Every 10-List that I compile is what I refer to as a “production” post. While the resulting product may seem like something I slapped together in a white-hot rush, it actually takes time for me to create it. If I have integrity at all, I have to demonstrate it to myself first. Before I can slap the adjective “favorite” on a list of anything, I must honestly determine that the listed items are, indeed, my favorites.
At least, on the day the list is published they are my favorites.
Here is the methodology used to compile this current list.
I went through AC/DC’s entire song catalogue and jotted down all of the titles that said “best of the best” to me. I listened to every song and ended up with a list of twenty-two songs. That is an efficient first cut. That longer list has been sitting in a computer file for the past seven months.
Only seven AC/DC albums were represented, from their US debut High Voltage in 1975 to 1990’s The Razor’s Edge, even though I had listened to every studio album.Then I went through the entire list, comparing each song to the next on the list, asking myself “which do I like more, A or B?” In this fashion I developed a semi-ranked list to come up with my Top 10. Along the way I lost such favorite tunes as “Whole Lotta Rosie,” “Highway to Hell,” and “Hells Bells.” Eight entire studio albums didn’t even make the cut (ten, sort of, if you count the two Australia-only releases, although “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock ‘n’ Roll)” and “T.N.T.” were also on 1975’s T.N.T.).
Back in Black was probably hit the hardest, since seven tracks from that album were originally on my list of twenty-two, almost a full third of the list. Only two tracks made the final cut.
A brief aside: I’ve always said that Back in Black is my favorite AC/DC album, and this longer list bears that out. However, Bon Scott is my favorite lead singer for the band by a good margin. The list bears that out as well since he’s the frontman on six out of the final ten tracks.
I have included the other twelve tracks from the longer list at this end of this article as “honorable mentions.”
“It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” High Voltage (1975)
Whoever said you can’t have bagpipe music in a rock ‘n’ roll song never heard this one from AC/DC’s international debut. It was also on their second Australia-only release. Yes, that is Bon Scott playing the pipes.
“T.N.T.” High Voltage (1975)
Another track from the band’s second Aussie-only release, which also appeared on their first international release High Voltage. If you’re ever asked to describe the AC/DC sound, this is the song you should refer the asker to. It is the quintessence of AC/DC, from the repeated “Oi” to its aggressive, sleazy and fun lyrics.
“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
Something I didn’t know until today: the title to this song comes from the 1962 Bob Clampett cartoon Beany and Cecil, which Angus Young had watched as a child. One of the characters in the cartoon, named Dishonest John, carried a business card which read “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” This inspired a fun tune about hiring a hitman to take care of your problems.
“Go Down” Let There Be Rock (1977)
Another AC/DC song about sex. You’d be challenged to find one that isn’t, at least in part. Ruby, Ruby, where you been so long?
“Touch Too Much” Highway to Hell (1979)
“She had the face of an angel, smiling with sin/The body of Venus with arms” The first time I heard these lyrics, I laughed out loud. The image of the Venus de Milo with its broken arms was etched into my brain, and this sort of visual imagery would be sorely missed after Bon Scott died the year following this album’s release.
“Walk All Over You” Highway to Hell (1979)
You’ve heard me say that Back in Black was my favorite AC/DC album. This album is a very close second. Songs such as this one and “Touch Too Much” are the reasons why. Both albums were produced by Mutt Lange. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
“Back in Black” Back in Black (1980)
Bon was dead, but the boys in AC/DC didn’t spend too long mourning his passing. Brian Johnson does an excellent job as the new lead singer, but his best work—in my opinion—was on this album. Back in Black is my favorite AC/DC album, with seven of its tracks ending up on the long list of twenty-two. Although Bon Scott doesn’t receive a writing credit on the album, there are some people who claim that they saw some of the lyrics to these songs in his “notebook.” When I look at the lyrics to some of the songs that came after, I don’t find this difficult to believe.
From the opening eight count on the hi-hat and an unforgettable guitar riff from the Young brothers, this track sounded iconic the first time I heard it. It is a tribute to the late singer and still kicks ass.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” Back in Black (1980)
This song was ruined for me—for a time—after I saw Celine Dion perform it live on television. I have since recovered, but it hasn’t been easy. Again, with lyrics like “knocking me out with those American thighs,” it becomes easy to believe that Bon Scott was still writing lyrics from the grave.
“For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981)
The follow up to Back in Black wasn’t as loaded with favorite songs, but it did have this one and “Evil Walks.” The album did reach #1 on the US Billboard charts, but it represented a huge drop in US sales after its predecessor, which was eventually certified 25X Platinum by the RIAA in 2019. AC/DC would have another US #1 with the Walmart exclusive Black Ice in 2008. An okay album, even though none of its songs made the list.
“Thunderstruck” The Razor’s Edge (1990)
There are three albums between For Those About to Rock We Salute You and The Razor’s Edge, and nine years. Since 1990 there have been five albums and thirty-two years. Safe to say that we’ve heard the band at its peak of popularity and power, and it’s been mostly downhill since 1981, with a few bright spots. “Thunderstruck” was one of these bright spots. Since I can’t hear the song without picturing that man from the viral video playing it on flaming bagpipes, I have to accept the reality that this may be why it’s become one of my favorite songs. “Money Talks” made the long list as well, though, and I don’t think there are any flaming bagpipe videos of that one.
And the as-promised honorable mentions:
“Problem Child” Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
“Whole Lotta Rosie” Let There Be Rock (1977)
“Let There Be Rock” Let There Be Rock (1977)
“Girls Got Rhythm” Highway to Hell (1979)
“Highway to Hell” Highway to Hell (1979)
“Given the Dog a Bone” Back in Black (1980)
“Hells Bells” Back in Black (1980)
“Shake a Leg” Back in Black (1980)
“Shoot to Thrill” Back in Black (1980)
“Have a Drink on Me” Back in Black (1980)
“Evil Walks” For Those About to Rock We Salute You (1981)
“Money Talks” The Razor’s Edge (1990)
One thought on “10-List: Firewater’s Favorite AC/DC Tracks”
It is soooo tough for me to rank these, but I enjoyed reading your list here. Great band!
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