Back in Black

Music review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Back in Black Music Poster Image
Rude, rowdy good-time power rockers' best album.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

The guitar playing on this album is topnotch. The values kids will absorb from the lyrics, not so much. Most of the songs seem to come from a cultural expectation of free-flowing liquor and loose women, and some lyrics describe sex in metaphorically violent terms. Some songs (e.g. "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution") have a theme of endurance against hostile forces, always popular with adolescent audiences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A band fresh off the recording of Highway to Hell is probably still not in the positive role model business, or given to any such aspirations. What they're doing in their songs is proclaiming, in raucous, unapologetic terms, the joys of partying, and not always in the most sensitive terms.

Violence

The line between sex and violence blurs in "Shoot to Thrill": "Shoot to thrill, play to kill I got my gun at the ready, gonna fire at will/ Yeah I'm like evil, I get under your skin/ Just like a bomb that's ready to blow/ 'Cause I'm illegal, I got everything/ That all you women might need to know/ I'm gonna take you down -- yeah, down, down, down/."

Sex

"You Shook Me All Night Long" is an ode to a night of sex that starts out "Taking more than her share/ Had me fighting for air/ She told me to come but I was already there," and keeps going enthusiastically. The album's entire worldview doesn't seem to extend much beyond sex and drinking. So, for example, when Johnson screams "Let Me Put My Love Into You," Young's wailing guitar and the pounding of the band make it seem unlikely that he's talking about long-term investment in a relationship. "What Do You Do for Money Honey" mocks a woman who (the singer seems to think) is selling her favors. Just about any phrase, e.g. "Givin' the Dog a Bone," can be assumed to have a sexual subtext.

Language

Low-level crudity -- "arse" in "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution," "bitch" in "What Do You Do for Money, Honey,"  "ass," "dick" in "Shake a Leg." Frequent occurrence of "hell," both as the place of eternal punishment and as an idiom, for example "hell to pay."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

"Have a Drink on Me" is an enthusiastic invitation to hit the bar sooner rather than later.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Australian rockers AC/DC have always been about sex, booze, and power chords, and that this album immediately follows the death of their original lead singer, Bon Scott, from too much alcohol. That said, Back in Black, which includes such classic rock anthems as the title track, "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution," and "You Shook Me All Night Long," proved to be their most successful album ever, and keeps up a frenetically partying pace from start to finish. Thoroughly steeped in testosterone and teenage frustration, it leaves little doubt about what's on the band's mind at all times. It also includes some of the best hard-rocking music in the history of the genre. Some crude language: "arse," "bitch," "ass," "dick," "hell."

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byFelisa M. March 7, 2019

It’s awesome

It is a little racist but still really good!
Written byAnonymous March 17, 2017

Amazing Album

I seriously thought Highway to Hell was the best AC/DC album? This album literally proved me wrong 100%. I never thought an album without Bon Scott and only sev... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byHells_Bells1010 May 24, 2020

Amazing

It is an awesome album! Love the songs heck look at my user name! If you like rock music this is for you! Shoot to thrill and hells bells are the best in my opi... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 27, 2019
I love it

What's the story?

No one was sure AC/DC would survive the sudden death of their malevolent, hard-drinking singer Bon Scott in early 1980, but within a month the Australian rockers, noted for schoolboy-uniformed lead guitarist Angus Young, had recruited new vocalist Brian Johnson and gone into the studio. Back in Black begins with the tolling of \"Hell's Bells\" in Scott's honor, and then the party that left off at the end of the previous year's Highway to Hell picked up without missing a beat. It's loud, raucous, anthemic rock, unabashedly about hedonistic fun.

Is it any good?

If you're looking for deep introspection, sensitive lyrics, or tender love songs, this is not the album for you. Its power lies in Johnson's screeching vocals, the churning Young-fronted instrumental engine, and the shared, fist-pumping faith of band and audience that "Rock and roll ain't noise pollution / Rock and roll ain't gonna die / Rock and roll ain't noise pollution / Rock and roll it will survive." The most commercially successful album of AC/DC's career, Back in Black is also widely considered the band's best.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about lewd, crude rock 'n' roll -- who does it appeal to, and why?

  • Angus Young is considered one of the world's best guitarists. How does he compare with some of your favorites?

  • These guys were touring well into 2010. Does it seem silly for geezer rockers to be singing this kind of music?

Music details

  • Artist: AC/DC
  • Release date: February 18, 2003
  • Type: Album
  • Label: Sony Music
  • Genre: Rock
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: July 28, 2015

For kids who love to rock

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