing glammed up version of Shake A Leg, which is full of the kind of histrionics that the Young Brothers would almost certainly turn their nose up at, but it’s so gloriously OTT that you can’t help but be seduced by it.
Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution – Six Feet Under
We’ve tried to hold out from mentioning this as long as we could, but Chris Barnes meat’n’potatoes death metal crew Six Feet Under did release a risible album called Graveyard Classics Volume 2 (volumes 1,3 and 4 are available for sadists) where they “reimagined” Back In Black in its entirety. Like the rest of the record, this cover of Back In Black’s closing number suffers from weak production, Barnes’ ill-fitting cookie monster vocals and is frankly, genuinely, hilariously bad, but just to salute their sheer persistence we’ve included this cover. Nice try, we guess.