The Axl Rose-fronted AC/DC are about to kick off their tour in Europe. But forgot the controversy – we’ve canvassed the biggest names in rock, from Slash and Alice Cooper to members of Soundgarden, Judas Priest and more to pick the Aussie legends’ most greatest ever songs. For those about to rock, here’s part two…
20. Stiff Upper Lip
The title track from the band’s 2000 album showed the Young brothers to be no strangers to smut and innuendo: ‘Now I warn you ladies, I shoot from the hip/ I was born with a stiff, a stiff upper lip.’ What can they mean?
Don Barnes (.38 Special): ‘Like a dog in a howl, I bite everything!’ When the band comes crashing in on that explosive intro of Stiff Upper Lip, it encapsulates everything that rock is supposed to be about. The tension that Angus has ramped up with his muted guitar intro drives right into the band’s monster four on the floor stomp. I’ve got a big bang system in my house that I turn up to 11 just to feel the crash and attitude of what every little kid always dreamed about.
19. Let There Be Rock
Awesome title track of the band’s fourth album, the song lays bare the band’s philosophy about rock music and where it came from. The centrepiece of AC/DC’s stage show ever since.
Danny Bowes (Thunder): I saw AC/DC at Wembley Stadium when I wasn’t very old. It was a lot of beers ago and I can’t remember the exact year, but I remember AC/DC very well. The Who were headlining, and there were a few bands on the bill. AC/DC were on in the afternoon. They completely stole the show, and I have a vivid memory of Bon Scott carrying Angus on his shoulders into the crowd while he played the guitar solo. The Who were as dull as dishwater by comparison, and I loved The Who. Let There Be Rock always reminds me of that show, every single time I hear it, and that’s how it should be, that’s the power of a great live band. It has great melody, huge drama, adrenaline-fuelled excitement, oh and a fuck-right-off guitar riff. Marvellous.
The pounding title track of the band’s second album was an early indication that the band’s name was derived from raw, electric power, rather than a hint at bisexuality, as some early Australia commentators suggested at the time.
Jean Paul Gaster (Clutch): Malcolm Young’s rhythm guitar, along with the four-on-the-floor kick, makes for a real deep groove. When the snare drum finally comes in, it sounds so heavy. There are great lyrics here, too. Bon Scott could say anything and you would believe it. Nobody comes close to matching his tone or delivery. The same can be said for Angus’ leads. The best players are the one who can pay homage to the tradition without losing their own identity. Angus does with ease. Then there’s that weirdo free jazz ending. What’s that about? These records are timeless. Killer production too!
17. What’s Next To The Moon
An aggressive and somewhat ambiguous lyric from Bon Scott, telling the tale of a man taking retribution against his woman before getting nabbed. Only ever performed three times live, on the Stiff Upper Lip tour.
Brent Hinds (Mastodon): What’s Next To The Moon from the Powerage album is one of those songs that bring back great memories, and because of that it’s my favourite.
16. Touch Too Much
An early indication of the production technique of Mutt Lange, who oversaw Highway To Hell, and proof that AC/DC have always been able to pen a damn catchy pop tune.
Eric Singer (Kiss): Touch Too Much is a classic with Bon Scott and reminds me of why I always have loved this band. Classic riff, four on the floor drum beats and always a chorus that you can sing along to.
15. Walk All Over You
In Bon Scott’s eyes, one of the closest things AC/ DC got to a love song: _‘Take off your heels and let down your hair/ Paradise ain’t that far from here.’ _
Tracii Guns (LA Guns): Walk All Over You, from Highway To Hell, is the sexiest rock song ever, from the riff to the lyrics, it’s dirty.
14. Big Balls
With tongue firmly in cheek, Bon Scott’s wordplay runs riot on this chucklesome ode to all things testicular. You can almost see him grinning his way through the line ‘But when they’re held for pleasure they’re the balls that I like best.’
Jim Bonfanti (The Raspberries): I love the double-entendre lyrics, and the way Bon sings it with a touch of sleaze in his voice.
Hirsh Gardner (New England): We were lucky enough to do some shows with them on Bon Scott’s last American tour before his death. I remember shaking when the band played this song in Fort Worth, Texas. Bon and Angus are the down and dirty Lennon and McCartney.
13. Hell’s Bells
Oh how they teased us for a good minute and a bit, mournful bell tolling and all, as we waited to hear what new singer Brian Johnson sounded like. Another one that outraged the God squad, but is in fact about a storm that hit Nassau as the band arrived to begin recording the new album.
Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep): Gotta be Hell’s Bells! Grinding riff, thumping bass line and a gargle with razor blades vocal! What more do you want (or need for that matter) from a great rock song? Nobody does it better than AC/DC. Fact.
Originally released on the Australian version of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap but inexplicably left off of the international version. The tale of a man trying to escape from a life sentence was immortalised in a cheap and cheerful promo video featuring the whole band acting out the song’s tale.
Judas Priest (all of them): Fave AC/DC song? Way too many, but Jailbreak works for us. When Priest was first starting out on dates through Europe, we had an invite to open for AC/DC on their first extensive tour in the 1970s. Those shows we did tgether enabled us to make our mark in Europe. Funny story is that, after our set, we would bale overnight in a Ford Transit (band and crew together) to make it in time for the next gig. The AC/DC guys thought we were being a bit stuck up not hanging around with them. When they found out the reason for our runners they said, ‘Get on our bus and enjoy!’. That’s the sort of good lads they have always been.
11. Sin City
Bon Scott’s ode to the lure of Las Vegas, the song features that rarity for AC/DC, a bass solo.
Joe Perry (Aerosmith): I’d pick anything off Powerage but leaning towards Sin City. When our manager asked if we wanted to have AC/DC open for us I said, “No problem. No one could be that good live.” And they were. When Angus would drop to the floor, he’d do a couple of moves with his body flailing away. One we called “the frying bacon” where he laid down on his back and played. We’d often run from our dressing room and watch him do that from the side of the stage. The other one we called “the Curly dance”, which had him drop to his side and spin in a motion reminiscent of Curly from The Three Stooges.
Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins): When Bon sang about going down to Sin City to get into God knows what, you knew absolutely without a doubt he knew what he was talking about.
Michael Anthony (Van Halen): Sin City blazed on the VH tour bus all through Europe on our first tour. I think of that song every time I think of touring over there…