Few bands can tout the quality of output better than AC/DC in the Bon Scott era. In his six short years fronting what would arguably become the biggest rock band on the planet, Scott-fronted AC/DC songs rarely, if ever, misfired.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of Scott’s passing, and in the spirit of said rock ’n’ roll singer, I’ve compiled a list of 10 underappreciated and often unsung Bon Scott-era AC/DC tunes.
The criteria used for this list was simple:
No hit (or overplayed radio) songs.
No setlist staples (songs that have been played live on multiple tours).
Plenty of other Bon Scott tunes could have been included on this list, but these are my (current, and it’s ever-changing) 10 favorites.
Shoot me a tweet (@BLiskoREP) and let me know which Bon Scott-era AC/DC tunes you love the most. And to find out much more on the legacy and the mysterious death of Bon Scott, check out Jesse Fink’s exhaustively-researched tome, “Bon: The Last Highway,” and scope Fink’s recent “Talk is Jericho” appearance linked here.
10. “Can I Sit Next To You Girl” (from 1975’s “T.N.T.” and 1976’s “High Voltage)
“Can I Sit Next To You Girl” was AC/DC’s debut single first released in 1974 with original singer Dave Evans. But the track took on totally new life and completely upped its sleaze factor (“Let me take you home,” “Lick your ear”) with Scott at the mic. It’s barroom boogie, for sure, but features a far busier guitar riff than most AC/DC tracks. Rhythm guitar icon and band mastermind, Malcolm Young, also played a rare solo in the song’s intro section.
9. “Overdose” (from 1977’s “Let There Be Rock”)
Fresh off the rejection of their third album (“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”) by Atlantic Records, AC/DC returned to the studio understandably pissed off. But would they soften their sound to make their music more palatable for American radio? Fuck no! AC/DC did the exact opposite and recorded their most intense and balls-out album ever. “Overdose,” with its brooding intro and bombastic guitar work, is one of its fiercest tracks.
8. “Ride On” (from 1976’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”)
The riff is clearly borrowed from ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” but Scott’s lyrics and delivery make “Ride On” the closest thing to a ballad AC/DC has ever done (the awkward “Love Song” notwithstanding). You don’t sing lyrics like “Another empty bottle and another empty bed” unless you’ve lived it. Sadly, Bon Scott never did totally change his “evil ways,” and he died just four short years later.
7. “Love Hungry Man” (from 1979’s “Highway to Hell”)
With “Highway to Hell,” AC/DC brought in producer Mutt Lange (their first producer outside of Angus’ and Malcolm’s brother, George Young, and his partner, Harry Vanda), and his influence is all over “Love Hungry Man.” The band admittedly weren’t really fans of this song, as it is decidedly poppier than anything they had done to that point. But with its funky bass line, driving riffs and scorching vocal delivery by Scott, “Love Hungry Man” has aged exceptionally well.
6. “Go Down” (from 1977’s “Let There Be Rock”)
The greatest and perhaps sleaziest tune ever written about getting a blow job. Famed Australian groupie, Ruby Lips, named checked in the first line of the song, must have been quite exceptional at “lickin’ at that lickin’ stick,” and musically, the song just murders.
5. “Gimme A Bullet” (from 1978’s “Powerage”)
There’s a good argument to be had that every song from “Powerage” could have been included on this list (and two more will be). Lyrically, the album is Bon Scott at his absolute peak, and “Gimme A Bullet,” with its groovy bassline, and upbeat music is a well-disguised and poetic tale of heartbreak. “Operator, long-distance lips, on the telephone, come tomorrow, come to grips, with being all alone,” is about as gut-wrenching as it gets. If you’ve lived it, you know exactly what Scott was going through.
4. “Girls Got Rhythm” (from 1979’s “Highway to Hell”)
“Girls Got Rhythm,” and most of the “Highway to Hell” album, is AC/DC entering its commercial peak. This track is a four-on-the-floor rocker that’s just about everything you could want in an AC/DC song.
3. “Touch Too Much” (from 1979’s “Highway to Hell”)
When Mutt Lange arrived, AC/DC was skeptical about letting an outsider into their camp. But the commercial viability he helped the band achieve served as the blueprint for AC/DC’s worldwide takeover. “Touch Too Much” is a more accessible version of the band but no less ballsy, and Scott’s lyrics (“It was one of those nights when you turn out the lights, and everything comes into view”) paint a vivid picture.
2. “Riff Raff” (from 1978’s “Powerage”)
One of the greatest rock ’n’ roll riffs ever is set up by an almost-cinematic introduction and later complemented by an off-beat drum pattern (a super rarity for AC/DC) and a busier-than-usual bass line. “Riff Raff” is arguably the greatest AC/DC set opener ever, and it’s positively criminal that the band didn’t play the song live from 1978 until Axl Rose showed up to fill in for Brian Johnson.
1. “Gone Shootin’ (from 1978’s “Powerage”)
A song that eerily foreshadowed Scott’s demise, “Gone Shootin’” is about Scott’s gal pal overdosing on heroin. The catchy-as-hell main riff is seeped in the blues, and Scott’s lyrics are pure poetry. This is the quintessential AC/DC track.
And five more Bon Scott-era tunes that could easily be swapped into this list: “Bad Boy Boogie,” “There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin,’ ” “Down Payment Blues,” “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It),” “Rock ’n’ Roll Singer.”
You can check out more content from WebIsJericho.com below, and be sure to follow WIJ on Facebook and Twitter for all our latest posts.