The AC/DC Song That Shows Malcolm Young’s Rhythm Guitar Brilliance

AC/DC has released countless songs that went down in the history of rock music for their pure essence of rock and roll throughout their nearly fifty-year-old music career. ‘Back in Black,’ ‘Whole Lotta Rosie,’ and ‘Ride On’ are just a few that many fans can think of when they name the band’s best tracks. Undoubtedly, one of those outstanding tracks is ‘Thunderstruck.’

Many say that pretty much every one of the band’s songs sounds similar at first but has a complex taste after one go. Naturally, there must be something different about ‘Thunderstruck’ that separates it from the other legendary AC/DC songs. The answer to its uniqueness lies within one of the band members, known to be the genius behind their sound.

AC/DC owes a significant portion of their success to their late rhythm guitar player Malcolm Young. Though he created plenty of guitar parts his fans admire to this date, ‘Thunderstruck’ is easily the most significant representative of Young’s impressive way of thinking as an artist. Let’s look at the details of the band’s creative process for the song and one of many aspects of the late rocker’s artistry.

‘Thunderstruck’ Is An AC/DC Masterpiece

AC/DC released ‘Thunderstruck‘ as the lead track on their twelfth studio album entitled ‘The Razors Edge’ in September 1990. The song achieved great success upon its release as it peaked at no. 5 on the US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks and reached the top 10 in many countries, including Finland, Hungary, Spain, and more.

‘Thunderstruck’ is still widely considered one of the band’s best songs, according to many fans and music critics. The Guardian ranked the song no. 8 on the 40 greatest AC/DC songs, and Kerrang! ranked the song no. 6 on its list of the 20 greatest AC/DC songs. As a matter of fact, there are over one billion views on the song’s official YouTube video to prove that.

The Song Screams Malcolm Young’s Mastery

Pretty much every AC/DC fan knows the mastermind behind the band’s timeless sound that represents the ultimate rock and roll spirit. Though some people may think it’s the charming, school uniformed guitar player Angus Young, it’s actually his brother and rhythm guitarist of the band, Malcolm Young. 

The band members, including Angus Young, have never refrained from crediting Malcolm while talking about their creative process. In fact, the guitarist opened up about the making of ‘Thunderstruck’ in the liner notes of ‘The Razor Edge’ re-release back in 2003. Apparently, Malcolm Young instantly said he had a rhythm idea after hearing Angus Young’s intro to the song.

In the liner notes of the 2003 re-release of ‘The Razors Edge,’ Young penned:

“It started off with a little trick I had on guitar. I played it to Mal, and he said, ‘Oh, I’ve got a good rhythm idea that will sit well in the back.‘ We built the song up from that. We fiddled about with it for a few months before everything fell into place. Lyrically, it was really just a case of finding a good title. We came up with this thunder thing based on our favorite childhood toy, ThunderStreak, and it seemed to have a good ring to it. AC/DC = Power. That’s the basic idea.”

Back to the link between Malcolm Young and ‘Thunderstruck,’ every fan can easily recognize the song’s intro that became incredibly iconic for the rock community. Still, many listeners consider Malcolm’s rhythm guitar in the song as truly unique and what makes it such a special piece. Right when fans think they cannot hear something better than Angus’ unexpected and striking intro, Malcolm’s intricate rhythm hits to surprise their audience with a much more harmonic sound.

The fact that he managed to create such a timeless sound within seconds after hearing Angus’ intro is nothing but unbelievable. Considering that his mind-blowing rhythm guitar makes the whole song more rhythmically interesting, one can’t help but think that ‘Thunderstruck’ must be the most remarkable example of Malcolm Young’s intellect regarding his rhythm guitar skills.

You can listen to ‘Thunderstruck’ and Malcolm Young’s isolated rhythm parts below.