AC/DC: 40 Years On The Highway To Hell

By Phil Ashdown.

Highway to Hell is the sixth studio album from Australian rock band AC/DC, released on 27 July 1979. It was the band’s fifth studio album released internationally and the sixth to be released in Australia. It was the last album featuring lead singer Bon Scott.

By 1978, AC/DC had released five albums internationally and toured Australia and Europe extensively. Through sheer hard graft the band were gaining a strong fan base with their incendiary live shows, gaining virtually zero radio play. Their record company wanted to find a producer who could give them a more radio-friendly sound and approached Eddie Kramer best known for his pioneering work as engineer for Jimi Hendrix but also for mega-bands Led Zeppelin and Kiss. The band’s previous albums had been produced by George Young and Harry Vanda, guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young felt a strong sense of loyalty to their older brother George. They met Eddie Kramer in Miami and spent three weeks together and clearly failed to get along as the band did not manage to write any songs at all.

So one day they told him that they going to have a day off and not to bother coming in. They snuck back into the studio and in one day they created six songs that they sent to their manager Michael Browning who sent them on to producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange. The band had also signed up with new management, firing Michael Browning and hiring Peter Mensch, an aggressive American who had helped develop the careers of Aerosmith and Ted Nugent.

Recording commenced at the Roundhouse Studios in Chalk Farm, North London in March 1979, spending the best part of three months there with gruelling 15-hour sessions, which was a shock for the band who up until that point had not spent more than three weeks on an entire album. Lange liked the band’s simplistic sound and solid work ethic being meticulous with the sound and made them rework elements many times until he got the sound he was looking for.

The melodic backing vocals was a new element to the band’s sound, but the polish that Lange added did not detract from the band’s characteristic crunch, thereby satisfying the band and Atlantic Records at the same time.

Highway to Hell was originally released on 27 July 1979 by Albert Productions who licensed the album to Atlantic Records for release outside of Australia. It became AC/DC’s first LP to break the US Top 100, eventually reaching number 17, and it propelled the band into the top ranks of hard rock acts. It is the second highest selling AC/DC album (behind Back In Black) and is generally considered one of the greatest hard rock albums ever made.

In August in the UK the title track was released as a single with If You Want Blood as the B-side and reached No4 in the charts. In November a four-track EP was released featuring Girls Got Rhythm and If You Want Blood along with live versions of Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be and Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation. A third single was released in January 1980 featuring Touch Too Much with two live recording of Live Wire and Shot Down In Flames.

Singer Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980 after a night out in London, sleeping off the heavy drinking session in a Renault 5 owned by a friend of Scott’s, Alistair Kinnear, at 67 Overhill Road in East Dulwich, he was just 33 years old.

Track listing

1. Highway To Hell
2. Girl’s Got Rhythm
3. Touch Too Much
4. Beating Around The Bush
5. Shot Down In Flames
6. Get It Hot
7. If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
8. Love Hungry Man
9. Night Prowler


Bon Scott – lead vocals

Angus Young – lead guitar

Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Cliff Williams – bass guitar, backing vocals

Phil Rudd – drums


I am fortunate to be able to say I saw AC/DC on the accompanying tour at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on the night of 2nd November 1979 as part of a 4-night sold-out stint at the venue. I can clearly remember Angus being hoisted onto Bon’s shoulders and walking among the seated (yes seated!) downstairs stalls during the extended guitar solo to High Voltage. Apparently they completed a circuit of the circle bar before returning to the stage. Other details may be a little sketchy after forty years but it was certainly an energetic perfomance that contained some tracks that have been played at every DC gig since. Another interesting point is that a little known British band supported that night who went on to global domination in the 1980s – Def Leppard! Below is the setlist according to and some original music paper articles from my personal collection.


  1. Livewire
  2. Shot Down In Flames
  3. Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be
  4. Sin City
  5. Walk All Over You
  6. Bad Boy Boogie
  7. The Jack
  8. Highway To Hell
  9. Girl’s Got Rhythm
  10. High Voltage
  11. Whole Lotta Rosie
  12. Rocker
  13. If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
  14. Let There Be Rock

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  • AC/DC - Back In Black - 1st - EX - UK - vinyl LP - £95.00, $117.80, €110.20 (New Item) (arrived 11-Apr-2024 13:22)
    on April 21, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    AC/DC Back In Black (1980 UK 10-track LP with A1/B1 matrices and 'Strawberry' stampers, the first album after the untimely death of Bon Scott, and subsequently the first to feature Brian Johnson, complete with illustrated credits inner, blackembossed sleeve. The sleeve [EX] shows just a little light edge scuffing with the start of a seam split on the top edge and creasing, the vinyl has some very light cosmetic scuffs which have no real impact on play, otherwise is in Excellent condition K50735) #Top 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time

  • AC/DC - High Voltage - German - vinyl LP - £35.00, $43.40, €40.60 (New Item) (arrived 25-Mar-2024 15:02)
    on April 21, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    AC/DC High Voltage (1976 German 9-track vinyl LP, the first internationally-released album by the Australian hard rock band originally released in 1976. The second track on the B-Side, Can I Sit Next To You Girl, is misprinted on label as 'CanI Sit Next To Your Girl'. Contains material from their first two Australia-only issued albums, High Voltage & T.N.T. from 1975. Housed a glossy picture sleeve with a WEA company inner. The sleeve displays only very light general wear and thevinyl has minimal signs of play ATL50257)

  • AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap + Inner - UK - vinyl LP - £20.00, $24.80, €23.20 (New Item) (arrived 21-Mar-2024 17:06)
    on April 21, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976 UK green & orange Atlantic label 9-track LP, the third studio album by Australian hard rock band, picture sleeve with illustrated lyric inner. The sleeve shows some edgewear with a little seam split on the spine and light scuffs, however the vinyl shows only minor signs of play K50323)

  • AC/DC - 3 Record Set - Complete - EX - German - vinyl box set - £195.00, $241.80, €226.20 (New Item) (arrived 21-Mar-2024 17:51)
    on April 21, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    AC/DC 3 Record Set (Scarce German triple vinyl LP box set including the albums High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Powerage, each in their own individual paper picture sleeve, complete with the 23" x 12" black & white fold-out posterof Angus and bonus promo 3-track 7" featuring Baby Please Don't Go, Jail Break and Soul Stripper. All housed in a glossy 12" x 12" picture box with tracklisting on the back. The box is Excellent, with two vintage price stickers attached and displays some light general wear with no splits, whilst all contents are superb with the sleeves displaying minimal wear and the vinyl remains in a 'near mint' condition)

  • AC/DC - Girls Got Rhythm - UK - 7" vinyl - Promo - £50.00, $62.00, €58.00 (New Item) (arrived 21-Mar-2024 18:20)
    on April 21, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    AC/DC Girls Got Rhythm (Rare 1979 UK promotional solid centre vinyl 7" for the single release, with 'Promotional Only Not For Sale' printed on both labels, also including If You Want Blood (You Got It), within a company die-cut paper sleeve. The vinyl hsd only a few light signs of play SAM113)



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