A Classical Take on the Penultimate Classic Album: "Back in Black"


Today's "String Thing" will be a bit of a double whammy(bar), a feature of neighboring notes (to quote Jim Root) and a feature on the classics in more ways than one! Yes, today's feature will take you on a trip that is certain to delight your musical soul, no matter where (or when) you're from. It will showcase an older cover video portraying a classical take on a classic rock tune with a classical nylon string played by a classically-trained Swedish musician, paired elegantly with the timely and very-recent news of a most-special anniversary and internet-wide celebration of one of the most iconic albums of all time. 

On July 25th, 1980, AC/DC released an album with a simple black cover, entitled simply: "Back In Black." It was an album that debuted in the wake of the horrific death of lead singer Bon Scott. The band was unsure that they could even write new music with a new singer, let alone find success in a changing music industry. However, they persevered and penned a true powerhouse of an album (with new vocalist Brian Johnson) that went on to become not only an opus for the band and a signal of their rebirth and staying power but one of the most well-respected and iconic albums in the history of music.

Last weekend, this album turned 40, and musicians around the world all extended their love for this very important date. For anyone who has picked up a guitar in the last 4 decades - this album left a mark - including on Slash.

But Slash isn’t the only one celebrating this piece of rock history.

Enter one of the world’s best guitarists that you’ve probably never heard of -  a true living legend from the region of Sweden that embodies more musical talent than you can shake an ABBA record at - Mattias IA Eklundh. Mattias is a professional guitarist best known for lending his trademark lead guitar sound to the first four Soilwork records. He has continued a career as a solo guitarist and instructor, holding his annual Freak Guitar Camp in the woods of Sweden every summer.

While many AC/DC songs get plenty of loving and surely-jealous teasing for being "the same song rewritten over and over," the musical musings of Mattias will undoubtedly show the underlying musical brilliance that comprises every iconic Angus and Malcolm riff. There really is beauty in simplicity, and the Young brothers have perfected this in their songwriting.

The "Back in Black" album set the tone for a new style of music by opening with the haunting sounds of somber death bells tolling during the “Hells Bells” intro.

Well, what if we replaced those old bells with a modern one? Perhaps that of a ringing doorbell? And what if we replaced the sound of Gibson guitars and Marshall amplifiers with that of a subdued nylon string acoustic?

That recipe is exactly what the Swedish virtuoso gives us with this stunning instrumental rendition of the AC/DC classic, complete with every guitar and vocal part performed acoustically. This is “Hells Bells” as you've never heard it before, with layer upon layer of epic, classical guitar playing.

What could be better than one Mattias Eklundh? Well, certainly 17x Mattiases, Mattiasi? Mattai?! [what the hell is the plural of Mattias?!]. Luckily for your ears, each Mattias plays a different guitar part with an elegant and fluid classical guitar style, all to the simple musical key of an ordinary doorbell. It's like hearing this AC/DC classic inside a Spanish concert hall in Andalusia.

So, go wish this album a happy 40th birthday by playing it on max volume wherever you are, and make sure to check out Mattias' guitar-obsessed website at freakguitar.com.

One last thing: since it's Summer, and "the temperature's high"; you may also want to check out these fresh-out-of-the-oven mini-documentaries that chronicle the creation of each song on the record HERE.

Editor's note: New installments of the AC/DC Documentary on Back In Black will be coming out every few days, so keep checking the link to see more amazing stories behind this prolific album.

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