Who would have thought that six months after the album release date, Bon Scott would be dead. There is no denying what a massive force he was in the band and since his departure, AC/DC got stuck in recreating the formula that Bon’s intensity brought to the band.
While Bon wrote about sex, parties and relationships, he was also very conscious of what was happening in society and how society was structured and the power struggle between the haves and have nots. AC/DC post Bon, eventually just wrote songs which had knees rhyming with please.
Eddie Kramer was brought in by the label to produce. Malcolm was less than pleased because it meant older brother George, was no longer involved. But the the pressure was on and the band was not delivering what the label wanted.
Malcolm and the bands new manager Peter Mensch then fired Kramer and hired Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange, who wielded his iron fist straight away and made the band work hard for three months. He even made Bon take vocal lessons.
And it was the start of the holy trinity of albums.
I never purchased this album until the early 2000’s. I just went over to a friends place with a bunch of blank cassettes and I taped every album he had, while we drank beers.
“Highway To Hell”
“Highway To Hell” is a rite of passage. It might have been about touring, however timeless songs have lyrics that can be interpreted in many different ways. The riff to kick it off is iconic. Credit Malcolm.
Livin’ easy, Livin’ free
Those words are exactly how we want to live life. Easy living. Free living. But it isn’t so. Nothing is free in life and nothing is easy. The people born between 1948 and 1962 inherited a rich country and bankrupted it. They first got into government by the early 80’s and by the mid 90’s they were all in positions to make decisions.
They passed laws and regulations to benefit their bank accounts and the bank accounts of their sponsors. If they did something wrong, the taxpayer would bail them out.
And in these pandemic times, living easy and living free is impossible. Free democratic countries are passing laws to enforce lockdowns that dictatorships don’t even have.
I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell
The Satanic panic begins. If this was played backwards, the subliminal message would say, “lleh ot yawhgih eht no”.
It’s so dangerous.
No stop signs
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Nobody does this anymore. I tell my kids they go to school to learn, not to get a job. But people I speak to always tell me that schools are there for people to get a job. You see, money is more important than developing yourself and experiencing life. You should be free to spread your wings.
Payin’ my dues
Playin’ in a rockin’ band
Look at me
I’m on the way to the promised land
It’s why music was great. People paid their dues. It didn’t mean they would make it, or be global superstars. Hell, it didn’t mean they would make a living wage. But they could have. Bon’s lyrics are a lifestyle and six months later, Bon Scott, would be on his way to the promised land.
“Girls Got Rhythm”
If the intro riff doesn’t get you moving, check for a pulse.
I been around the world
I’ve seen a million girls
Ain’t one of them got
What my lady she got
Only Bon could get away with confessing his cheating ways to his real love back in Oz via a song and still be in a relationship.
Love me till I’m legless
Achin’ and sore
Is this even possible anymore?
Everyone is too busy parading on social media, joining movements of empowerment. There is no time for loving until the morning light, unless your on a Netflix TV series.
“Walk All Over You”
After the slow dirge Intro, a riff kicks in that The Romantics would use for “What I Like About You”.
“Touch Too Much”
How good is the Intro?
Seems like a touch, a touch too much
Too much for my body
Too much for my brain
Only Bon can put his bedroom ways into a song like this. In this case, the woman is just too much for him. He can’t handle her.
“Beating Around The Bush“
It’s the usual fast blues from “Let There Be Rock” which was inspired by the Peter Green Fleetwood Mac version. Check out the song “Oh Well”.
“Shot Down In Flames”
A few chords over a standard drum and bass canvas. It’s the AC/DC way.
“Get It Hot”
It’s like “Rock N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” merged with Chuck Berry.
“If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”
The Intro gets me playing air guitar. And the drum build, so simple and so sublime.
Livin’ in the human zoo
The shit that they toss to you
Feelin’ like a Christian
Locked in a cage
Thrown to the lions
On the second page
Quick, call in the political correct activists.
Life is like living in a cage that you pay for, your whole life and you never really own it.
The crap they toss at us, is the wage we get for building someone else’s dream and we have three options, leave and try to build our dreams, stay and work on the side to build our dreams or just stay and be a slave. Because the system is designed to benefit the companies. If you don’t have a weekly wage, you cannot get a loan.
“Love Hungry Man”
It’s funky for an AC/DC song which Angus Young called as the worst AC/DC song ever.
While this song would become popular for all the wrong reasons, in its essence it’s a slow blues dirge and a favorite.
5x platinum in Australia, 7x platinum in the U.S and various other certifications around the world is proof of its longevity.
13 thoughts on “Australian Method Series: AC/DC – Highway to Hell”
This is such a good one. Mutt really brought these guys to super stardom as each album just got better and better…wait, there is another band Mutt did that with…Lep anyone!! Mutt is a master.
He sure is Jon. Mutt did a stellar job shaping some massive albums and the careers of artists.
He definitely has sound. When you listen to AC/DC, Def Lep, Bryan Adams and Shania, you can hear Mutts sound plain as day on all of them though all very different bands/artists.
A game changer in which Bon kicked the door open to North America and the following album BIB went into everyones living rooms and never left!
Great album and good call Pete on Bon dying 6 months after it came out. When we talked about it with Andy Curran he caught the HTH Tour in Toronto when AC/DC was opening for UFO and as Andy said AC/DC wiped the floor with UFO and Andy is a huge UFO fan.
Thats saying something!
Check out the post from AC/DC about an anonymous gig they did in 1977 and then in the comments thread someone posted an article of a Kiss gig with AC/DC opening. Check out what the writer said about AC/DC.
Haha a lady guzzling beer and Bon undressed her onstage lol…
Bad Boy Boogie indeed!
Come on, post AC/DC did a little more than rhyming knees with please! Spellbound, Landslide, Bedlam in Belgium had some good lyrics just to name a few! Heck, Who Made Who is kind of trippy too!
Great album! One of those ones where everything just came together for them.
Lol. I know. I was using some artistic licence.
One of my favorites is The Razors Edge. And Hail Ceaser has great lyrics.
Fair enough! I have been known to do the same.
When I was in high school (cabramatta area Sydney ) we had 2 gangs- the headbangers and the 5T (vietnamese)
Anyway around 86 one of my friends was wearing a who made who tshirt and got stabbed after school when he was walking home by 5T. Acdc found out about it and gave him a free guitar with AC/DC merch. Was in the local paper and pretty sure it was on channel 9 a current affair by memory.
The 5T Gang had a lot of press for things like that. Great work from Acca as well.