Ten songs and barely 42 minutes in length, Highway to Hell is a masterwork of taut, precise songwriting and no-frills production — a start-to-finish listening experience that more than holds up today, 40 years since its July 27th, 1979, release date. The album changed everything for AC/DC, making them bona fide rock stars in the U.S. and solidifying their abilities as songwriters and musicians. It also changed everything for rock & roll at large, and for the lives of many other artists to follow in the band and the album's wake.
One of those artists is Run-DMC's DMC. We talked to the rapper about his favorite tracks, what Bon Scott epitomized to him, and how the Aussie juggernaut taught him "what raising hell is really all about."
TALK ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD AC/DC'S HIGHWAY TO HELL, AND HOW YOU DISCOVERED IT.
DMC I first heard Highway To Hell on the radio. It was a New York City station that played it and it was just so captivating and gravitating! I was like, 'this ain't no Beatles!' It sounded like a movie! Very scary and powerful, but inviting!
WHAT DOES HIGHWAY TO HELL MEAN TO YOU?
At first I thought it was music from some devil-movie, Exorcist-type thing, but then I realized that it was talking about a rock & roll band. I think it's all about going out and giving it your all. But from a music point of view, it's about rocking as hard as you can every time when given the opportunity.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SONG ON HIGHWAY TO HELL?
"Highway to Hell" is my favorite song on the album because of the energy I get from it! Like I said, it's like a movie, an adventure or an amusement park ride. It's an experience! You feel like it's happening!
WHAT MADE BON SCOTT SO SPECIAL AS A SINGER AND FRONTMAN?
Bon Scott epitomized what a real rock & roll voice should be. His sound, his tone, his texture and delivery is unmatched! Truly in a class by himself!
HOW, IF AT ALL, DID AC/DC AND THE ALBUM INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT AS A MUSICIAN, OR THE WAY YOU THOUGHT ABOUT MAKING MUSIC, OR YOUR ATTITUDE AS AN ARTIST?
AC/DC and their music taught me to be raw and definitively loud! "Go hard or don't go at all!" They taught me what raising hell is really all about! Most people now notice I always have some type of AC/DC shirt on all the time!
IS HIGHWAY TO HELL SOMETHING YOU REGULARLY TO BACK AND LISTEN TO? OR DOES IT REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR LIFE?
I listen to Highway to Hell every day! Three albums are in my CD player in my pickup truck, and two of them are AC/DC! So every time I ride … I'm on a Highway to Hell! When I'm at the gym, my songs are "Highway To Hell," as well as "Shook Me" and "Rock N Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" off their Back in Black LP.