With all the unusual stuff I’ve posted so far (for instance, the band with tap dancers for drummers, the psychedelic Cambodian surf music, the gypsy punk, and the 23 piece symphonic pop band), I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there’s a bagpipe solo lurking in the 366 times, artists and songs project. You may be surprised to find it in the middle of an AC/DC song, however.
Of course, AC/DC didn’t become one of the world’s biggest rock bands because of their bagpipe prowess. Bon Scott’s and Brian Johnson’s howling, screeching wails, Angus Young’s electric guitar riffs and straightforward songs about sex, drugs and rock and roll were the band’s recipe for success. The blueprint they had was so successful that it’s not entirely unfair to say that AC/DC basically played the same song over and over again for thirty years, in the process cranking out one hit after another. Even more impressive is that they managed to carry on and build on their success after original frontman Bon Scott drank himself to death after the Highway to Hell album. Brian Johnson stepped into Scott’s place and took over for Back in Black, which went on to massive worldwide success. Aside from Van Halen, I’m not sure how many other bands have had so much success with two different lead singers.
Back in Black was an album that was important to me because it was one of the first few rock albums that I got (from Columbia House music club!) when I switched over from primarily listening to hip-hop. From there, I just kept getting more and more AC/DC albums, and for the second half of my high school years and the first half of college, AC/DC was never far from my CD player or tape deck. They were the subject of my term paper for my college Rock and Roll class, which let me play “What Do You Do For Money Honey” during the presentation in class. Or at least it would have, had the professor let me finish (He cut people off when he didn’t like their musical choices).
AC/DC’s catalog has great depth behind their biggest hits, “Hells Bells”, “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”. Early albums like Let There Be Rock and High Voltage contain lots of great material. “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” comes from the latter of those, and you might recognize is from the closing credits in the excellent Jack Black film, “School of Rock”. The credits feature an adapted version played by the cast. Here’s AC/DC’s original material.