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Five of AC/DC’s Most Underrated Riffs

With the recent passing of AC/DC’s founder, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter, Malcolm Young, it’s a good time to look back on the band’s massive body of work and the riffs Malcolm came up with. With no less than 17 studio albums, the enduring Aussie rockers have a ton of high voltage tracks. But we’re going to look at five of the most underrated riffs penned by Malcolm Young. Needless to say, there really isn’t a bad riff in AC/DC’s entire canon (just a few repetitions).

Bedlam in Belgium

Buried as the eighth song on the underrated Flick of the Switch album, “Bedlam in Belgium” has an absolutely swinging riff, which was a hallmark of Malcolm’s writing. Like many AC/DC songs, it opens with one guitar playing the main riff, then a second joins in for the third bar and, boom it really kicks in. Of note is the lyrics are a true story from a 1977 concert in Belgium.

Given the Dog a Bone

Pretty much every song from 1980’s Back in Black album is very good. However, “Given the Dog A Bone” is a track that may get glossed over, but it’s actually a killer song with a killer riff that Malcolm wrote. The boogie of the main riff perfectly compliments Brian Johnson’s lascivious lyrics of receiving oral sex from a less than good looking woman (“She’s no Mona Lisa, no, she’s no Playboy star”).

Send for the Man

Suffice it to say, the riff on “Send for the Man” is one of the band’s heaviest. It’s the final song on 1985’s Fly on the Wall album and many teenagers were banging their heads to that record in the summer of ’85. The opening riff on “Send for the Man” with its potent power chords is a tribute to how amazing Malcolm Young was because it’s simple, yet powerful.

Riff Raff

One of Malcolm’s signature boogie riffs, the relentless “Riff Raff” is found on AC/DC’s amazing Powerage album. The first minute of that song is the definition of what an AC/DC song is all about: the riff intro, the build up, then the foot-stomping release and boogie as the song gets going.

Go Down

It might be a misnomer to consider the opening track of 1977”s Let There be Rock’ is underrated, but “Go Down” is one of those songs nobody ever talks about (and according to setlistfm.com, they’ve only played it once in concert, ever), yet it’s the first song on one of their finest older albums. The riff is the epitome of AC/DC chord structure back then with a blues based influence made heavy and menacing with that trademark added boogie element.

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

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