Now that I’ve reviewed all of AC/DC’s international studio albums, it’s time to rank them all! Which ones do I like and which ones do I dislike? If you haven’t checked out my AC/DC reviews, I will link them all down below, including the DVD/Blu-ray reviews. As a warning, I’ve changed my thoughts on some of these albums since I reviewed them, so not all of the reviews match my current feelings. Without further or do, let’s get on with the rankings!
16. Blow Up Your Video (1988)
In my opinion, Blow Up Your Video is the worst AC/DC album ever! Not just because I couldn’t vibe with the singles, but also, it felt very disorganized, due to what was happening at the time. Former rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young, was suffering from alcoholism and it got so bad that it started to affect his playing. As a result, Mal took a break from touring for a bit, so Mal and Angus’ nephew, Stevie Young, filled in for Mal for the remainder of the Blow Up Your Video tour. Don’t even get me started on the song titles (“Kissin’ Dynamite,” just why?!?!)! Besides one or two good tracks, the album is pretty much forgettable. My favorite track on Blow Up Your Video is “Go Zone.”
15. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
If I were talking about the Australian version, I would’ve ranked Dirty Deeds higher because that version has “Jailbreak.” But no, the international version decided not to include “Jailbreak” for some stupid reason. Songs like “There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin,’” “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting ‘Round to Be a Millionaire),” and “Squealer” felt very dissatisfying and they dragged on forever. The riffs were cool, but the lyrics weren’t all there, and I couldn’t understand a word Bon Scott was singing. My favorite track on Dirty Deeds is “Ride On.”
14. Rock or Bust (2014)
I had trouble reviewing Rock or Bust because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say about all of the tracks. Also, I am a big fan of Phil Rudd’s drumming because his hi-hat sound is pure gold, so knowing what was going on behind the scenes making the album, that turned me off quite a bit. More bad luck happened following the album’s release. Besides Rudd not participating in the Rock or Bust tour, singer Brian Johnson had to step down from touring (following the fifth leg) or risk hearing loss, and bassist Cliff Williams retired from the music industry by the end of the tour. Like Blow Up Your Video, this record felt disorganized, and cursed, apparently. My favorite track on Rock or Bust is “Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder.”
13. The Razors Edge (1990)
The only reason why I put The Razors Edge higher than Rock or Bust is because “Thunderstruck” is such a bada** track, and it starts the album too, holy cow! One of my biggest complaints with this album is that some of the songs have weird phrasings; “Let’s Make It” is an example of that. “Let’s make it, don’t waste it / Let’s make it, come on and taste it.” However, the main reason why I hate this record is because I’m not a fan of Chris Slade’s drumming. His drums, especially his snare, had a tight sound, so there was no room to breathe. I’ll say this, though, there are some fine riffs on this record. My favorite track on The Razors Edge is of course, “Thunderstruck.”
12. Stiff Upper Lip (2000)
Looking at the setlist, the boys could’ve put the songs in a different order. To go from the headbanging title track to the slower paced (maybe sleepy) “Meltdown” is a bit disappointing. The last five tracks of the album are great, but the beginning of the album is boring. Not to mention that this album contains the worst AC/DC track they’ve ever written, “Safe in New York City.” I know the boys love repeating the title over and over again in their songs, but they took it a bit too far in that track. Johnson’s vocals are definitely more strained on Stiff Upper Lip compared to Ballbreaker, but thankfully, the boys improved the production and polished Johnson’s vocals more on the next record. My favorite track on Stiff Upper Lip, besides the title track is “Satellite Blues.”
11. Fly on the Wall (1985)
On the subject on Johnson’s vocals, I can’t understand a word he’s singing on this record. I get that the band was aiming for a more raw sound with Fly on the Wall, but they could’ve added something to make Johnson’s vocals more distinguishable. The album starts off with two bangers, the title track and “Shake Your Foundations,” but then it sinks downhill afterwards. “Danger” is a lame attempt at creating a public service announcement and “Sink the Pink” has the most annoying AC/DC riff I’ve ever heard. Fly on the Wall was another weird time for the band because they decided to do these strange music videos that occurred at a bar and they focused on clueless people with cheesy plots. My favorite track on Fly on the Wall is “Shake Your Foundations.”
10. Power Up (2020)
Power Up is a record that saved 2020 and marked the return of the Rock or Bust lineup of AC/DC. It was the first record the band did following Mal’s death, and they did him justice. The production is nice and polished, Williams had his moments on the bass, and Rudd’s hi-hat brought familiarity to this record. Despite “Demon Fire” being annoying as heck, there are some catchy tunes on here. From the melodic “Through the Mists of Time” to the funky “Kick You When You’re Down” to the groovy “Code Red.” After the hardships the band faced from their last record, AC/DC proved that nothing could stop their rock ‘n’ roll train. My favorite track on Power Up is “Through the Mists of Time.”
9. Powerage (1978)
Powerage will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first AC/DC record I bought with my own money. What’s cool about this record is that it contains a lot of hidden gems that the band hardly plays. There are bangers like “Up to My Neck in You,” “Sin City,” “Down Payment Blues,” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation.” I love the heavy distortion on this record and Scott’s lyrics are very creative (“Gimme a bullet to bite on, and I’ll make believe / I’ll make believe it’s you”). It was William’s first record with AC/DC, so it stands out for that as well. My favorite track on Powerage is “Gone Shootin;’” if you don’t bob your head to that song, then you’re a crazy person!
8. Black Ice (2008)
Compared to Stiff Upper Lip, Black Ice is quite an improvement! The songs were more memorable, the riffs were very melodic, and overall, it’s a very commercial album. For Malcolm Young’s (unknowingly) last album, he went out with a bang. “Anything Goes,” “Skies on Fire,” “War Machine,” and “Smash ‘n’ Grab” are all terrific. The only thing is the album has a lot of filler tracks and they recycled a lot of the same riffs over and over again. But I cut the boys some slack because again, it was Mal’s last record with them. My favorite track on Black Ice is “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train.”
7. Let There Be Rock (1977)
Let There Be Rock is a solid rock record filled with big power chords, heavy distortion, simplistic drumming, and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. While the title track and “Whole Lotta Rosie” get all the attention, I really dig “Go Down,” “Bad Boy Boogie,” and “Problem Child.” There are no fillers on this album, maybe a few tracks I like more than others, but it’s still a fun record. Though I’m not crazy about Scott, I admire that he wasn’t afraid to be himself and that he brought his playful personality to all of the songs he sung with AC/DC. My favorite track on Let There Be Rock is “Bad Boy Boogie.”
6. High Voltage (1976)
Technically, High Voltage is a compilation of the band’s first two records. So it contains the best tracks from High Voltage and T.N.T (both from 1975); maybe that’s why I like this record so much. “Can I Sit Next to You Girl” is still an odd one for me (and the title is cheesy as heck), but the other tracks on here are great and they go well together. Since High Voltage is really early in the band’s career, Scott’s lyrics are not the best, especially on “The Jack,” but it is cool to see where he was at and how far he’s come since then. This record features a young band of dudes that was ready to take over the world of rock ‘n’ roll. My favorite track on High Voltage is “T.N.T.”
5. Highway to Hell (1979)
I thought I was going to rank Highway to Hell much higher, but unfortunately, there are a few filler tracks on this record that I can’t get into. Despite that, I can’t deny how great this record is. Besides having my favorite AC/DC album cover, this was Bon Scott’s last record with the boys, so it’s pretty historic. For the first two listens, I only liked the first three tracks, but by the sixth listen, I started to vibe with the other lesser known tracks like “Get It Hot,” “Beating Around the Bush,” and “Night Prowler.” Mutt Lange produced this record (and the next two AC/DC albums), so it’s not as raw and it’s more commercial, compared to their previous records. My favorite track on Highway to Hell is “Girls Got Rhythm.”
4. Back in Black (1980)
Back in Black isn’t the best thing the boys have done, shocker right? In all seriousness, it’s a great record, but some of these tracks are overplayed big time! This is a special record that I can only play at certain times, but whenever I do play it, I’m headbanging like there’s no tomorrow. Despite one filler, this album is packed with fresh and melodic riffs from the Young brothers, and Rudd’s hi-hat brought the right amount of flavor to them. “Shoot to Thrill” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” are ok, but “What Do You Do For Money Honey” and “Have a Drink on Me” are f*cking great; talk about underrated gems that deserve more love. My favorite track on Back in Black is “What Do You Do For Money Honey.”
3. Flick of the Switch (1983)
Going the opposite of what Mutt Lange does, the boys decided to create a raw and powerful record, and the result was Flick of the Switch. What I love about this record is the emphasis on the backing vocals. Mal and Williams sounded great on tracks like “Bedlam in Belgium,” “Nervous Shakedown,” and “Rising Power.” This record got a lot of hate because this was around the time when hair metal was taking over the mainstream; so the underappreciation aspect made me love it even more. My only complaint with this record is what up with the white album cover boys? Don’t you guys know that white stuff gets dirty easily? My favorite track on Flick of the Switch is “Nervous Shakedown.”
2. For Those About to Rock (1981)
Johnson’s vocals on this record are so intense that it’s almost painful to listen to. It’s like how was his throat not sore after singing those songs? Back in 2018, while scrolling through AC/DC songs on Spotify to put on my playlist, I stumbled upon “Snowballed” and “C.O.D.” from For Those About to Rock, and that record has held a special place in my heart since then. Of course, since Lange produced it, this record has a more polished sound, which I kind of like. The distortion wasn’t too heavy, yet I could hear every note the boys played crystal clearly. Rudd was on fire for this record; if someone says that he sucks as a drummer, play them “Inject the Venom” and see what happens. My favorite track on For Those About to Rock is “Let’s Get It Up.”
1. Ballbreaker (1995)
In my humble opinion, Ballbreaker is the best AC/DC album ever! A majority of why I like this record so much is because it marked the return of Phil Rudd on drums. Rudd was special because he wasn’t about speed or the crazy fills, but he had the feel and brought a swing to AC/DC’s sound. Going back to Ballbreaker, though, it’s a very chill record. Nothing too complicated, but the riffs are still catchy and melodic. Johnson’s vocals are strained and raspy, but they added a haunting feel to his performance, especially on “Boogie Man.” Mal and Angus got creative with the lyrics, which came with interesting results (Tonight I’m gonna kick up / Out drivin’ in a big truck / An’ maybe I’ll get beat up). My favorite track on Ballbreaker is “Hard as a Rock.”
I’m sure I irritated a lot of AC/DC fans in this post, so let me know in the comments below how you’d rank the band’s (international) studio albums!
Check out all of my AC/DC reviews too, while you’re at it!
AC/DC Album Review Series
AC/DC DVD/Blu-Ray Review Series
Take care and see ya real soon!