Three points can be made about this album that make it so important:
1)The conditions under which the album was made.
No one expected AC/DC to put out an album so strong after the death of Bon Scott, their frontman. People expected them to fade into the history books as one of those "if only Bon would have lived..." bands. Lucky for us, Mr. Scott's death only made the band stronger. The transition between Scott and Brian Johnson is seamless and perfect. It's the same old AC/DC but with an equally sufficient new frontman. Though the band was going through tough times, they put out an emotionally charged rock album that is one of the best selling of all time.
Bon Scott wasn't forgotten on this album. The story of his death is well documented, and so is the request that his mother made following it. She wanted the band to continue because she believed that is what Bon wanted. Thank God that AC/DC listened to her. No other band has changed lead singers and had as little trouble or as much success as AC/DC.
2)The mass appeal of the album.
Almost everybody knows at least one song on this album, no matter what their race, religion, or musical preference is. "You Shook Me All Night Long" can be heard in just about every night club in the world in one form or another. The title track is played at some point during every sporting event around the globe. "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" and "Have A Drink On Me" fall into this category as well.
Very few albums by one artist can claim this fact. Granted, many groups have one or two songs that may be well known, but everybody knows about "Back in Black."
3)It stays true to formula.
You may laugh at this comparison, but it's the best I can come up with: AC/DC is to hard rock as George Strait is to country music. Neither stray too far from their standard sound. George Strait always puts out good honky-tonk and Texas swing. AC/DC always puts out hard-hitting rock. Both have hit after hit using the same formula on each album. Most bands will attempt something new, which isn't bad, but AC/DC will always play hard rock because that is what they do best. They could have changed their sound, especially with the addition of a new frontman, but they stuck to their guns and made an album that is what it is: hard rock.
Can you name a ballad by AC/DC? You'd be hard pressed to find one. The band may not have moving lyrics, but they can rock. By staying true to themselves, the band has made its mark in music history.
In closing, I have to say that "Back In Black" is crucial to any music library. It can hold its own against any album out there. It is just as important as any album by the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Sr., or any performer considered to be a trailblazer or legend in their respective genre. You can scoff at me for that statement, but I believe every word of it.
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