Albums

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Hard Rock - Released October 7, 2014 | Epic - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Of course, Highway to Hell is the final album AC/DC recorded with Bon Scott, the lead singer who provided the group with a fair share of its signature sleaze. Just months after its release, Scott literally partied himself to death (the official cause cited as acute alcohol poisoning) after a night of drinking, a rock & roll fatality that took no imagination to predict. In light of his passing, it's hard not to see Highway to Hell as a last testament of sorts, being that it was his last work and all, and if Scott was going to go out in a blaze of glory, this certainly was the way to do it. This is a veritable rogue's gallery of deviance, from cheerfully clumsy sex talk and drinking anthems to general outlandish behavior. It's tempting to say that Scott might have been prescient about his end -- or to see the title track as ominous in the wake of his death -- trying to spill it all out on paper, but it's more accurate to say that the ride had just gotten very fast and very wild for AC/DC, and he was simply flying high. After all, it wasn't just Scott who reached a new peak on Highway to Hell; so did the Young brothers, crafting their monster riffs into full-fledged, undeniable songs. This is their best set of songs yet, from the incessant, intoxicating boogie of "Girls Got Rhythm" to "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)." Some of the credit should also go to Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who gives the album a precision and magnitude that the Vanda & Young LPs lacked in their grimy charm. Filtered through Mutt's mixing board, AC/DC has never sounded so enormous, and they've never had such great songs, and they had never delivered an album as singularly bone-crunching or classic as this until now. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Hard Rock - Released June 14, 1968 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
With its endless, droning minor-key riff and mumbled vocals, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is arguably the most notorious song of the acid rock era. According to legend, the group was so stoned when they recorded the track that they could neither pronounce the title "In the Garden of Eden" or end the track, so it rambles on for a full 17 minutes, which to some listeners sounds like eternity. But that's the essence of its appeal -- it's the epitome of heavy psychedelic excess, encapsulating the most indulgent tendencies of the era. Iron Butterfly never matched the warped excesses of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," either on their debut album of the same name or the rest of their catalog, yet they occasionally made some enjoyable fuzz guitar-driven psychedelia that works as a period piece. The five tracks that share space with their magnum opus on In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida qualify as good artifacts, and the entire record still stands as the group's definitive album, especially since this is the only place the full-length title track is available. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Hard Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
While lacking the monumental impact of Kick Out the Jams, the MC5's second album is in many regards their best and most influential, its lean, edgy sound anticipating the emergence of both the punk and power pop movements to follow later in the decade. Bookended by a pair of telling covers -- Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and Chuck Berry's "Back in the U.S.A." -- the disc is as much a look back at rock & roll's origins as it is a push forward into the music's future; given the Five's vaunted revolutionary leanings, for instance, it's both surprising and refreshing to discover the record's emotional centerpiece is a doo wop-inspired ballad, "Let Me Try," that's the most lovely and gentle song in their catalog. The recurring theme which drives Back in the USA is adolescence, its reminiscences alternately fond and embittered -- while cuts like "Tonight," "Teenage Lust," "High School," and "Shakin' Street" celebrate youth in all its rebellious glory, others like "The American Ruse" and "The Human Being Lawnmower" condemn a system which eats its young, filling their heads with lies before sending them off to war. Equally gripping is the record's singular sound -- produced by Jon Landau with an almost complete disregard for the bottom end, Back in the USA captures a live-wire intensity 180 degrees removed from the group's live sound yet perfectly suited to the material at hand, resulting in music which not only salutes the power of rock & roll but also reaffirms it. ~ Jason Ankeny