10 Underrated AC/DC Sizzlers for Fans Who Wanna Be More Than Just ‘Back in Black’-olytes

With almost a half-century of recorded music under their belts, AC/DC is one of most iconic, and certainly one of the most consistent hard rock bands of all time. From their first six albums with their original frontman, the late Bon Scott, through the next nearly dozen releases with his successor, Brian Johnson, they have served up some of the most memorable and beloved rock anthems ever.

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One of the secrets to their success is that they developed a patented boogie-based sound—gritty, bluesy riffs, a rock-steady rhythm section, and yowling, screeching vocals—from which they have never wavered (but have occasionally tinkered with). That’s where this list of underrated AC/DC tunes comes into play. You might know ‘em when you hear ‘em, but they’ can’ll still surprise and delight you.

1. She’s Got Balls” (1976)

Found on their first album, High Voltage, there’s a slightly restrained swagger to both the playing and Bon Scott’s vocals amid the insistent mid-tempo stomp. It would have been easy to go the more boisterous route like on the album’s title track, but this purposeful choice makes the song stand out more.

2. Problem Child” (1976)

Old-school AC/DC die-hards certainly know this tune, but if one looks at the streaming numbers it seems like younger fans and newer converts may not be as familiar with this rowdy anthem from one of the band’s very best records, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. It’s barely been played live in two decades, as well (so perhaps the band undervalues this one, too!). Bon Scott always had a self-deprecating sense of humor and liked to be a thorn in the side of those in polite society who didn’t get the joke. (Just listen to “Big Balls.”) Fun fact: The band also included this one on their third album, Let There Be Rock.

3. Down Payment Blues” (1978)

Here’s an example of taking a strong blues chord sequence, repeating it, building on it, varying it, and layering over it. Further, Scott’s lyrics feature the social commentary he sometimes liked to inject into songs beyond his other cheeky wordplay: I’m living in a nightmare, she’s looking like a wet dream / I got myself a Cadillac, but I can’t afford the gasoline.

4. Beating Around the Bush” (1979)

A gnarly riff from Malcolm Young, a punchy, thumping beat, and Angus Young’s guitar squeals harmonizing with Scott’s signature yowl during the second verse make this an indispensable entry. Like “Down Payment Blues,” this is the kind of bluesy tune that in lesser hands would sound repetitive and passé, but when imbued with AC/DC energy it becomes a high-octane rocker performed with skill and precision.

5. I Put the Finger on You” (1981)

For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) was the follow-up to AC/DC’s massive breakthrough album Back in Black. With singer Brian Johnson having taken over for Bon Scott after his passing in early ’80, and producer Mutt Lange at the recording console for their first two outings together, the band’s sound became more melodic and fuller, and thus more arena-friendly. This deep cut is one of the few faster tracks on an album that slowed down (possibly purposefully) from the faster pace of its predecessor.

6. Brain Shake” (1983)

By Flick of the Switch, the Brian Johnson era was in full swing, but this mid-tempo scorcher feels like it’s inspired by the Bon Scott period of the band, particularly in Johnson’s vocal delivery. It’s a rowdy, straightforward way to cap off their ninth record, which found the band struggling to keep the sales momentum of the phenomenally successful Back in Black.

7. Shake Your Foundations” (1985)

This party-hearty rocker from the under-appreciated Fly on the Wall album is a sing-along ode to getting it on. The searing riffs and pirate chants (Aye aye oh, shake your foundations!) heighten the rowdy atmosphere. The lyrics are very much in the Brian Johnson vein, but the overall vibe stands out here. The official (and rather silly) video from back in the day provides a fun distraction, too, if you’re so inclined to take such a journey.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind AC/DC’s Bon Scott Tribute “Hells Bells”]

8. The Razor’s Edge” (1990)

Like “Hells Bells” from Back in Black, the title track to their Triple Platinum-selling 12th album is an uncharacteristically ominous AC/DC tune. In its slightly abstract way, it feels plugged into current times. There’s fighting on the left, and marching on the right / Don’t look up in the sky, you’re gonna die of fright. The Razor’s Edge marked a spectacular comeback for the group, propelled by “Thunderstruck,” but augmented by different cuts like this.

9. Boogie Man” (1995)

A deep cut from the lesser-heard Ballbreaker album, this is a slowly churning blues number that grows from quiet blues riffing into its gritty solo from Angus Young during the mid-section. It’s not that it’s radically different from the rest of their catalog, but the way it builds up and is performed with such panache is what gives it its flair. Post-Razor’s Edge, a lot of AC/DC has had less of an overtly hard rock or metal feel than you might expect.

10. Safe in New York City” (2000)

One could argue that a song with 12 million Spotify streams and 53 million YouTube views isn’t underrated, but this is one of those songs that gets a lot of attention when it comes out and then drops off the radar. (This likely hasn’t been played live since 2001.) Mirroring “Boogie Man,” this propulsive track starts off with mellow riffing but builds up for each verse and chorus, and then gets restrained again. It’s a cool way to play it, and we can’t complain about the two Angus solo breaks we get in this one, either.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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