December 31, 1973: AC/DC Plays First Gig

On this day in 1973, AC/DC played its first gig at a club called Chequers in Sydney, Australia. Since then, the band has recorded and released 164 songs. A few years ago JAMSBIO Magazine posted a ranking of all 185 of The Beatles songs, and around that time, I took a shot at ranking AC/DC’s music.

Greetings! Sorry for the drop-off over the past two years, but I am back for the duration. On this day in 1973, AC/DC played its first gig at a club called Chequers in Sydney, Australia. Since then, the band has recorded and released 165 songs.ACDC in concert, Black Ice Tour

A few years ago JAMSBIO Magazine posted a ranking of all 185 of The Beatles songs, and around that time, I took a shot at ranking AC/DC’s music.

To give you an idea of my thought process, I gave each song a score, going as high as ten and going as low as three.  Only 14 songs received 10s and another 10 received a score of 3. For the record, I think AC/DC’s best album is “Back in Black” and its worst is “Ballbreaker.” I think the band’s best album with Bon Scott is “Powerage” and its best album since “Back in Black” is “For Those About to Rock.” The rankings reflect that.

Before I begin, I thought you might be interested to know that AC/DC has recorded 15 songs with the word “rock” in the title (17 if you count “Hard as a Rock” and “Whiskey on the Rocks”), five songs with “hell” in the title, and three songs with “ball” in the title.

So without further ado, let the countdown begin. If you agree or disagree with rankings, please feel free to comment.

165.  WheelsBlack Ice
With 15 tracks, “Black Ice” had the most songs of any AC/DC album. The band could have cut a few of them, starting with this one.

164.  Come and Get It Stiff Upper Lip
Nasally chorus will make you question whether you’ve hung on too long as a fan.

163.  Send for the ManFly on the Wall
The most unintelligible AC/DC song ever. Seriously.

162.  Got You by the Balls The Razor’s Edge
My friend Randy always loved to imitate the lyric writing session for this one.  “So Angus, I’ve got this woman and…”

161.  Caught with Your Pants DownBallbreaker
The song’s title is not the reason for the low ranking… but it doesn’t help.

160. Decibel Black Ice
The Washington Post said this was perhaps the most generic AC/DC song of all time.  I have to agree.

159. Danger Fly on the Wall
Tweak the lyrics a bit and this song could be a public service announcement about talking to strangers.

158. Touch Too Much Highway to Hell
This was the second single released off of “Highway to Hell.”  That’s a shame, considering the great songs on this album.

157.  Cover You in Oil Ballbreaker
I was 17 when the music video briefly appeared on MTV.  Considering all the influences out there at that time, it is a testament to my fanhood that I stuck with them.

156. If You Dare The Razor’s Edge
This 12th and last track on “The Razor’s Edge” could’ve been cut.

155.  Let’s Make It The Razor’s Edge
This one could’ve been cut too.

154.  Mistress for ChristmasThe Razor’s Edge
My wife heard this and said, “This isn’t bad. It’s just dumb.” 

153. Damned – Stiff Upper Lip
Technically, this is the sixth song that references hell.

152. Goodbye and Good Riddance to Bad LuckThe Razor’s Edge
You can download this song as a ringtone. Wonder if anybody ever has.

151. Go Zone Blow Up Your Video
FYI: This song is not about geography unless your map is the male anatomy.

150. Money MadeBlack Ice
Another forgettable track on the “Black Ice” album.

149.  Mean Streak Blow Up Your Video
Ditto, except apply this one to “Blow Up Your Video.”

148. Little LoverHigh Voltage
Bon Scott definitely had more range than Brian Johnson and was able to sing slower, bluesier songs. Unfortunately, this example is downright creepy.

147.  Two’s UpBlow Up Your Video
Song about menage a trois becomes laughable with 80s serious tone.

146.  House of Jazz Stiff Upper Lip
The band has more musical range than they are given credit for, but it still is a bit silly listening to AC/DC sing about a jazz.

145. The Honey RollBallbreaker
Notable for the opening line, “Honey roll over and lettuce on top.”

144. Get It HotHighway to Hell
Bonfire” the boxed-set tribute to Bon Scott, features an earlier version of this song… and it’s better.

143. Meltdown Stiff Upper Lip
Variation on the “sure is getting hot in here” line.

142. Deep in the HoleFlick of the Switch
Get your mind about of the gutter. This is a song about desperation.

141. Love Bomb Ballbreaker
However, I’ll give you three guesses as to what the “Love Bomb” is.

140. Love Hungry Man Highway to Hell
Another track that only Bon Scott could pull off.

139. Whiskey on the RocksBallbreaker
Very serious song about alcoholic beverages.

138.  Show Business ’74 Jailbreak
The live performance of this song, which can be found on the “Family Jewels” DVD is the version you want to see.

137.  Ruff Stuff Blow Up Your Video
I guess when you’re talking about wild sex, it’s okay to misspell.

136. First Blood – Fly on the Wall
Fun song, but drops a few notches for containing the lyrics “Some like it hot/Mmm some like it quite not so hot.”

135. Nervous ShakedownFlick of the Switch
This is one of the stripped-down videos from “Flick of the Switch” that appears on AC/DC’s “Family Jewels” video compilation. 

134. Kissin’ DynamiteBlow Up Your Video
Only makes it this high because give a new term for oral sex.

133. Stand UpFly on the Wall
Memorable only for the choreographed walk/dance in the “Fly on the Wall” short release with the album.

132. The Razors EdgeThe Razor’s Edge
AC/DC doesn’t always sing about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Sometimes they sing about war too.

131. You Ain’t Got a Hold on Me – ’74 Jailbreak
Bluesy gem of a song released after Bon Scott’s death is probably only appreciated by fans.

130. Crabsody in BlueLet There Be Rock (Australian and UK Versions)
Exactly what you think it’s about.

129. Skies on FireBlack Ice
Since AC/DC prides itself on making albums and not singles, it is crucial that the second track on the record doesn’t suck. Fortunately, this one is solid.

128. Can I Sit Next to You GirlHigh Voltage
Bon Scott perfectly captures the bad boy charming/revolting the girl in pearls.

127. Breaking the RulesFor Those About to Rock
Weakest song on an excellent album still doesn’t prompt a press of the skip button.

126. All Screwed UpStiff Upper Lip
Angry lament over confusing relationships as defined by AC/DC’s parameters.

125. Back in BusinessFly on the Wall
Badass track about rediscovering your inner badass.

124. Some Sin for Nuthin’Blow Up Your Video
Score points for the line, “Nero, evil mind. He was born way before his time.”

123. Carry Me Home“Dog Eat Dog” (Australian Single)
B-Side to “Dog Eat Dog” is a solid bonus to a single.

122. Soul Stripper’74 Jailbreak
Not about an exotic dancer.

121. Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll Stiff Upper Lip
This is not a cover of the Twister Sister song.

120. Boogie ManBallbreaker
Every time I hear this song, I think of Brian Johnson bulging his eyes out as he sang the chorus live.

119. She’s Got Balls High Voltage
Bon Scott apparently wrote this song about his wife.

118. Stormy May DayBlack Ice
Title of the song gives the impression that this could be AC/DC’s most political song ever but the lyrics don’t indicate that one way or the other.

117. There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’ Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Sums up the hope of every aspiring rock band.

116. Rocking All the Way Black Ice
Solid track on AC/DC’s best album in more than 15 years.

115. Cyberspace “Stiff Upper Lip” (Australian Single)
Nice little gem boogies like the rest of the “Stiff Upper Lip” album.

114. Stick Around High Voltage (Australian Version)
Not memorable, but not boring either.

113. The FurorBallbreaker
Rick Rubin produced this album, and I think gave a little more oomph to songs like this one.

112. Safe in New York CityStiff Upper Lip
The video to this is the last time I remember seeing Angus Young with long hair. 

111. Burnin’ AliveBallbreaker
The lyrics are vague but I believe this song is about being in Hell.

110. R.I.P. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Australian Version)
Short for Rock in Peace.

109. She Likes Rock N’ RollBlack Ice
Don’t be fooled. This song’s not about a woman’s musical tastes.

108. Night of the Long Knives For Those About to Rock
A little bit of trivia: “The Night of the Long Knives” was the name given to a Nazi purge in 1934.

107. Down on the Borderline“Money Talks” (Australian Single)
Would have been a solid track on any album.

106. Hard as a RockBallbreaker
Perhaps the most self-explanatory song title in AC/DC’s catalogue.

105. Black IceBlack Ice
Since Brian Johnson is 61, I am guessing the title (and last) track of “Black Ice” will be the last one we ever hear from AC/DC.

104. Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer High Voltage
American audiences got their first taste of Bon Scott’s raunchy chutzpah with this song.

103. Flick of the SwitchFlick of the Switch
Straight-ahead rock song is the type of music AC/DC was born to play.

102. Spoilin’ For A FightBlack Ice
Hard to tell if this song is about fightin’ or… well, you know.

101. Squealer – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
With this song, Bon Scott makes me glad I don’t have a daughter.

100. Smash N’ Grab Black Ice
Again, I can’t tell if this song is about stealing or another sexual innuendo.

99. Shake A Leg – Back in Black
This is the lowest-ranked song on the “Back in Black” album. That says a lot about the album.

98. Ride On Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
“I ain’t too young to worry, and I ain’t too old to cry when a woman gets me down” is my favorite AC/DC lyric ever.

97. Money Talks – The Razor’s Edge
Most memorable for the fake money with Angus Young’s face that spilled into the crowd when it was played on “The Razor’s Edge” tour.

96. Badlands – Flick of the Switch
Raucous ode to men singing about their six-shooters.

95. Hell or High Water Fly on the Wall
The “Fly on the Wall” album had a lot of solid tracks like this one.

94. Rising Power – Flick of the Switch
It takes serious cajones to follow up two slickly-produced multi-platinum albums with a stripped down LP that starts off with this slow-grooving track.

93. Heatseeker – Blow Up Your Video
This song opened each concert on the “Blow Up Your Video” tour with a missile rising from the bottom of the stage and Angus Young jumping out of it.

92. Love at First Feel Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Likely won’t end up in any Hallmark cards.

91. Playing with Girls – Fly on the Wall
Goes well with the ambiance of any dive bar.

90. Can’t Stand Still – Stiff Upper Lip
This song’s title proves prophetic for its listener.

89. Snake Eyes “Heatseeker” Single
B-Side to “Heatseeker” single is a tad bit better than the A-Side.

88. Anything Goes Black Ice
Poppy song probably would have been a Top 40 hit had AC/DC released it in a different decade.

87. Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be – Let There Be Rock
This song often makes AC/DC’s traditional (almost set-in-stone) concert rotation.

86. Gone Shootin’ Powerage
It is a safe bet that the first time most fans born after 1975 heard this song was when it was played during a montage in “Beavis and Butthead Do America.”

85. Stiff Upper Lip – Stiff Upper Lip
Stripped-down title track set the tone for what Brian Johnson describes as a boogie record.

84. Problem Child – Let There Be Rock
Actually, this song is on both “Let There Be Rock” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”

83. Love Song – High Voltage (Australian Version)
Deserves distinction because it is AC/DC’s only ballad.

82. Hail Caesar Ballbreaker 
Video of this song featured Angus juxtaposed with footage of President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

81. Who Made Who – Who Made Who
This song and subsequent video, featuring an assembly line building Anguses vaulted AC/DC into the MTV era.

80. Big Jack Black Ice
Every guy would like to have the rep of Big Jack.

79. Go Down – Let There Be Rock
Need an explanation?

78. School DaysT.N.T. (Australian Version)
Cover of Chuck Berry song can only be found in U.S. in the “Bonfire” boxed set.

77. Borrowed Time – “Money Talks” Single
B-Side to “Money Talks” Single would have been better replacing a song on “The Razor’s Edge” or “Blow Up Your Video” albums.

76. Shake Your Foundations – Fly on the Wall
This was the first AC/DC song I ever heard on the school bus home from Dollywood.

75. Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire) – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Stephen King (a huge AC/DC fan) lists this as one his 24 Best Rock Songs Ever.

74. Cold Hearted Man – Powerage (Australian Version)
Would have been a nice addition to the U.S. release of “Powerage.

73. Brain Shake Flick of the Switch
Four on the floor track makes me wonder why this album was considered a critical and commercial failure.

72. Jailbreak – ’74 Jailbreak
When I listen to this song, I always wonder why it wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1984.

71. Rock N’ Roll Dream – Black Ice
AC/DC’s latest album showed their range. This song was probably their most creative.

70. If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) – Highway to Hell
Not to be confused with the live album with Bon Scott.

69. Shot of Love – The Razor’s Edge
I always thought the lyrics were, “I want you. It’s the best shot of your life.” They’re actually, “I warn you.” Changes the tone a bit.

68. Spellbound – For Those About to Rock
Has more thoughtful lyrics than a typical AC/DC track. 

67. Givin’ The Dog A Bone – Back in Black
Has pretty typical lyrics.

66. Hold Me Back – Stiff Upper Lip
Starts off simple but slowly builds. Listen to the whole song.

65. That’s the Way I Wanna Rock and Roll – Blow Up Your Video
Song about giving the old-fashioned middle finger to authority is one of the brighter spots on the “Blow Up Your Video” album.

64. Chase the Ace – Who Made Who
This instrumental piece, featured in “Maximum Overdrive” makes you wish that AC/DC had scored more movies.

63. Give It Up – Stiff Upper Lip
The last track on the “Stiff Upper Lip” album is quintessential AC/DC.  If they had chose to hang it up before “Black Ice,” this would’ve been a fitting closer.

62. Rock Your Heart Out The Razor’s Edge
This song definitely lives up to its title.

61. This House is on Fire Flick of the Switch
You can have three guesses about the meaning of this song, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not about a burning building.

60. War Machine – Black Ice
Second-best track on the album stood out on the “Iron Man 2” soundtrack.

59. Satellite Blues – Stiff Upper Lip
I have no idea what the hell satellite blues are but the riff is really catchy.

58. Overdose – Let There Be Rock
Takes a minute to start, but once it does, there’s no letting up.

57. Big Gun – Last Action Hero Soundtrack
Opening track on an excellent hard rock soundtrack also scores points for its video featuring Governor Schwarzenegger transformed into a brawnier version of Angus. 

56. Bad Boy Boogie – Let There Be Rock
When Bon Scott sings this one, you believe him.

55. Sink the Pink – Fly on the Wall
The title of this song still makes the 15-year-od boy in me giggle.

54. Bedlam in Belgium – Flick of the Switch
The website, Bedlam in Belgium, chronicles a 1977 riot at an AC/DC show in Konitch, Belgium, the inspiration for this song.

53. Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation – Powerage
The only single released on what I think is Bon Scott’s best album.

52. Big Balls  Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
The funniest song AC/DC ever recorded.

51. Fire Your Guns – The Razor’s Edge
Following “Thunderstruck” on an album definitely puts you on the path to obscurity, but this track holds it own.

50. Rocker – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Excellent homage to 50s rock.

49. Kicked in the Teeth – Powerage
Anyone who’s ever been cheated on can probably appreciate this one.

48. Let Me Put My Love Into You Back in Black
And anyone who’s ever been blunt can probably enjoy this one too.

47. Baby Please Don’t Go – ’74 Jailbreak
A Who’s Who of rockers have covered this Big Joe Williams classic, but AC/DC’s version – one of only two covers they have ever recorded – stands out.

46. Up to My Neck in You – Powerage
A song about falling in love, AC/DC style.

45. Landslide – Flick of the Switch
None of the songs on “Flick of the Switch” were classics, but most of them, like this one, moved you.

44. Riff Raff Powerage
Ranks this high for Angus Young’s guitar playing alone.

43. Snowballed For Those About to Rock
Believe it or not, this one is actually about getting your ass kicked by life’s excesses.

42. Fly on the Wall – Fly on the Wall
Title track off an underrated album never got the appreciation it deserved.

41. Sin City – Powerage
When I saw Everclear, they closed with this song. Some say it’s hackish but I think that is the ultimate tribute from one band to another.

40. Ballbreaker Ballbreaker
When the band performed this on the “Ballbreaker” tour, Brian Johnson – then only a spry 49 – would sing this song from atop a wrecking ball.

39. Let’s Get It Up – For Those About to Rock
Like many of AC/DC’s songs, not too subtle, but definitely a crowd pleaser.

38. Dog Eat Dog – Let There Be Rock
Super-producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who produced “H
ighway to Hell,” “Back in Black” and “For Those About to Rock” told the Young brothers he would like to have produced “Let There Be Rock.” I would have been interested to see what he would have done with this song.

37. Nick of Time Blow Up Your Video
Great song would be better remembered had it been released at the height of the band’s popularity.

36. Girls Got Rhythm – Highway to Hell
The back seat rhythm to be exact.

35. D.T. – Who Made Who
Another instrumental from “Maximum Overdrive.” This is played as our teenage hero rides his bike through the neighborhood surveying the carnage wrought by the self-aware machines. It really elevates the tension of an otherwise awful movie.

34. C.O.D. – For Those About to Rock
Short for “Care of the Devil.”

33. Fling Thing – “Jailbreak” Single
Instrumental based on a Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomond” makes me feel prideful and a I don’t even have Scottish ancestry.

32. The Jack High Voltage
A live-show mainstay, always introduced with the line, “This is a song about a dirty woman.”

31. This Means War  Blow Up Your Video
Last track on the album is arguably AC/DC’s most unappreciated song.

30. T.N.T. – High Voltage
And this is probably the most overrated one, but it still packs a hell of a punch live.

29. Guns for Hire Flick of the Switch
The above link shows how the band opened the “Flick of the Switch” tour with this song. It captures a band in its prime.

28. Have a Drink on Me Back in Black
For anyone who’s ever decided to have one more drink even though it probably wasn’t a good idea.

27. Walk All Over You – Highway to Hell
Everybody’s inner Walter Mitty has a few intro songs. This is one of my top three.

26. What Do You Do For Money Honey – Back in Black
I don’t know if it was the title of this song that convinced my Dad to not buy me this album, but it sure didn’t help.

25. Gimme a Bullet Powerage
Break-ups aren’t fun, but listening to Bon Scott sing about them makes them easier to get through.

24. Inject the Venom – For Those About to Rock
This one’s actually not about drugs. It seems to be from the point of view of an executioner.

23. Live Wire – High Voltage
The southern hard rock band, Jackyl, will perform this one live.

22. Rock N’ Roll Train – Black Ice
Catchy-riffs, Roman-galley choruses; this is AC/DC’s best single since “Thunderstruck”.

21. I Put the Finger on You – For Those About to Rock
This song opened the “For Those About to Rock” tour but I don’t think it’s been played live since, which is unfortunate.

20. Down Payment Blues – Powerage
Bon Scott’s lament on living beyond one’s means appeals to anyone who’s ever put a good time on a credit card.

19. Night Prowler Highway to Hell
Best remembered for the fact that convicted serial killer Richard Ramirez, “The Night Stalker,” was a big fan of this song.

18. High Voltage High Voltage
AC/DC has the reputation as a band one should see live. This song isa good example why.

17. Evil Walks – For Those About to Rock
This dark number wailed by a prime Brian Johnson is one that stays with you after listening.

16. It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) – High Voltage
Song is about the music business but is motivating to anyone with a dream. Plus it is the only AC/DC song featuring bagpipes.

15. Beating Around the Bush – Highway to Hell
This song was originally called “Back Seat Confidential.” While the title changed, the message remained the same.

14. Are You Ready The Razor’s Edge
Back to intro songs, if I had to choose just one, this would be it.

13. What’s Next to the Moon – Powerage
Not as popular here as in Europe. I guess if we were in France, this would make the top five.

12. Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution – Back in Black
If every rock musician from Elvis Presley to Marilyn Manson had to nail down one anthem for rock and roll, this would have to be it.

11. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Contract killing never sounded so fun.

10. Whole Lotta Rosie – Let There Be Rock
When Bon Scott wrote the lyrics to this one, did he envision that a gigantic balloon of a chubby, half-naked woman would be displayed over the stage? I doubt it.

9. Shot Down in Flames – Highway to Hell
This song taught me that even if a woman is standing alone over by the jukebox like she’s something to sell, don’t ask her what the going price is.

8. Shoot to Thrill – Back in Black
When you think of the “Back in Black” album, you don’t always think of this song, but it’s been on AC/DC’s set list ever since and that says a lot.

7. You Shook Me All Night Long – Back in Black
The band’s first Top 40 hit is probably its most popular. Apparently, it’s the most requested jukebox play of all time too.

6. Thunderstruck The Razor’s Edge
Entering the 1990s, there was speculation about how much longer AC/DC would be around. This song showed that they weren’t going anywhere.

5. Highway to Hell – Highway to Hell
The opening track on Bon Scott’s last album prompted numerous debates over whether the band was involved in devil worship, but it’s really just about the rock and roll lifestyle. 

4. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) – For Those About to Rock
The cannons blasted during the live performance of this song alone justified wearing earplugs at an AC/DC concert.

3. Back in Black – Back in Black
Rock and roll classic has become an obligatory fight song for any team at any level who don black uniforms.

2. Let There Be Rock – Let There Be Rock
If you never get a chance to see AC/DC perform live, you should buy the band’s “Plug Me In” DVD if only to watch the performances of this song.

1. Hells Bells – Back in Black
This choice can, of course, be debated, but opening the album following the death of Bon Scott with an unearthly song from a lead singer with an unearthly voice set the tone for the album and the future of the band. The rumor that Brian Johnson wrote the lyrics to this song as he watched a hurricane from his hotel room only adds this song’s aura.


7 thoughts on “December 31, 1973: AC/DC Plays First Gig”

  1. wow aaron- some time on your hands? 😉
    I’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s list as i don’t recognize any of these… My music recollection is sort of like Lindsay’s “Post-Goonies” rule.

  2. Wouldn’t disagree with your list. Very entertaining to read through it, and your comments. Although I wouldn’t have put Wheels, Touch Too Much, Get It Hot or Nervous Shakedown so low, and would have stuck Hail Caesar at the bottom. Perhaps I’d have had Mistress for Christmas equal last. I love the live version of Riff Raff on If You Want Blood, so, if you’d included that album, I think I would have had to stick it at #1.

    AC/DC did do another cover – School Days. It must only have been released in Australia as part of the TNT album.

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