Back in Black, Thunderstruck and a truckload more: there are countless famous Angus Young riffs in the rock canon. So let’s check 7 of the best you may not have heard yet.
While their lineup has changed significantly since their debut in 1973, AC/DC remain the kings of a brand of riff-rock that punches you as hard as it can, right in the gut. At the helm of their Rock N Roll Train is lead guitarist, founder, songwriter — and school-boy — Angus Young. The Aussie rocker is most known for his electrifying solos climb up your spine, and daredevil onstage theatrics.
With tracks like Highway to Hell and Back in Black immortalised forever in the ears of thousands, it’s not hard to overlook their massive discography full of hidden, high voltage gems. So let’s deep dive into 7 killer Angus Young riffs you may not have heard yet.
Flick of the Switch (Flick of the Switch, 1983)
This list, not unlike most AC/DC albums, begins with a gut-busting knuckle crunch of High Voltage rock. The title track of their 1983 album, Flick of the Switch is classic Brian Johnston era Acca-Dacca, with plenty of drive and heart-pumping attack.
Angus Young’s role as lead guitarist is no different. Making use of a power-chord based riff with the power to break bones, this is one song that you wouldn’t want to see staring you down in a dark alleyway.
Spellbound (For Those About to Rock (We Salute You), 1981)
As the slowest and heaviest track on the list, you’d be right in thinking that Spellbound captures the minds of the listener in a trance of thumping hard blues-rock.
This understated riff from Angus may not be the most complex but is perfectly fitting to the ‘leather jacket wearing, struttin’ down the street’ attitude of the song. This number is a true hidden gem, on an album that never got enough praise.
Sink the Pink (Fly on the Wall, 1985)
A steady beat and overdriven attack see this track ooze with sexual energy, and that’s before you even read the title. AC/DC are a band that seem to enjoy the innuendo, with tracks like Big Balls and You Shook Me All Night Long.
Sink the Pink is no exception and has a frisky guitar riff as a partner. The lack of subtlety and explosive power behind this song all plays into the songs high sex drive.
That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll (Blow Up Your Video, 1988)
A short yet sweet track that defines quintessential ’80s stadium rock, AC/DC style. Angus trades with Brian Johnston throughout the verses with a guitar riff that will have you feeling your long locks whip your face and neck.
The song, like much of their discography, is unmistakably AC/DC, keeping with their distinct heavy and steady, overdriven style. It’s shocking to hear that this number wasn’t an instant crowd-pleasing standard.
Beating Around the Bush (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Marking the first (but certainly not last) Bon Scott era track of the list is Beating Around the Bush, a number that gets frequently overlooked on their 1979 classic Highway to Hell.
The interplay between the vocals and Angus shredding his Gibson SG results in a rock ‘n’ roll classic in true AC/DC fashion. With a riff reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well, their blues-rock influence sticks out like a bloody thumb.
Touch Too Much (Highway to Hell, 1979)
The chorus riff in this track makes me wonder why I don’t hear it on every Aussie rock radio station daily, let alone at all. The opening of the track sets up for explosion with an understated chord progression that has the power to raise arm-hairs.
Only once you’re on the edge of your proverbial seat does it then slap you back into the couch cushions with a big red mark on your face, all thanks to a simple yet effective riff cast from Angus’ electric fingers. Don’t fight it, just enjoy the post head bang blood rush.
Baby, Please Don’t Go (74′ Jailbreak, 1975)
As surprising as it is to see the list rounded off by a cover, the undeniable energy and drive that Angus Young brings with his take on the 1935 blues classic makes this track an undeniable boogie. A band with obvious blues influence at their roots had no problem making this track their own, and Angus proved to be no exception.
The track features a knee-boppin riff made complete with Angus’s signature gutsy tone, which is a perfect pairing with the thumping bassline and train-beat on the drums. While Baby, Please Don’t Go had been a signature in the bands live shows since their early days, it was never officially released outside Australia for another decade. Lucky us eh?