July 25, 1980. July 25, 1983. July 27, 1989. Three Pretty Big Days for rock fans, and all of them on the 25th of July.
Let’s start with the biggest and oldest July 25. On this day in 1980, AC/DC released Back In Black, which would end up being their all-time greatest album. Every song on it is an absolute smasher; there’s no dead weight. And when you look at the timeline surrounding it, Back In Black is even more impressive.
July 27, 1979: AC/DC release Highway To Hell, their sixth studio album and biggest album to date. February 19, 1980: Lead singer Bon Scott dies. July 25, 1980: AC/DC release Back In Black–with new lead singer Brian Johnson–in tribute to their late lead singer. Have you done the math? All of that transpired in less than a year. And it led to the third-largest selling rock album of all-time.
Let’s flash forward to July 25, 1983, when a little-know metal band from the Bay Area quietly dropped their debut album. Released on independent label Megaforce Records, Kill ‘Em All certainly didn’t make a big splash, as there wasn’t a lot of thrash metal on MTV or the FM dial back in ’83. But as the years went on and Metallica continued to establish themselves as a force in rock, their debut album would become cannon, not only for launching their career but for inspiring generations of metalheads to come.
Finally, we travel to July 25, 1989. While License To Ill put the Beastie Boys in the map in both the worlds of rock and rap in 1986, it was Paul’s Boutique in 1989 that established the act as innovators and became one of the most important albums in the hip-hop cannon. The album is unique in that it’s composed almost entirely of samples, a practice that’s commonplace today but at the time was not. For years, fans have argued how many millions the album would cost to make today, as rates to clear samples were much lower in 1989. Sampled or not, the album is jam-packed with bangers.
July 25. A Pretty Big Day In Rock. And thrash metal and hip-hop, as it turns out.