LAMONT’S MUSIC NOTES-JULY 25, 2019…ON THIS DATE 39 YEARS AGO AC/DC RELEASED THE ALBUM ‘BACK IN BLACK.’ DEPENDING ON WHO IS DOING THE MATH, THIS IS THE BIGGEST SELLING ALBUM OF ALL-TIME.
BACK IN BLACK HAS SOLD THE EQUIVALENT OF OVER 58 MILLION COPIES WORLD WIDE. IT IS ARGUABLY THE GREATEST HARD ROCK ALBUM OF ALL-TIME.
WITH THIS RECORD, AC/DC BOUNCED BACK FROM THE DEATH OF THEIR LEAD SINGER BON SCOTT. SCOTT DIED OF ALCOHOL POISONING JUST FIVE MONTHS PRIOR TO THE RELEASE OF THIS ALBUM.(THE CORONER OFFICIALLY RULED HIS PASSING AS “DEATH BY MISADVENTURE”)
HERE ARE SOME QUICK BITS OF TRIVIA ON ‘BACK IN BLACK’
-At 58,224,000 equivalent album sales, Back In Black is the most successful Hard Rock/Heavy Metal album of all-time
-At 58,224,000 equivalent album sales, Back In Black is the third most successful album from the 80s.
-Back In Black is one of the two studio albums from the 80s with over 300 weeks charted(303 weeks) inside the US BB200 Album Chart.
-Worldwide, Back in Black ranks #1 in sales in actual album sales
–It never went to #1 in the US. Despite selling a monumental number of copies and staying in the Billboard Chart for 131 weeks on its initial release, it has never reached Number One. Instead, every time it’s been reissued, it has peaked at Number Four every time.
-Despite the album never going to # 1 in the U.S. Atlantic Records issued the group’s 1976 album Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap stateside at the same time the album was on the charts. Atlantic had originally passed on handling Dirty Deeds. This was a direct money grab by the record company and pissed off AC/DC who were trying to establish Brian Johnson as the new lead singer.
-In May 1981, Dirty Deeds beat out Back in Black on the Billboard chart by landing at #3.
-In the U.S., Back in Black is the sixth biggest seller of all time, behind Their Greatest Hits by the Eagles; Thriller;Hotel California by the Eagles; Led Zeppelin IV; and The Wall by Pink Floyd.
-Deciding to record in the Bahamas for the tax breaks very nearly backfired. AC/DC recorded Back in Black at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas over seven weeks from April to May 1980. They hit the island just in time for tropical storm season, causing regular power cuts. The weather is referenced in Johnson’s lyrics: “I’m rolling thunder, pourin’ rain. I’m comin’ on like a hurricane. My lightning’s flashing across the sky. You’re only young but you’re gonna die.”
-At one point, a crab wandered into the studio’s drum booth from the beach, momentarily disrupting recording and busting up everyone involved. According to Brian Johnson“It was cracking its claws like castanets!”
– The crab wasn’t the only distraction. “It was hardly any kind of studio,” Malcolm Young once said. “We were in these little concrete cells… you had a bed and a chair. And this big old black lady ran the whole place. Oh, she was fearsome. She ruled that place with a rod of iron. We had to lock the doors at night because she’d warned us about these Haitians who’d come down at night and rob the place. So she bought us all these six-foot fishing spears to keep at the f—ing door!”
-When they weren’t avoiding crabs that wandered into the recording rooms from the beach, they were plagued by flocks of birds.
-They had to make their own bell for Hells Bells. While trying to record the chime of bells from a nearby church, the recording were ruined by a flock of birds flying away every time the bell struck. In the end, the band resorted to their original plan of having their own bell made for recording. The two-ton bell turned up perfectly tuned, and became a fixture of the band’s live shows.
-Back in Black produced four singles. In order of release, they were “You Shook Me All Night Long” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” “Hells Bells” and “Back in Black.”
– It could have been some more black. The original plan for the album was to have the sleeve entirely back as a sign of mourning for Bon Scott. Their label Atlantic objected and a compromise was made wherein the AC/DC logo was bordered in grey.
-It’s a sonic industry standard. The sound engineering is considered so perfect is tthat Motorhead uses the record to tune their sound systems and several studios in Nashville use it to check the acoustics of a room.
–An unknown number of “You Shook Me All Night Long” singles that were pressed incorrectly were sold to the public. The record instead plays the song “Shake a Leg.” Copies of those singles are among the very most sought-after AC/DC collector’s items.
-Two music videos for “You Shook Me All Night Long” exist. One, released in 1980, showcases the band playing live. The second was created in 1986 for Who Made Who, AC/DC’s combination greatest-hits and soundtrack album for the Stephen King cult movie, Maximum Overdrive. The Who Made Who video is a major comedic production starring Johnson and buxom British Page 3 model and Benny Hill Show starlet, Corinne Russell.
-“Shoot to Thrill” is one of the most widely used rock songs in movies, TV, and video games. Among the productions that have employed the song are Iron Man 2, Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, The Dukes of Hazzard, xXx: State of the Union, Red 2, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
-The iconic opening riff from the title track was something that Malcom Young had in his head and it was driving him crazy. According to Angus Young “Malcolm had that riff for about three weeks. He came in one night and said, ‘You got your cassette here? Can I put this down? It’s been driving me mad. I won’t be getting any sleep until I put it on cassette.’ He sat down and played it all. The funniest thing is he said to me, ‘What do you think? I don’t know if it’s crap or not.’”
OUT OF TRAGEDY CAME TRIUMPH, IT IS THE GREATEST TURN-AROUND ALBUM IN ROCK HISTORY. HERE’S THE OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR THE TITLE TRACK OF ‘BACK IN BLACK’