It was early 1981 and my Dad received an offer from Columbia House to join the Columbia Records Club. For one penny a person could get eleven vinyl records by joining this music club. Better yet, fill in the "secret bonus" 12th box with your album of choice and you got an additional album for free. Nevermind the marketing ploy here that you would be committed to buy additional albums at full catalog price in the months to follow...my dad was about to receive a dozen albums from his favorite bands all at once. So many albums were about to come through the door, that my Dad let my sister and me each pick out a record for ourselves. Whether my Dad liked my choice or not I can't remember, but I picked AC/DC's Back in Black.
I'm pretty sure Back in Black was the first vinyl record I personally owned that wasn't given to me as a hand-me down record. As a typical teen in the 1980's I would buy the occasional vinyl record but the majority of music purchases to follow would be on cassette tape and compact disc. By the end of the 1990's all my vinyl records could be found in a storage box never played as I preferred the newer formats.
Those records stayed in that box for two decades until the current vinyl revival began when sales for LPs once again on the increase. On the insistence of my teenage son a couple years ago, I brought my records out of the closet for him to see. The very first album I pulled out of the box was my 40-year old AC/DC album. Within a few days after letting my records see the light, I bought a new turntable for my stereo system and rediscovered my joy of listening to music that didn't come from a streaming service.
Back in Black is the seventh studio album by the heavy-metal rock band AC/DC and released in the summer of 1980. This was also the first album featuring Brian Johnson following the death of lead singer Bon Scott (Scott died from alcohol poisoning after a drinking binge). While I had never put the two together, according to Wikipedia the album's all-black cover was designed as a "sign of mourning" for Scott. Since then, the album has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide and is considered the second best-selling album in music history.
Almost all the songs on this album are good with many of my favorite including "Shoot to Thrill", "Back in Black", "You Shook Me All Night Long", and "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution". While yet a popular and good song, I've never fully embraced the first track on this album, "Hells Bells". I don't know if it's the slow tolling of the bell forcing the listener to pause when they came to rock or growing up Roman Catholic being uncomfortable with the word hell in the title, but "Hells Bells" is my least favorite on the album. All ten tracks on this album are written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Brian Johnson.
While I have a number of other AC/DC albums on cassette tape and CDs, I only have one additional album from the band on vinyl record. That album is also AC/DC's 17th and latest studio album, Power Up (also titled PWR/UP in some collections). Similar to the Back in Black, this album is also a tribute album to Malcolm Young who died in 2017.
Every track on Power Up is credited to Angus and Malcolm Young with Angus pulling most of the songs for the album from an archive of their unreleased songs. While the songs on this album have less history with fans, every one of them is recognizable as a classic AC/DC songs especially "Kick You When You're Down" and "Code Red". Power Up is a great album to have in your collect.
If 40 years ago I had been asked by you if I would be still buying new albums by AC/DC released on vinyl in 2020, I would have laughed. I would then have replied back: Hell's bells, I think vinyl records and AC/DC will be long retired by then. Today, I'm so glad my opinion would be found invalid.
This article was originally published at the After Work Pub.