Bon Scott epitomised rock’n’roll. This wasn’t just true of his personality, but also of the man’s lyricism. He had a natural rhythmic writing style that ensured you didn’t actually need the music to feel the groove. From humorous double-entendres to more sinister and vulnerable subjects, he was master of emotional manoeuvres. These are his 10 finest songs.
10) Crabsody In Blue (1977)
From the album Let There Be Rock. Who else but Scott can make you you itch with laughter at the mere thought of getting this sexually transmitted disease? He describes the pain through the paean of lines like ‘And then you start to scratch/And they start to hatch…’. Shudder! Explicit yet hugely entertaining, unlike the problem itself.
9) Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire) (1976)
From the album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, here Scott talks about the struggle to make it big in a band. It’s sharply observant, and was written at a time when AC/DC were still trying to make their mark. Lines like ‘I got holes in my shoes/I got holes in my teeth’ sum up the forthright realism.
8) Big Balls (1976)
Again from Dirty Deeds…, this is Scott revelling in double-entendres. It’s almost a tribute to the Carry On movies, with its nudge-wink narrative. ‘And I always fill my ballroom/The event is never small’, he boasts, before adding, ‘My ballroom’s always full/And everybody comes and comes again’. Of course, he’s talking about ballroom dancing – isn’t he?!
7) Touch Too Much (1979)
From Highway To Hell, here’s proof of how clever Scott could be. The line ‘It was one of those nights, when you turn off the lights/And everythin’ comes into view’ is typical of the cunning manner in which the man could paint striking images, matched by claiming the woman in question ‘had the face of an angel, smiling with sin’.
6) Whole Lotta Rosie (1977)
From the Let There Be Rock album, this is actually a true story. Scott did have a one night stand with a large lady, on whom the character of Rosie is based. Not only does he admit to the incident, but graphically extols her virtues. ‘42-39-56/You could say she’s got it all’, he applauds in admiration.
5) The Jack (1975)
From TNT, this is a song about gonorrhea, but constructed in such a cunning way that, on the surface, it seems to be about a card game. ‘She was wheelin’ and dealin’/Just doin’ her thing’. The ending, though, is a non sequitur, as Scott thanks the fans seemingly in a live setting. Just his warped humour shining through.
4) Ride On (1976)
From Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Amid the swagger and brash humour of so many Scott lyrics, this song showed his capacity for being introspective and exposing deeper emotions. He dares to admit to the loneliness of touring, with expressive lines like, ‘But I ain’t too young to worry/I ain’t too old to cry’. Few songs evince the dichotomy of the rock’n’roll spirit like this one.
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3) Let There Be Rock (1977)
The title track of the band’s fourth album succinctly relates the story of how rock’n’roll was born. Scott references Chuck Berry in the line ‘But Tchaikovsky had the news’. He builds up the tale with quick witted nods to the fact that ‘There were fifteen million fingers/Learning how to play’, capturing the excitement of rock’n’roll’s early impact.
2) Problem Child (1976)
From Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, this is as close as you get to Scott being self analytical. ‘What I want I stash/What I don’t I smash’, he claims, building up an image of someone who lives for the moment, and has no interest in what tomorrow might bring. In many ways, this is Scott’s anthem.
1) Highway To Hell (1979)
The title track of the band’s final album with Bon Scott, and no AC/DC song from that era represents it better than this masterpiece. ‘Season ticket on a one way ride’ he sings at the start, immediately setting the roller coaster tone for what follows. ‘Nobody’s gonna slow me down’ he insists, ‘And I’m going down/All the way’. No half measures, the way Scott lived his life.