AC/DC: Top 10 Bon Scott Songs
The longevity of Australian rock band AC/DC is nothing short of amazing. Brothers Angus and Malcolm Young formed the band in 1973, and they’re still creating new music and touring. Most fans and critics seem to look back at the early days, the Bon Scott days, as being their best, even though Bon was only their lead singer for six years, performing only fifty-seven songs over seven albums. Not only can it be argued his work with AC/DC is the band’s best, but it's also arguably some of the rock and roll genre’s best work.
Here is a list of the Top Ten Bon Scott AC/DC Songs:
It's hard to pick a starting point, and it was hard to put this song at number ten. The guitar riff is one of their most memorable, and the outlaw theme of a man on the run from the law suited Bon's vibe so well, as he was largely out of control. Rebellion themes typically resonate with rock and roll audiences, and they certainly do with the AC/DC crowd. The song is still in regular rotation during their live shows to this day. "Jailbreak" is definitely one of their most iconic songs and would be ranked higher on this list if there weren't so many amazing tracks to choose from.
9: “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” – ‘High Voltage’
This track was originally on the ‘TNT’ album, released n 1975, and then included on the international version of “High Voltage” in 1976. It’s the opening track on both records for good reason. The bagpipe introduction lets you know you’re in for something a bit different, which was always exciting for AC/DC fans, especially. I think the song works so well for Bon to sing about the sacrifice it takes to be a successful musician because he lived it and was living still living it. It became somewhat of an anthem for young people to cling to and helped AC/DC find international success. Like “Jailbreak,” it remains a must-see at their live shows.
8: “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” – ‘Let There Be Rock’
"Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" is a classic AC/DC track; it’s got a hard, straight-ahead rhythm, built on power chords, and Bon’s aggressive lyrics and vocals. Selling a song about a man who’s fallen for a woman who's taken him down a path of sex and sin to a rock and roll crowd isn’t usually too difficult.
At live shows, many men in the crowd can relate to the idea that "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be," and because of that, it’s become of the band’s most memorable live songs. Guns N' Roses and several other bands have covered the song over the years, keeping its memory alive outside of just AC/DC lore.
7: “Sin City” – ‘Powerage’
From their 1978 album ‘Powerage,’ “Sin City” is the fifth track on the Australian / US release of the album, but it’s the first track on the Canadian version, and what a great way to kick the album off. The guitar riffs are biting, the rhythm is expected AC/DC fare, and it’s got one of the catchiest choruses of any of their songs from the Bon era.
It’s yet another theme that Bon was in such a natural place to place to sing about - the cutthroat, dangerous Las Vegas underground. He stuck to what he knew, yet again: rebellion, temptation, and danger. And it worked, yet again. "Sin City" has also been covered by other bands, including heavyweight legends Iron Maiden.
6: “T.N.T.” – ‘High Voltage’
The name pretty much speaks for itself. Whether or not you’re a fan of the band or of classic rock and roll, there’s a very high likelihood you know this song well. "TNT" is one of those icon rock anthems that makes itself known immediately. There’s not much to decode; it’s a straight-ahead song that begs the listener to chant along with it, and I imagine that’s exactly what happens.
5: “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” – ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’
The ‘Dirty Deeds’ album was one of the first rock albums I was ever introduced to, and the vocal “....DONE DIRT CHEAP!” will be forever burnt into my memory. I was taken with the cheeky lyrics, huge chorus, and formulaic AC/DC riff. I had little idea that the song is about a for-hire jack-of-all-illicit-trades marketing himself in the most shameless way possible. I had less idea that the song was inspired by a 1950s cartoon character named Dishonest John who offered to do "dirty deeds done dirt cheap."
4: “Ride On” – ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’
A ballad? They couldn’t have veered any more out of their lane if they tried with this one. Bon performs absolutely beautifully on this soulful track that, makes it maybe the band’s most distinct song and certainly its most memorable.
The lyrics lay Bon bare and expose a part of him that the rest of their music doesn’t. His humanity, his feelings of isolation, and his longing for true connection while on the road are admitted to the listener. It’s what he felt when the music stopped, and the party was over. Ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore recorded a version of this song on his 1990 album, “Still Got The Blues,” and it’s clear as to why; I could’ve easily put this song closer to the top of the list.
3: “Riff Raff” - ‘Powerage’
I know many AC/DC fans who feel this is the best song of the Bon Scott era. It’s hard to argue against it being amongst Angus’ very best guitar work, if not his best, and being right in Bon’s wheelhouse, as it's yet another song about rebellion and following the exact formula that made them the superstars they’ve become.
The ‘Powerage’ release of “Riff Raff” is fantastic, but the live version on the ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It’ album is next-level. Being able to hear the crowd elevates it high above the studio track. Guns N’ Roses have also performed this song live during multiple concert tours.
2: “Highway to Hell” – ‘Highway to Hell”
Like “Ride On,” “Highway To Hell” is an honest admission of the band’s feelings about their experience of being on tour and living the rock and roll lifestyle. It’s almost become bigger than the band itself with so many groups covering it, and it being used as a common anthem. It’s a hard-rocking standout on an album full of them. Marilyn Manson and Green Day are two of the many notable bands that have famously covered it.
1: “Whole Lotta Rosie” – ‘Let There Be Rock’
The staccato rhythm to open “Whole Lotta Rosie” is as good a hook as they have. It opens their best song on maybe their best album. Even though the song’s lyrics could possibly offend some modern sensibilities (what couldn’t?), the song hasn’t suffered at all for it, and the subject is rarely brought up. Including the lyrics “she's got the back end movin' like a steam locomotive,” not only hasn’t the theme been shied away from but “Rosie” has even been made into a stage prop during concerts.
Angus’ guitar mastery is on full display throughout, and it ends like it begins - with a classic AC/DC riff.