If there was ever any question that AC/DC are back in a very big way, it has been dispelled quicker than you can say WalMart.

Black Ice, the hard rock group’s first album since 2000 not only debuts at #1 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., but has also hit #1 in some 28 countries around the world, including Great Britain and the group’s native Australia.

Not only that, AC/DC are also featured on the cover of this week’s issue of Rolling Stone. The RS cover story is another milestone for AC/DC, as it is the first time they have been so featured by the magazine in their entire career, despite selling some 70 million records, including 22 million for Back In Black alone.

The new Black Ice album sold more than 784,000 copies in the U.S. its first week, despite being available only at WalMart and Sam’s Club outlets, as well as at AC/DC’s website. That total puts them just behind Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III as the year’s biggest debut-week selling album. AC/DC’s last chart-topper was 1982’s For Those About To Rock (We Salute You).

It should be pointed out with regard to these "deals with the devil," that whether you like them or you don't like them — and I'm already on record as saying that I don't — they are nonetheless apparently here to stay. From the Eagles to Journey to GNR and now AC/DC, they are in fact the most noteworthy business model out there for marketing traditional CDs right now. With Black Ice’s first week success, don't expect these so-called exclusivity deals to be going away anytime soon.

Last night, AC/DC opened their Black Ice tour in Wilkes Barre, PA, which will continue at least through the end of 2008.

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