35. What's Next To The Moon
This deep cut from Powerage has a seriously badass riff and a wickedly funny lyric from Bon with references to Superman and Casey Jones. ‘I didn’t mean to hurt that woman of mine,” he protests. “It was a heart attack.’
The unsung classic from Let There Be Rock is not a drug story as the title might imply, but one of sexual obsession: “I overdosed on you.” It begins in shambolic fashion – a false start and a bum note – but once the Young brothers are lock in it all coalesces into a thing of hypnotic power.
33. Gimme A Bullet
On the Powerage album AC/DC made it all sound so easy, and no more so than on this track. Nothing fancy, just a great rock’n’roll band playing a great rock’n’roll song.
32. Girls Got Rhythm
Of all the raunchy songs this band recorded, this is the raunchiest. Bon boasted of the girl in question: ‘She’s enough to start a landslide/Just a-walkin’ down the street.’ The ‘back-seat rhythm’ he referred to is replicated in a bouncing, bump-and-grind riff.
31. Kicked In The Teeth
Powerage’s last track is a real bruiser. It starts with Bon, alone, howling in indignation: ‘Two-face woman with your two-face lies!’ Between volleys of power chords and some aching blues licks from Angus, the singer lays it on thick: ‘Told me baby I was your only one/While you been runnin’ round town with every mother’s son.’
And when the band piles in behind him it’s mayhem. From such a noted swordsman as Bon, who had at least one girl in every town, there’s a whiff of hypocrisy here. But every word was delivered with utter conviction.
30. Go Down
It says a lot about AC/DC’s brass balls that in 1977, at a key stage of their early career, they opened the Let There Be Rock album with a track as loose as Go Down. This is rock’n’roll in its most raw form. In the first few seconds the band are heard warming up, before being counted in by Bon.
With the first big power chords there’s a wail of feedback. And while the track is based around a hard, driving riff, it also breaks down midway through into a funky jam in which Bon and Angus play call-and-response with mock-orgasmic wailing. It’s a song about blow jobs, after all
29. If You Want Blood (You've Got It)
The title was so great that they used it for their 1978 live album and also for this bullish track from Highway To Hell: a song pumped up with a violent energy and full of piss and vinegar.
28. Get It Hot
From Highway To Hell, it’s about cruisin’ and boozin’ – two and a half minutes of pure groove propelled by a floor-shaking bass line. It also has Bon taking a swipe at the big-nosed king of schmaltz, Barry Manilow. It was so typical of Bon: that sense of mischief that never left him.
27. Rock 'N' Roll Singer
This was Bon sticking it to The Man: to ‘nine-to-five livin’’, to ‘moral standards’, to ‘silly rules’ and, of course, to ‘all the other shit that you teach to kids in school’. He was nearly 30 when the band recorded it in 1975, and he delivered it with the cockiness of a man who knew that his time had come. The final line is his funniest fuck-you: ‘Gonna be a rock’n’roll star. Yes I are!’
Recorded in 1974 and first released two years later as an Aussie-only single, Jailbreak is a true cult classic. Powered by a stinging riff, it’s the tale of a killer banged up and plotting his escape. There is no Hollywood ending: ‘He made it out,with a bullet in his back!’ Bon cries. According to George Young, Bon was so drunk when he cut it, and put so much into his performance, that he passed out at the end.
25. She's Got Balls
This was the first song the band ever wrote with Bon, and its subject was his ex-wife. The title was not an insult; quite the opposite. There was genuine fondness in what he sang about her, albeit with a degree of candour she might not have appreciated: ‘She’s got balls, my lady/Likes to crawl, my lady/Hands and knees all around the floor/No one has to tell her what a fella is for.’
This bawdy humour, coupled to a grinding boogie, is much-loved by the man who replaced Bon: Brian Johnson says it’s his favourite AC/DC song.
24. Night Prowler
It was always sinister, this creepy blues song from Highway To Hell, on which Bon adopted the persona of a murderous stalker. But in 1985, six years after that album was released, Night Prowler came back to haunt AC/DC. American serial killer Richard Ramirez – dubbed the Night Stalker – claimed after his arrest that it was this song that had driven him to commit 16 murders.
Only when separated from this context can the song be viewed for what it really is: a deeply flawed yet immensely powerful piece of music. Angus never played a better blues solo than the one on Night Prowler. And for all the grisly imagery in the lyrics, the song ended with a weird joke, as Bon quoted alien language from 70s sitcom Mork & Mindy: ‘Shazbot! Nanu nanu!’
23. Up To My Neck In You
While the Powerage album has long been overshadowed by what came before and after it – Let There Be Rock and Highway To Hell – it is home to some of the band’s most ass-kicking tracks. One such track is Up To My Neck In You: rock’n’roll as an all-out assault on the senses.
22. High Voltage
With its no-brainer mission-statement chorus – ‘High voltage rock’n’roll’ – this is one of the band’s defining early songs, the title track for their second Australian album and also for their first international release. No frills, no bullshit, just heavy boogie. It ain’t rocket science.
21. Walk All Over You
It might be one of the lesser-known album tracks from Highway To Hell, but Walk All Over You is a monster. It starts at a crawl, with drummer Phil Rudd ratcheting up the tension, then it all kicks off like a pub brawl. And if the title of this song suggested a Neanderthal attitude towards the fairer sex, there was a clever twist in Bon’s sly payoff: ‘I’m gonna walk all over you/Do anything you want me to.’
20. Rock 'N' Roll Damnation
On this rollicking lead-off track from Powerage, Bon delivered a classic put-down: ‘You say that you want respect/Honey, for what?’ On every level, it was a song that kicked ass.
As Angus Young has always maintained, AC/DC are a rock’n’roll band, nothing more, nothing less. And this is their purest rock’n’roll song. It channels Chuck Berry in 2’46” of blistering ramalama, with Bon creating his own mythology in the opening line: ‘I’m a rocker, roller, right-out-of-controller.’
18. Down Payment Blues
Although he’s remembered as a legendary rock star, Bon spent most of his 33 years living hand-to-mouth. As such he gave a gritty authenticity to this song – in his lyrics, and in the way he sang them.
From Powerage, this was not a blues song in the conventional sense, but over a relentless, visceral riff Bon laid out the harsh realities of a life on the breadline: ‘Can’t even feed my cat on social security.’
17. Sin City
It’s Powerage’s most famous track, and for Aerosmith’s Joe Perry the best thing AC/DC ever did. As implied, Sin City is a gambler’s song, and in Bon’s words there’s a powerful sense of the danger and the thrill of it all: ‘Spin that wheel, cut that pack and roll them loaded dice/Bring on the dancin’ girls and put the champagne on ice.’
16. Shot Down In Flames
For all his swinging-dick machismo, Bon could admit that even he got blown out sometimes. The title was self-explanatory, but this track had an undeniable groove.