The AC/DC song they never wanted to release


When most people pick up an AC/DC, they usually know what they’re getting into. The Young brothers have written so many amazing riffs that they don’t really need to deviate from their tried-and-true formula. The band has never ventured too far from it either. They still have strong feelings about their catalogue. Producer Mutt Lange had to plead with them to include the song “Touch Too Much” on Highway to Hell.

Working with the Australian rockers put Lange through his paces before he became one of the world’s biggest producers. Working with Foreigner had taught him how to achieve the layered sounds that many loved, but AC/DC isn’t that kind of band. Their live performances define them; ensuring the song was compelling from the first notes was crucial.

On the other hand, Lange chose the ideal moment to join the trend. After putting out albums such as Powerage, they had already gained notoriety. Their sound had evolved into some of the most powerful rock & roll ever produced. “Touch Too Much” is actually a lot slower than you might expect, given their level of rage.

This bluesy song reminded me more of AC/DC’s early work, almost like a slightly faster version of what they were doing on songs like “The Jack.” However, they were never quite as fast as the Ramones. The group was not at all interested in releasing it because it fell into that strange dead zone of being middle-tempo.

Later, in an interview with Lange, Joe Elliott, the front man for Def Leppard, recalled how strongly the band had opposed including the song on Highway to Hell. He said to Classic Rock, “It’s funny because, as Mutt later told me, AC/DC couldn’t stand ‘Touch Too Much”. Elliott thought it was the best song on the album, but AC/DC thought it was too pop.

Though the tempo makes it suitable for radio play, this isn’t exactly AC/DC suddenly becoming a Top 40 song. If anything, it serves to accentuate the impact of the other tracks that are played alongside it. While “Touch Too Much” is by no means their most intense work to date, sometimes you need a break like that to fully appreciate a song as quickly as “Beating Around the Bush.”

Given that Young’s influence can be heard all over many of Def Leppard’s early licks, it makes sense that this would be one of Elliott’s favourites. The hard rockers from Sheffield were undoubtedly in their own league. You can hear that they shared some of Lange’s trademark guitar licks on half of High ‘N’ Dry. Particularly on the tracks “Let It Go” and “You Got Me Runnin.”

Furthermore, it’s not like AC/DC tried to hide from the spotlight. Tracks like “You Shook Me All Night Long” felt like they belonged on pop radio, with hooks seemingly thrown in every few seconds. This transformation happened only one album after Bon Scott’s passing. “Touch Too Much” might not be the most well-remembered song from Highway to Hell. However, the band eventually ventured into a more mainstream direction, making it a pioneer for their evolving sound.

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