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The Worst AC/DC Albums Released

From the pounding anthems of “Back in Black” to the iconic riffs of “Highway to Hell,” AC/DC’s influence on rock and roll is indisputable. Their brand of raw, unadulterated rock has seen them conquer charts, sell out stadiums, and earn a place in the hearts of millions worldwide. The sheer audacity of their sound, combined with their rebellious spirit, has cemented their status as rock legends. Yet, like any long-standing band with a vast discography, there are albums that, for one reason or another, don’t always shine in the spotlight as brightly as their megahits.

These albums, often overshadowed by the band’s chart-toppers, offer a fascinating journey through AC/DC’s evolution. They reflect the times they were produced in, the challenges faced by the band, and the ever-evolving music landscape they had to navigate. While they may not all be commercial juggernauts, they each contribute a unique chapter to the AC/DC story.

Here we delve deep into some of these lesser-known albums, offering insights into what made them stand out, why some didn’t resonate as much as their more acclaimed counterparts, and the gems hidden within their tracks. Whether you’re a seasoned AC/DC fan or a newcomer to their electrifying world, this listicle aims to shed light on the nuances, the highs and lows, and the enduring spirit of a band that’s always been ready to rock. Join us as we navigate the high voltage legacy of AC/DC beyond the limelight.

1. Fly on the Wall (1985)

Stands as one of AC/DC’s more divisive albums in their storied career. Released in the mid-’80s, it followed several blockbuster albums that solidified the band’s reputation as rock titans. While “Fly on the Wall” contains tracks that showcase the band’s trademark gritty rock sound, it didn’t quite resonate with fans and critics alike to the same extent as albums like “Back in Black” or “High Voltage.” Some of the critiques centered around the production, which some felt lacked the punch and clarity of their previous efforts. Others believed the songwriting wasn’t as consistent, with fewer standout tracks compared to the band’s previous highs. Despite these critiques, the album does have its defenders and is remembered for tracks like “Shake Your Foundations” and “Sink the Pink.” Over time, while it might not be hailed as a classic AC/DC album, “Fly on the Wall” remains a part of the band’s legacy and an interesting chapter in their evolution.

2. Blow Up Your Video (1988)

Coming towards the end of the 1980s, “Blow Up Your Video” marked an era where rock was undergoing substantial changes, with hair metal and the impending grunge movement reshaping the landscape. AC/DC’s “Blow Up Your Video” is often seen as an attempt to modernize their sound slightly, and while it boasts the unmistakable AC/DC style, it didn’t quite achieve the same level of critical acclaim as some of their earlier masterpieces. Singles like “Heatseeker” showcased their ability to still churn out rock anthems, but many felt the album as a whole lacked the cohesion and raw energy that defined their best work. Regardless, the album’s contribution to the band’s longevity is undeniable, as AC/DC never strayed far from their roots even as they experimented.

3. Flick of the Switch (1983)

Released in the aftermath of two monster albums (“Back in Black” and “For Those About to Rock”), “Flick of the Switch” had big shoes to fill. The album saw AC/DC return to a more stripped-down production style, which some appreciated for its rawness. However, it was often overshadowed by the colossal success of its predecessors. While tracks like “Nervous Shakedown” and the title track “Flick of the Switch” were classic AC/DC, the album, for some, didn’t pack the same level of iconic hits that fans had grown accustomed to. Nevertheless, its raw and uncompromising approach makes it a unique entry in AC/DC’s discography, often appreciated more by die-hard fans.

4. ’74 Jailbreak (1984)

Not quite a full album but rather an EP, “’74 Jailbreak” was released primarily for audiences outside Australia and comprised tracks previously unavailable internationally. As such, its shorter length and compilation-like nature made it a unique entry in the AC/DC catalog. Songs like “Jailbreak” and “Baby, Please Don’t Go” highlighted the band’s early sound, brimming with youthful energy. However, given its nature as a collection of earlier songs, it didn’t carry the weight or impact of a full-fledged new studio album. Still, for many, it was a valuable glimpse into the band’s early days and a testament to their raw rock ‘n’ roll spirit.

5. Ballbreaker (1995)

As the 90s progressed, music experienced a significant shift with the rise of alternative rock and the dominance of grunge. Against this backdrop, AC/DC released “Ballbreaker” in 1995, reuniting with producer Rick Rubin, known for his stripped-down production style and reviving careers of several veteran rock acts. The album took AC/DC back to their bluesy roots, with tracks like “Hard as a Rock” capturing the band’s signature style. However, despite the reunion with Rubin, some critics felt “Ballbreaker” didn’t quite match the intensity and breakthrough quality of their landmark albums from the late ’70s and early ’80s. The album was seen by some as formulaic, but it nevertheless confirmed the band’s commitment to its enduring rock sound.

6. Rock or Bust (2014)

“Rock or Bust” was a monumental album for AC/DC for reasons beyond the music. It was their first studio album without founding member Malcolm Young, who had to leave due to health issues. While the album carried the torch of AC/DC’s signature sound, with anthems like “Play Ball,” it was inevitably marked by Young’s absence, both in spirit and musicality. Fans and critics alike noticed the lineup change, and the album received mixed reviews. While some celebrated the band’s resilience and ability to produce powerful rock tracks, others felt it didn’t stand as tall as their classic albums, possibly influenced by the emotional weight of Malcolm’s departure.

7. Stiff Upper Lip (2000)

At the dawn of a new millennium, AC/DC dropped “Stiff Upper Lip,” an album that continued their tradition of hard-hitting rock but with a decidedly bluesy undertone. The title track became a staple, and the album as a whole was seen as a nod to their roots, with a more straightforward and raw sound compared to some of their ’90s output. However, in a music world that had evolved dramatically since AC/DC’s inception, “Stiff Upper Lip” didn’t garner universal acclaim. Some critics found it to be a bit repetitive or lacking innovation. Still, the album had its defenders, with many fans appreciating its no-nonsense, unapologetic rock essence.

8. Black Ice (2008)

Nearly eight years after their previous studio album, AC/DC made a triumphant return with “Black Ice.” Driven by the leading single “Rock ‘N Roll Train,” the album was a commercial success, showcasing that AC/DC’s appeal had hardly waned. However, despite its commercial achievements, the critical response was more divided. Some hailed it as a return to form, with its rock-driven anthems and classic AC/DC sound. Others felt that it leaned too heavily on their tried-and-true formula, making it less memorable than their iconic albums. Nevertheless, “Black Ice” demonstrated AC/DC’s enduring ability to rally fans and fill stadiums.

9. Power Up (2020)

Released as a tribute to the late Malcolm Young, “Power Up” had an emotional weight attached to it. Songs like “Shot in the Dark” were reminiscent of the band’s vintage sound. However, the album was met with a variety of responses. While some celebrated the band’s return and felt it was a fitting homage to Malcolm, others opined that it didn’t break any new ground musically. Still, “Power Up” stands as a testament to AC/DC’s resilience and their unwavering dedication to rock.

10. High Voltage (Australia, 1975)

The debut album “High Voltage,” exclusive to Australian audiences, was the world’s introduction to the raw energy of AC/DC. With tracks like “She’s Got Balls” and “Little Lover,” it showcased the foundation upon which their subsequent successes would be built. While it might not have the international hits of its later counterpart, this album remains a fascinating look at the band’s beginnings. It’s less polished than later efforts but is brimming with the irreverent spirit that AC/DC would become famous for.

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