30. 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.’
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 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." Then there's the lairy gang vocals on the chorus. Close your eyes and tell me you can’t instantly see Malcolm Young shuffling forward towards his mic stand as you hear those words.
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."
29. Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution
Like Let There Be Rock, Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution is AC/DC’s homage to their own brand of rock. The lyrics were made up on the spot in the studio and this slow rocker was the band’s highest charting UK single (No.15) at the time.
Sometimes it feels like an anthemic call to arms. Sometimes it feels a wee bit hokey. But what we can all agree on, surely, is that it definitely isn’t one of Back In Black’s standout moments.
"We were in London at the time," said Malcolm Young. "There were all those problems with the old Marquee Club because it was in a built-up area and there was this whole thing about noise pollution in the news, the environmental health thing that you couldn’t have your stereo up loud after 11 at night, it all came from that.”
Rik Emmett (Triumph): "I used to help coach my son’s baseball team, and he loved to crank the classic rock tunes in the car on the way to games. Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution just had the best build of grinding rock guitars – such great, classic rock guitar sounds. Definitely to be enjoyed played loud!"
28. Bad Boy Boogie
With a title that spoke volumes about the band and their rough-arsed sensibilities, this was one of many killer tracks on the Let There Be Rock album. But it was on stage that Bad Boy Boogie really came alive: extended to more than ten minutes, with Angus hoisted on to Bon’s shoulders and soloing like a motherfucker.
There was a detectable edge, a nasty side to some of the material on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and on Bad Boy Boogie (‘I said up/They said down/I do the bad boy boogie/All over town’), where Bon’s sneer is matched by Angus’s furious soloing, with the rest of the band pounding away, it sounds as if the band are speaking directly to the record company suits in New York.
27. Rock 'n' Roll Damnation
On the rollicking leadoff 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, even if it was recorded at Atlantic’s insistence to try to bait American radio. This caused real controversy, at least among the band, who genuinely hated it. For the rest of us it was simply one more catchy tune.
The song also pointed a way to the future: AC/DC’s production duo, Vanda & Young, pumped up the volume on the backing vocals in a way that Mutt Lange would on Highway To Hell, creating a backing vocal choir that transformed the choruses to Girl’s Got Rhythm and the bumping, grinding Walk All Over You into terrace chants.
26. Shot Down in Flames
For all his swinging-dick machismo, Bon could admit that even he got blown out sometimes. The title of Shot Down In Flames was self-explanatory, but the song had a groove that was undeniable.
Bon is at his most commanding, compelling and irresistible, cock o’ the walk in a rough ‘n’ tumble, spit ‘n’ sawdust world, rolling with the punches as Shot Down In Flames lays out a scenario in which the horn-dog singer’s ego takes a bruising.
Nick Harmer (Death Cab For Cutie): "Shot Down in Flames and Highway To Hell itself are both great jams. I don’t think that AC/DC have been an influence on Death Cab For Cutie, however. Not in any way directly, and probably not indirectly, either. The entire band has a love and respect for them, though. We did a tour of Australia a few years back, and we played in Perth. We did a pilgrimage to Bon Scott’s grave while we were there.
"The reason we love them, as well as bands like Metallica and a lot of metal, is because it’s so vastly different to the music that we make. It’s really nice and a great break to put something on and clean my palate a little bit."
25. 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, this infamous song ended with a weird joke, as Bon quoted mock alien language from 70s sci-fi sitcom Mork & Mindy: “Shazbot! Nanu nanu!"
24. Live Wire
There’s a heavy vibe about Live Wire. Cut in 1975 for the band’s second album T.N.T., it has an air of menace about it. The mood is set in the intro: a throbbing one-note bass line, guitars easing in slow, the hiss of a hit-hat pushing it along, and then everything locking together in a riff that’s as mean as they come.
It’s the cue for Bon to play the hard man: “Cooler than a body on ice/Hotter than a rolling dice.” Apart from a brief moment of levity – Bon’s exclamation, “Stick this in your fuse box!” – it’s all bad vibes. For several years, AC/DC opened their set with Live Wire. What that said was very simple: these guys weren’t fucking around.
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 Judas 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."
This overlooked gem from 1977’s Let There Be Rock is a slow-building rocker that ends up driving on relentlessly and telling the tale of one man’s obsession with the lady in his life.
Guy Griffin (The Quireboys): "Overdose was the first AC/DC song I ever heard, when I was 11 years old. It changed everything there and then! Bon Scott had that rare blend of menace and humour in his lyrics and you could believe he actually lived that life.
"They came to London in the middle of the punk scene. They were more ‘punk’ than anything Malcolm McLaren could ever create – the real deal."
21. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be
Always prefaced live by Angus presenting his devil’s horns, this staple from 1977’s Let There Be Rock may have got the band in trouble with the clergy, but in fact relates to the mundanities of life on the road.
Ginger (The Wildhearts): "My god how you pick one ’DC track?!? The riff of Riff Raff that feels so satisfying when you learn to play it. The memories of snogging in the youth club disco while You Shook Me All Night Long played in the background. Experiencing the cannons every night on tour with them on For Those About To Rock.
"The live version of The Jack with the rude lyrics… AC/DC have been the soundtrack to most of the great memories in my life. But I have to choose Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be because it’s just my favourite. No reason really, it just goes to all the places I want a rock song to go to. Band tight as fuck, Bon being awesome, huge riff… tick, tick, tick. They’re just fucking amazing in every way, aren’t they?"