The title track to this record is a rock-‘n’-roll / hard rock anthem! It’s opening riff is recognizable instantly! And stadiums, arenas, and ballparks around the world play this great song! Highway to Hell, unlike AC/DC’s previous five albums (and one LP), was produced by “Mutt” Lang, a legendary producer even at this early stage in his career. It was recorded at Chalk Farm, North London in March 1979, and released July 27, 1979. Mutt and the band changed just about everything the band was doing up to that point. AC/DC had been touring all over Australia and Europe by this time, but their evolution (even Bon Scott’s vocals) transformed into something they had never even thought about. Imagine, Mutt giving Scott vocal lessons!! Or Angus (Young) guitar lessons! Yet, that’s what happened, and it formed one of the greatest records of all time. Atlantic Records hated the album name, and the album cover released in Australia (the worldwide released cover, with addition of flames and a bass guitar neck) was no different (see Australian album cover above)!
The record had a less than serious theme: Love Hungry Man, Girls Got Rhythm, Beating Around the Bush, Touch Too Much, Walk All Over You, Get It Hot, and Shot Down In Flames are all metaphors (or otherwise insinuating) sex. The three remaining songs are stand alone themes: Highway to Hell, believe it or not, is about the band’s life on the road. If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) is a titled borrowed from the band’s previous live record and it speaks to the fact that AC/DC will always give you everything that they have when they play live. And Night Prowler became quite controversial quickly! The serial killer, Richard Ramirez, nick-named “The Night Stalker,” was a huge AC/DC fan, and the song and the maniac will forever be intertwined. The band says that this song, too, is about sex, but that doesn’t explain the lyric, “…And you don’t feel the steel till it’s hanging out your back!”
The record was certified 7X platinum by RIAA in 2006. Tracks from this album are featured in eight movies, as a soundtrack for a video game, and as a theme song for the WWE SummerSlam (1998). The record peaked at #17 on the US Too 100. And it is the second highest selling AC/DC album of all time (right behind Back In Black, released a year later).
Within months of the release of Highway to Hell, Bon Scott literally drank himself to death, dying of alcohol poisoning on Feb. 18/19, 1980. AC/DC remained Angus Young – lead guitar; Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals; Phil Rudd – drums; and Cliff Williams – Bass guitar, backing vocals with the addition of Brian Johnson taking up vocals soon after the tragedy.
Favorite songs: Highway to Hell; Girls Got Rhythm; Beating Around the Bush