Saturday, October 22, 2011

NUMBER 1 ALBUMS: AC/DC - BLACK ICE

Black Ice
Artist: AC/DC
Title: Black Ice
Year: 2008
Weeks #1: Two
Label: Columbia
Producer: Brendan O'Brien
Track listing: Rock N Roll Train / Skies on Fire / Big Jack / Anything Goes / War Machine / Smash 'N' Grab / Spolin' for a Fight / Wheels / Decibel / Stormy May Day / She Likes Rock N Roll / Money Made / Rock N Roll Dream / Rocking All the Way / Black Ice


AC/DC might be known for Highway to Hell, but you could say that Australian hard-rockers took the long road out of Eden to score its second chart-topper.

Long Road Out of Eden is the name of Eagles' 2007 reunion album, sold exclusively through Wal-Mart and its sister stores Sam's Club. Prior to the chart debut of that album, exclusive titles available only at one retail chain were excluded from the Billboard charts. However, that changed on November 7, 2007, when Billboard, in consultation with Neilsen SoundScan, altered its rules to allow proprietary titles on its charts.

Like the Eagles, the veteran Australian hard-rockers opted to release their latest album, Black Ice, as an exclusive through big-box retailer Wal-Mart and its related stores (Amazon.com is offering it through its affiliate stores), so although it might seem like an unlikely pairing, AC/DC should thank the Eagles for its first number one album in 27 years.

Black Ice didn't merely top the chart; it did it with impressive numbers, especially if you consider the general downturn in the music business and the economy. The album sold 784,000 copies in its debut week in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, trouncing its nearest competitor, the Disney-spun phenomenon High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which sold 297,000 copies. Black Ice's impressive opening-week numbers made it the second best selling album of 2008 to date, trailing only Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, which debuted with sales of 1 million units. 

Ac/Dc
While AC/DC might have broken the traditional retail mold with Black Ice, it certainly stuck to the same blueprint with the music, even if it enlisted new producer Brendan O'Brien, known for his work with Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam. The album features the classic AC/DC sound of guitarist Angus Young's chunky guitar riffs and Brian Johnson's gruff vocals. As for the subject matter, the fact that four of the album's 15 tracks sport the word "rock" in the title, will give you a pretty big clue.

"We stick to the maxim 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" Johnson told Edna Gundersen in USA Today. "It's not that we're afraid of anything. By sticking to what we do, that's being brave. The pressures we were under in the '80s and '90s to use wind machines and wear leather coats, those were hard times. People thought we were dinosaurs, that we lost the plot because we weren't sparkly and cutie-wootie enough."

Yet, every generation seems to rediscover AC/DC through films and TV shows such as School of Rock and Beavis & Butt-head and video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Angus Young credits the band's continued popularity to the longevity of rock 'n' roll. "We're living proof it ain't dying," he told Gundersen. "The Stones are still out there. Led Zeppelin was playing again. A hell of a lot of younger bands are coming along. And I'm sure plenty of bands are rehearsing in garages. As for us, we'll do it as long as we can do it well," he said. "I've got a song or two still left in me that I think can kick a few butts."

THE TOP FIVE 
Week of November 8, 2008
1. Black Ice, AC/DC
2. High School Music 3: Senior Year, Soundtrack
3. Paper Trail, T.I.
4. Luck Old Sun, Kenny Chesney
5. Death Magnetic, Metallica

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