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The 11 best AC/DC songs

Why have a top 10 when you can have one more? Here we rank the 11 greatest AC/DC tracks ahead of their Wembley dates

Bands don’t come more high voltage than AC/DC. They define the notion of stadium rock. They basically created it.

And they have the figures to prove it: The band has sold more than 200 million albums, with Back In Black alone bought more than 50 million times, and, on their last world tour, they played to more than 4 million fans. Famously, guitarist Angus Young (he of the much-loved onstage school uniform get-up) said of the band’s sound, “we didn’t reinvent the wheel, we just gave it a smack”. Now 50 years into their career, it’s been one hell of a smack. 

That’s not say it’s been an easy ride. In fact, AC/DC have frequently been dealt the kind of hands that would bury most bands. They tragically lost original frontman Bon Scott to alcohol poisoning just as they were beginning to record Back In Black, and have seen founding member Malcolm Young sadly pass away in 2017. Drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams, both of whom have been with the band since the mid-1970s, can no longer deal with the demands on touring. But still they keep going, driven by a commitment to rock and roll that nothing can stop. 

And so it continues. This summer they’ll be taking their 2020 album PWR/UP out on the road in Europe and only the biggest stadiums fit the bill. 

AC/DC’s back catalogue is a glittering collection. There are 18 studio albums to pick from, countless hits, endless live favourites, and so many anthems that were engineered to get fans off their feet in stadiums from Pittsburgh to Perth. Choosing their finest 11 moments was no easy task, but we’ve given it our best shot…

11. ‘Back In Black’

(Back In Black, 1980)

The band’s call to arms, and, like so many of AC/DC’s biggest hits, it’s a brilliant exercise in simplicity. Built round a skyscraper-sized riff, it is a powerhouse anthem, as catchy now as it ever was.

10. ‘It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)’

(T.N.T., 1975)

A piledriver bar room anthem which encapsulates everything that AC/DC are great at. Big riffs, big choruses, and a whole load of rock ‘n’ roll. What other way was there to end School Of Rock?

9. ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’

(Let There Be Rock, 1977)

One of the first songs that really marked the band out for world domination, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ is a breathless, menacing and absolutely compelling slice of rock. Written and recorded before the band became a global force, it’s a raw, blunt marvel.

8. ‘Give It Up’ 

(Stiff Upper Lip, 2000)

A lesser known cut from 2000’s Stiff Upper Lip, but one that’s up there with the very best the band has to offer. A giant riff, a giant chorus and a monster groove. 

7. ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’

(Back In Black, 1980)

This is as close as AC/DC get to being romantic, and it’s still on the rather brutal side of things. Still, those guitars and that chorus… 

6. ‘If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)’

(Highway To Hell, 1979)

Another brilliant cut from 1979’s Highway To Hell, this is a swirling, energetic call-to-arms and still a firm live favourite. 

5. ‘Hells Bells’

(Back In Black, 1980)

Part of AC/DC’s appeal has always been their willingness to go straight for the juggular and dispense with any sonic smoke and mirrors. But ‘Hells Bells’ is a notable exception – with its brooding guitars and theatrical intro. Proof that they can do whatever the hell they want.

4. ‘T.N.T.’

(T.N.T., 1975)

One of those anthems where the guitars are as catchy, if not catchier, than the chorus itself. Dynamite indeed. When Anthrax covered it in 2013, Slash and Kirk Hammett came out on tour to play the solos – such is the reverence held for ‘T.N.T.’ in the church of rock ‘n’ roll.

3. ‘Shoot To Thrill’

(Back In Black, 1980)

Unbelievably never released as a single, the second track on Back In Black showcases the power of frontman Brian Johnson’s vocals with a throat shredding high turn. Set to a slow build inspired by a Sergio Leone shootout, it climbs into an anthem big enough to take out an army. 

2. ‘Highway To Hell’

(Highway To Hell, 1979)

The ultimate sing-a-long. A stomping, dancefloor-filling, and damn near perfect creation. The riff is as instantly recognisable as anything Led Zepellin or The Rolling Stones have created, and it stands as a permanent ticket to a great time. “There were hundreds of riffs going down every day,” Young later remembered of the writing process. “But this one, we thought, ‘That’s good.’ It just stuck out like a dog’s balls.” What more do you want?

1. ‘Thunderstruck’

(The Razors Edge, 1990)

In a galaxy of stars, ‘Thunderstruck’ is the brightest. Just about every second is perfect: from the brooding intro building slowly into a rock monster; the glorious solo; the huge chorus… The ultimate banger. A force of nature. Rock ‘n’ roll at its purest. And the perfect stadium salute from the band who defined the genre. 

AC/DC bring their PWR/UP tour to Wembley Stadium on 3 and 7 of July, before playing Croke Park in Dublin on 17 August. Find tickets here