When DJs Saved AC/DC from an Early Flop by Flipping a Single Over
AC/DC was on the road to success when their second single “Baby, Please Don’t Go” became a hit in 1975 on the Australian charts. But their version of Big Joe Williams' old blues standard was actually the B-side.
AC/DC had been advised that people wanted to hear “very soft” music on radio, as guitarist Angus Young recalls. Instead of a hint at what the world came to expect from the band, the A-side featured lyrics such as: “When you smile, I see stars in the sky / When you smile, I see sunrise.”
“On our first album, High Voltage, we did a love song called ‘Love Song’,” Young told Vulture. “That was very different for us. I didn’t know if we were trying to parody love songs of the time, because Bon [Scott] wrote the lyrics. I don’t even remember what the words are.”
He added: “I remember that song because the guy who worked for us at our record label told us that’s what was on the local radio at the time — very soft music. His thought we should release that song, because it’ll probably get some airplay. I remember thinking, 'Who in their right mind would want this to go out?’”
Listen to AC/DC's ‘Love Song’
The resulting release of “Love Song” could've been detrimental to AC/DC’s career, but Young said “we were very fortunate, though, because all of the radio stations who had seen us live knew this was not who we were. So these stations started to flip the record over and play the other song … ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go.’ We actually scored a hit from the B-side! That was the one saving grace of the song.”
This wasn’t the last time outside forces worried that AC/DC’s brand of hard rock might need to change. The U.S. version of High Voltage (an amalgam of AC/DC's first two Australia-only releases) also arrived to negative notices in 1976.
“Rolling Stone’s review called us ‘one of the worst bands in the world’,” Young recalled. “At that time, Rolling Stone was really into the punk genre and were matching up everything to what was the current flavor of the day.” But he asserted: “What we did was rock ’n’ roll, and we weren’t going to change anything.”
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