By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Hands down, AC/DC are 2008's comeback kids. Black Ice, the Australian hard-rockers' first album in eight years, trailed only Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III in first-week sales. And it's the band's best since 1990's The Razor's Edge to boot.
Even after such a long hiatus, AC/DC's near-immediate resumption of its rightful place as king of the rock 'n' roll mountain was hardly surprising. Like every otherAC/DC album, Black Ice's singular devotion to rock—in both music and lyrics—places it in a class by itself.
No band before or since has gotten more mileage out of four simple letters, freely employing "rock" as noun, verb and modifier—there are nearly 20 uses of the word in song titles alone. Noah Webster would be proud.
NOUN Decreeing "Let There Be Rock" on the 1977 album of the same name, by 2000's Stiff Upper Lip, AC/DC had proved conclusively "You Can't Stop Rock and Roll." Because "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution," as established on 1980's Back in Black, the pathway is clear for its full appreciation—from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap's "There's Gonna Be Some Rockin'" in 1976 to Black Ice's "She Likes Rock and Roll." Now and forevermore, these Aussie ballbreakers will always be "Hard as a Rock."
VERB From the very beginning—i.e. the 1975 debut High Voltage, not released stateside till '76—AC/DC knew "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)." Showing appreciable forethought on 1981 title track "For Those About to Rock," the band went on to "Rock Your Heart Out" on The Razor's Edge and continues "Rocking All the Way" on Black Ice and, on the Australian version of Dirty Deeds, even stretches beyond the grave to "R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)."
Adjective/Adverb As even casual AC/DC fans know, "rock" can be a very descriptive word. The European T.N.T. (1975) brings us "Rock and Roll Singer," while Powerage (1978) fires up "Rock and Roll Damnation," and Black Ice brings us both "Rock and Roll Dream" and the group's latest smash hit, "Rock N Roll Train."— Chris Gray