"Back in Black" is the 7th full-length studio album by Australian hard rock act AC/DC. The album was released through Albert/Atlantic in July 1980. It´s the first AC/DC album to feature new vocalist Brian Johnson after Bon Scott´s tragic death in February 1980. The band shortly considered disbanding after Bon Scott´s death, but only few days after the funeral, they decided that it would be in Bon Scott´s spirit that they would carry on. Soon after they hired former Geordie frontman Brian Johnson (who Bon Scott had been very impressed by) and started working on songs. By April they were ready to record and went to Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas with producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who had also been responsible for producing the highly successful "Highway to Hell (1979)". They finished up the recordings at Electric Lady Studios in New York in May 1980.
While AC/DC had enjoyed a lot of success with their previous releases, nothing could have prepared them for the success of "Back in Black". The album sold extremely well and gave them their final breakthrough in the US. "Back in Black" has today sold around 50 million copies, which makes it one of the best selling albums in the history of recorded music.
...so what is it that makes "Back in Black" such a special album, that so many people love it and worship it? First of all it´s one of the few AC/DC albums where each track are killer material and there are no fillers. Secondly "Back in Black" is an extremely well produced hard rock album, that is raw enough for the heavy rock audience to love it, but also "polished" enough to reach a mainstream audience. Last but not least, it´s an album that shows AC/DC in fine form despite the very recent tragic event. They are positively on fire and new frontman Brian Johnson more than passes the test. While some of us may prefer the more filthy vocal style of Bon Scott, it´s hard to argue that Brian Johnson isn´t the perfect replacement now that we can´t have Bon Scott singing.
Tracks like "Hells Bells", "Back in Black" and "You Shook Me All Night Long" are AC/DC "classics", but as mentioned above there are no fillers on the album and tracks like "Shoot to Thrill" and "Given the Dog a Bone" also score high in my book. As such there´s nothing new about the music style besides Brian Johnson´s more raw sandpaper delivery and we´re still treated to hard rocking bluesy rock´n´roll of the highest caliber. The rythm section is tight, the rythm guitar riffs by Malcolm Young are heavy, sharp and organic while little brother Angus Young plays those catchy solos and licks.
"Back in Black" is still and probably always will be the most commercially successful album by AC/DC. However the greatest thing about "Back in Black" is that it´s also one of the band´s greatest artistic achivements and a 4.5 - 5 star (95%) rating is fully deserved. They don´t come much more "classic" than this.