Post-1980 is not my favourite AC/DC era but “Spellbound” really stands as a lasting monument to the genius of Mutt Lange, a man whose finely tuned ear and attention to detail filed the rough edges of Vanda & Young–era AC/DC and turned this commercially underperforming band for Atlantic Records into one of the biggest in the world with Highway To Hell (1979) and Back In Black (1980).
On “Spellbound” AC/DC sounds as majestic as it does bombastic. Lange just amplifies the band's natural power an extra notch. It’s crisp sounding, laden with dynamics and builds awesomely when Angus launches into his solo.
“Spellbound” is the closer on For Those About To Rock We Salute You, the last album Lange did with AC/DC, so chronologically it’s a significant song; it marks the end of an important era. For Those About To Rock was an unhappy experience for a lot of people. There was a lot of blood being spilled behind the scenes.
It went to number one in the US but commercially was a massive disappointment after the performance of Back In Black. Much of the blame lies at the feet of Atlantic Records, then under Doug Morris, who made the decision to exhume an album they’d shelved in 1976, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and release it in-between Back In Black and For Those About To Rock. Ironically Morris now heads up Sony, AC/DC’s new home.
In The Youngs (2013), Phil Carson, who signed AC/DC to Atlantic, calls it “one of the most crass decisions ever made by a record-company executive” and believes it undermined sales of For Those About to Rock. I think he’s right.
BON: THE LAST HIGHWAY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BON SCOTT AND AC/DC'S BACK IN BLACK is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, FNAC and hundreds of other retailers around the world.
Jesse Fink is the author of Bon: The Last Highway: The Untold Story of Bon Scott and AC/DC's Back In Black and The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC. For more information about Bon, click HERE or click the book covers below to be directed to editions in your preferred territory and language.