I Was Terrified of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell,’ But Now I Love It! | Album Review

I went out of order with my AC/DC album reviews, so I already reviewed Powerage (1978) back in June 2020. Feel free to check out that review and see how far I’ve come with my AC/DC knowledge, haha. The next album on the agenda is Highway to Hell (1979), an album that is the most nostalgic for me. Well, at least the album cover is.

My dad had Highway to Hell and Back in Black (1980) in his collection and had them lying around his coffee table. I remember the Highway to Hell album cover so vividly because I was terrified of it! Every time I saw that pic of Angus with his devil horns and big lips, and Mal giving you the death stare, I turned the other way. I avoided that album for a reason, and once I got into rock music in 2018, I’ve regretted it ever since. To think I was scared of Mal back then is pretty funny because he wasn’t a scary guy at all! 

I mean, how did I think this guy was scary? He was adorable; look at him!

Ok, enough about that! I only knew “Highway to Hell” because almost every movie with people trying to be bada** played it (Wild Hogs and Megamind). I liked the sound of it, and Wild Hogs is one of my favorite movies, so I got into it over time. It took me about eight years to search up the song, but hey, it’s better late than never. Little did I know that “Highway to Hell” was only the beginning!

The album starts with the classic title track, and that riff sounds like it came from the devil himself. Bon Scott screams like there’s no tomorrow, and you can’t even understand a word he’s singing. But his unique voice and attitude give the track an edge. The next song, “Girls Got Rhythm,” was a game-changer for me. The fingerwork for the riff got me hooked because I’ve never heard anything like it before, and Mal plays it like a boss! Scott woos the ladies with his charm and goes on about why he can’t live without them.

“Walk All Over You” has a nice drum intro from Phil Rudd, and the verses are faster-paced, but it slows down for the chorus. The backing vocals were so good that I thought Mal and Cliff Williams were American for a second because I couldn’t hear their accents. I don’t care for “Touch Too Much” because it sounds like they are just singing the title nonstop (even though there were more words than that), and it’s just a boring mid-tempo track. “Beating Around the Bush” has a fast riff, and Rudd keeps time effortlessly. Scott’s lyrics are humorous and playful, so the audience can interpret them however they like.

I know Rudd performed “Shot Down in Flames” a few times with his band, so I think of him every time I hear it. For the longest time, I couldn’t make out the lyrics for the chorus when it was just “Shot down in flames / Shot down in flames / Ain’t it a shame / To be shot down in flames.” Rudd lays down the groove, and I am a sucker for his loose hi-hat sound. AC/DC created plenty of fun dance tracks, whether they like it or not, one of them being “Get it Hot.” It has a great melody, playful lyrics, and a steady beat. My only complaint is that it’s a bit short as it is only two and a half minutes. 

“If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” has a good build-up with the main riff and the drums before Scott screams up a storm. It is a fun headbanger, and compared to the title track, “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” is the next best thing to feeling like a bada**! The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek, and the main riff is killer. “Love Hungry Man” is another boring mid-tempo track with a weird title, and the words don’t help much. However, it does have a subtle bass riff, Angus does a tasteful guitar solo, and I like the second half of the song better than the first half.

“Night Prowler” has a haunting feel to it, it’s very blues-oriented, and Scott’s vocals send chills down your spine. The song is known for being associated with the serial killer Richard Ramírez, who claimed it inspired him to commit his vicious killings. Nicknamed the “Night Stalker,” Ramírez gave the song a bad rep when it’s really about sneaking into your girlfriend’s bedroom window when her parents are sleeping. The controversy behind “Night Prowler” makes me like it even more.

Highway to Hell is AC/DC’s last album with Scott on vocals, as he passed away due to a heavy night of drinking on February 19, 1980. Although tragic, Scott ended his run with the band on a high note because he delivered some mad pipes on this album (despite not understanding half of what he was singing). Sadly, I couldn’t hear the bass, except on a couple of songs. I have bad ears for bass players; I’m sorry, Cliff, you know I love you, man! But overall, Highway the Hell is a brilliant record; Mutt Lange produced it, so how can I not love it? Therefore, I’d give this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Comment below your favorite track from AC/DC’s Highway to Hell!

Take care and see ya real soon!

Lana

32 thoughts on “I Was Terrified of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell,’ But Now I Love It! | Album Review

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  1. Love this album!! Love almost anything by Mutt though. Favorite tracks, I will take all of Side A and the entire Side B. Ok, that isn’t playing fair, but too early to judge which track I like best. Great write-up Lana!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shot Down in Flames has to be one of the coolest song names ever. Also, welcome to my site. You’re just in time for a Judas Priest extravaganza tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank goodness! You don’t know how many times I had to fix my descriptions for each song, making sure it made sense haha. I know some people like “Touch Too Much” and that’s cool, again I like when we like different things because it’d be boring if we were all the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh nice! Yeah, I think Highway to Hell is their best album cover for the same reasons why I was afraid of it years ago. How’d you get a baby’s vest with the album cover though? Do they sell those?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh nice! Bon Jovi made me curious about what New Jersey is like, so that’s cool! I’m jealous, we don’t have many record stores in my home area. And Hot Topic is the closest thing I have for band tees and merch (besides department stores). Motorhead and Slayer vests nice, that’s awesome getting him into metal at a young age!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Bon Jovi is from the opposite end of the state I grew up in. They’re from North Jersey which is basically an extension of New York City. I’m from the Southern part which is definitely more rural. Yes, I’m out to corrupt my grandson, he’s nearly three.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Shameless plug of my book: Rock and Roll Children does give insight to what it was like living in South Jersey in the 1980s, not very good for metalheads. As far as growing up, I lived in several different places in the South Jersey area, some were okay, some weren’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It’s scary how some places have horrible people and you never know what to expect when you move to a new place (or a new school in my case). Sorry you were bullied in your old town.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you Lana, it’s an intimidating album cover. I hope to touch on this in two weeks with Brent Jensen. He mentions in his book, the picture of Gene Simmons spitting up blood on the cover of Alive II really drew his attention. But to some kids in my neighbourhood, it scared them off Kiss for a while.

    You have the same remastered CDs that I collect. They’re pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you guys might cover Highway to Hell in two weeks? That’d be cool since it’s one of the best rock records to ever exist. I can see how the Gene spitting up blood can be unsettling. For adults, it may be cool, but not for kids, like you said.

      Didn’t Kiss say they didn’t want to be a kids’ band though?

      Oh nice! Yeah I’m not sure what the original sounds like compared to the remastered CD, but I like my copy. Holen was talking to me about remasters and how nowadays they just make the sound louder, not really improving production and getting rid of the dynamics.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No Kiss never said they wanted to be a kids’ band. That’s an image they struggled with.

        I hope to bring up the album cover stuff in two weeks — we’ll see how it goes!

        SOME remasters do that…not all.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok, yeah I watched a Kiss documentary and I think they talked about with all the costumes, comic books, and merch, they were deemed as a kids band, which they were not satisfied with.

        Either way, Brent Jensen! It should be an aswesome show, as usual.

        Ok some remasters but not all. I can kinda see where he was coming from. But my remasters are fine so far. Therefore, I can’t agree with that statement entirely. I did bring up though that when I got into Queen and I downloaded some of their songs, the remasters were louder than the original versions.

        Like

  4. I remember when the internet was new and looking up lyrics for songs was definitely a priority sing many albums did not come with a lyric sheet. I remember looking up “Shot Down in Flames” and many choruses were filled with ??????, lol

    There is not a single track I don’t enjoy on this one. I even like “Touch Too Much!”
    “The body of Venus with arms” makes up for the repeated title, lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok so it wasn’t odd of me not to know what the heck Bon Scott was singing in that song, haha! Good to know!

      Ok yeah the lyrics, Scott’s lyrics are clever and playful in that one. His lyrics were gold on that record.

      Liked by 1 person

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