Producer: Robert John “Mutt” Lange
Track listing: For Those About to Rock We Salute You) / Put the Finer on You / Let’s Get It Up / Inject the Venom / Snowballed / Evil Walks / C.O.D. / Night of the Long Knives / Spellbound
December 26, 1981
Five years of hard work was finally paying off for the Australian heavy metal quintet known as AC/DC. The group’s 1979 album, Highway to Hell, produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, proved to be the group’s breakthrough. It climbed to number 17, putting AC/DC DC in the league of such American hard-rock acts as Aerosmith and Ted Nugent. Then, on February 19, 1980, singer Bon Scott was found dead after a night of drinking. He had choked on his vomit. The band’s road to success had seemingly hit a dead end.
But AC/DC, led by guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young, refused to give up. Scott sound-alike Brian Johnson, formerly of the band Geordie, was recruited, and with Lange once again manning the board, the band recorded the triumphant Back in Black, which saluted Scott while simultaneously ushering in his successor. The album, buoyed by Young’s power chords Johnson’s throaty vocals, climbed all the way to number four, securing the AC/DC’s position as one of the most popular hard-rock groups in the world.
AC/DC’s popularity was now so popular that in 1981 Atlantic Records dug into their vaults and released the 1976 Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, which had previously been issued in the U.K. but not in America. Although the album, featuring Scott on vocals, was five years old, it became AC/DC’s highest-charting album to date, reaching number three. Another 1976 album, High Voltage, which had failed to chart upon its initial U.S. release, finally did so and made number 146 — quite respectable for a five-year-old record. But AC/DC was primed for the biggest album of its career with its third charting album of 1981.
AC/DC initially had a hard time settling down to work on For Those About to Rock We Salute You. The band had decided to go to Paris to record the album but couldn’t find the right studio. “There was lots of moving about from studio to studio,” says recording engineer Mark Dearnley, who had also worked on Back in Black. “We tried a few different studios, but it didn’t work out. In one, Mutt was happy with the guitar sound but wasn’t happy with the way the drums were working, and vice versa in the other.”
The solution was to record the band at H.I.S. Studio, which was not a full-fledged recording studio but rather a rehearsal room the band was using to prepare for the recording sessions in Paris. “Everyone was happy with the way they set up in the rehearsal room,” says Dearnley, “so eventually they decided to cut their losses and record it there using Mobile One from London.”
The space lent itself to an uncommon configuration. “It was a huge stone building,” says Dearnley. “We set up the guitars in one room and the drums up in another. We also had a P.A. feeding drums as well, so it was quite an unusual set up.”
The album was recorded in about two months in a relaxed environment that favored feeling over studio perfection. “There was a lot of time spent sitting around and chatting, but when the mood was right, they would get up and fire off a couple of takes,” says Dearnley. “They are not a band that can just keep plugging at a take until it’s right. The mood has to be right for them.”
The title track, which features cannon explosions, ended up being one of the most difficult songs to record. “We had a lot of fun trying to find the right cannon sounds for it,” says Dearnley. “But in the end it was sorted out in London on the remix.”
When For Those About to Rock We Salute You was released in late November 1981, the band’s growing legion of fans heeded the call. The album entered the chart in the top 10. Two weeks later, it hit Number One.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of December 26, 1981
I . For Those About to Rock, We Salute You, AC/DC
2. Ghost in the Machine, The Police
3. 4, Foreigner
4. Escape, Journey
5. Raise, Earth, Wind & Fire