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AC/DC’s Most Underrated Songs with Brian Johnson

AC/DC’s body of work with Brian Johnson on vocals is impressive, to say the least. With Johnson replacing Bon Scott after he died in 1980, and making his debut on the monster Back In Black album, the Aussie rockers have cranked out some huge hits,. However, it’s not the hits we are looking at but the five of the most underrated tracks during the Johnson era featuring his distinct bluesy, raspy vocal style.

Flick of the Switch (1983)

The title track to the Flick of the Switch album is such a powerhouse song. Malcolm Young’s riff carries things along at a solid pace, while Johnson’s wailing vocals are perfect, as usual, although it’s hard to decipher exactly what’s he saying in the verses. The song was actually the second single from the record. It got some airplay and video play, but many critics panned it and the rest of the album because it didn’t sound as refined as its predecessor, For Those About To Rock, which was produced by Mutt Lange. But the song embodies exactly what the Young brothers wanted the album to sound like: Big and Raw with no studio recording tricks.

Fly on the Wall (1985)

While hair metal was becoming all the rage in 1985, AC/DC were still doing their thing, cranking out great hard rock records. The title track to 1985’s “Fly on the Wall” record is such an infectious song, you want to listen to it over and over again. Brian Johnson is an absolute force on this song (listen to him screaming the last chorus), and it’s the first time fans heard a drummer (Simon Wright) other than Phil Rudd play on an AC/DC album after Rudd was fired after recording his parts on Flick of the Switch.

Have A Drink On Me (1980)

With lyrics penned by Brian Johnson, “Have A Drink On Me” can certainly be seen as an ode of sorts to Bon Scott who choked on his own vomit after drinking too much on the night of Feb. 19, 1980 at a London club. While some say the band shouldn’t have celebrated booze so soon after Scott’s death, you kind of know Scott would relish this song and “forget about the cheque, we’ll get hell to pay”. This romping, all-out celebration of alcohol is AC/DC at their typical, rocking best, with a cool, lurching kind of riff that sort of mimics a stumbling drunk.

Snowballed (1981)

An often overlooked track from the amazing For Those About To Rock album, “Snowballed” is one of AC/DC’s most up-tempo songs, and Johnson’s delivery during the verses is nothing short of amazing in the intensity he delivers to the lyrics. Then he’s at his howling best as the song comes to a close. Certainly Angus Young gets most of the attention and kudos when it comes to AC/DC, but Johnson shows here why he was one of the best hard rock singers of all time.

Bedlam in Belgium (1983)

Another great track off the unheralded Flick of the Switch record, Bedlam in Belgium boasts a bouncy riff, a powerful chorus and lyrics based on a real-life event from back in the Bon Scott days when AC/DC played a one-off gig at Kontich, Belgium in 1977. There was a strict 10 pm curfew in the town, but the band was still rocking and a near riot erupted as police tried to stop the show. According to reports it was Angus who got cracked in the back by a cop as he duck-walked through the crowd after jumping off the stage after being told the show was over. Needless to say, it’s a great story from the band’s earlier days, and certainly an underrated AC/DC song.

Check out more of Cam Maxwell’s Rock ‘N Roll Insight.

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