40. Have a Drink on Me
There is no small irony in the fact that AC/DC released perhaps the greatest drinking song of all time just five months after their former frontman Bon Scott managed to drink himself to death, the official cause of death being acute alcohol poisoning.
Far from acting as a deterrent, however, rumour has it that the Royal Marines have a drinking game based on the song, the rules of which are necessarily simple and begin, as you’d expect, with the consumption of whiskey, gin, and brandy. “Trying to walk a straight line” after playing the game is considerably more complicated.
Some might consider the lyrics to this one in bad taste, but you can’t help but be carried along by the song’s sense of alcohol-induced camaraderie. The Young brothers pump out riff after riff to keep things swinging and the tune works by answering only to its own internal logic.
39. Soul Stripper
On a standout track from the Australian version of debut album High Voltage, Bon cast himself in the unlikely role of victim – the mind games of a manipulative woman messing with his head – although the song itself was credited solely to Malcolm and Angus, instead of the soon-to-be-familiar Young/Young/Scott.
The song also featured as the b-side of the High Voltage single put out by Alberts in 1975, and later on the '74 Jailbreak EP. Why it was omitted from the international versions of the album is baffling, as the song has the kind of rhythmic tension that would define much of the band's best work, with a punchy groove and a great, simple solo.
38. Rock 'N Roll Train
A simple beat, a simple guitar riff and even simpler lyrics. Yup, AC/DC returned after a lengthy hiatus with a good time groove and a belter of a rock single, proving there’s only one way to rock.
Randy Bachman (Bachman Turner Overdrive): "Rather than pick an old fave like everyone else is doing, I would pick Rock’N’Roll Train from Black Ice. Again, it illustrates their uncanny ability to make the basic three chord essence of rock’n’roll into something new and fresh. You fall into the groove and can immediately sing along and play your dashboard drums and air guitar. Long live AC/DC."
37. Gimme A Bullet
On Powerage, the lines between old-school, go-get-’em AC/DC and new, more measured, see-what-we-can-do AC/DC are pleasingly blurred. Gimme A Bullet, with its low-slung guitars and chugging drums, sounds more like the Lynyrd Skynyrd number it almost steals its title from than anything AC/DC had put down on vinyl before.
Its lyrics are one part heartbreak to two-parts Western tough-guy: ‘Doctor, doctor/Ain't no cure/For the pain in my heart/Gimme a bullet to bite on’.
The inspiration for the song was Margaret ‘Silver’ Smith, one of Bon Scott's great loves, who was also the inspiration for Gone Shootin’. They lived together in Australia and England, and travelled together on the road in the United States. She died in a hospice in Jamestown, South Australia on December 12, 2016.
36. Girls Got Rhythm
An unashamed paean to the glory of the finer sex, all in delightfully lurid detail. When Bon Scott sang ‘I’ve been around the world, I’ve seen a million girls…’ you believed him. And were slightly jealous to boot.
Peter Frampton: "I love AC/DC so to chose one track is hard. I don’t drive without AC/DC loaded on the iPod. It’s the orchestral guitar parts that are so great for me. I’ve thought about wearing the shorts but I think I’ll leave those to Angus!"
35. 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.
Anybody with a chord book and a thrift-store hollow body can bash out some simple acoustic AC/DC covers, but to give you an idea of what can be done with Bon-era material, and to show how genuinely versatile that band's songs are, check out the album Mark Kozelek (from indie folk act Sun Kil Moon) made under the tittle What's Next To The Moon. He rearranges ten Bon Scott-era AC/DC classics into something so haunting and intimate that it’s nearly impossible to hear the originals.
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."
34. 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 songs. One such song is Up To My Neck In You: rock’n’roll as an all-out assault on the senses.
It's an absolute monster of a song, with Malcolm's rhythm guitar propelling the song forward with unrelenting momentum, and performances from Bon and Angus that are both close to their very best. It's not rocket science, but it is rocket fuel.
33. High Voltage
With its no-brainer mission-statement chorus – ‘High voltage rock’n’roll’ – it’s one of the band’s defining early songs, the title track for their second Australian album and for their first international release. No frills, no bullshit, just heavy boogie, and a live favourite that's been a set and live album staple ever since.
High Voltage was released as the band's third single in July 1975, reaching number 10 on the Aussie singles chart. Five years later it was reissued in the UK, where it crept just inside the Top 50.
32. Problem Child
An anti-establishment hymn from 1976’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Bon would tell audiences it was actually about Angus. Inexplicably, the song also crops up on some versions of 1977’s Let There Be Rock.
Glenn Hughes: "The song is Problem Child. This was the first song that brought me to their attention. Ozzy was over at my house back in ’76, and we were watchin’ the BBC and on comes this ballsy band, with a little lad in his school uniform. We both knew that they would go all the way, and this song stood out for me."
Kim Thayil (Soundgarden): "We used to do Problem Child as part of our encore when we toured Europe in ‘89/’90. It has a cool riff, cool lyrics and a great groove, which pretty much describes all of AC/DC’s songs."
31. The Jack
It’s not only the band’s most celebrated blues track. It’s also the best song ever written about venereal disease. It came to them in a flash of inspiration after Malcolm Young caught a dose of the clap – in Aussie parlance, ‘the jack’ – from a girl in Melbourne.
Bon was well versed in this subject: he was on first-name terms with the staff in his local VD clinic. His filthy lyrics were an extended pun on playing poker. “If I’d know what she was dealin’ out,” he growled, “I’d have dealt it back.”
Performed live, The Jack would be enlivened by a striptease from Angus. Even funnier is the studio cut, which ends as if played to a hostile club audience. Over the sound of booing and catcalls, Bon exclaims: “Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the show!”