It would be difficult to find a bigger band than AC/DC, or a bigger song than “Back in Black.” Suffice to say in music stores across the country, its the first song played at least once a day. Its hard to find a bigger player than Angus Young. He’s not the most complicated player, in fact, AC/DC has decidedly simple songs. But like wrestler Bret Hart, Young has excellence in execution.
Young doesn’t use fancy guitar effects, or labyrinthine setups. Its a Marshall amp, turned all the way, and a Gibson SG with strings so thick, they stopped making them years ago. (He was forced to buy the factory and their inventory.) Young isn’t particularly ambitious, he’s a blues based player that prefers a Chuck Berry style of rhythm playing. But very few players play harder, and get more out of their notes.
Young’s guitar sounds like a cello at times, with an impossible amount of sustain that resolves into sort of a bellow. His incredible timing on solos is like hearing a master storyteller, he bends and phrases on the lower strings until he works his way up to high stabbing notes that he creates with sheer effort. He has earned his legend through hard work, the image that remains of Young is a sweat drenched schoolboy with a comically large guitar, locked in a physical battle with it that he always seems to improbably win.
AC/DC makes anthem rock, bar band music at its finest. There is nothing more primal then seeing Young run out on stage and start a punishing series of riffs. Young has managed to transcend just regular hard rock to make something special. Over 200 million records sold attests to that, as does their massive and popular touring schedule.
Only Young’s lack of range prevents him from being higher up on this list, but its no black mark on his part.