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16 songs about heaven and hell


It's 30 years ago this week that AC/DC released their landmark LP Highway To Hell. The last album released before the untimely death of Bon Scott, it saw AC/DC break into the mainstream.

And it's the discerning AC/DC fan's album of choice. Isn't it?

Here you'll find some great video clips of songs concerning hell. And many also concerning heaven.

Ye-gods, it's heaven and hell in music!

AC/DC – Highway To Hell

With the late Bon Scott on vocals and stupidly tight jeans. You know what you're getting. ROCK!


No Doubt – Hella Good

A co-write with The Neptunes, No Doubt's finest moment is a piece of taut funk that surely goes down well in the underworld's sleazier nightspots. It also features one of the greatest pop bridges of the past 10 years.

Next page: Dylan and doom

Bob Dylan is Knocking On Heaven's Door

From 1976, with The Byrds' Roger McGuinn (on Rickenbacker) and Joan Baez both adding vocals. Bit ropey, but still better than GN'R's slaughtering of said tune.


Heaven And Hell squared

Heaven And Hell playing Heaven And Hell, or Heaven And Hell by Heaven And Hell, if you will.

Next page: Clapton is Jah, Slayer are scary

Clapton is Jah!

From EC's 'novel' reggae-fied era in the early '70s, it's Knocking On Heaven's Door again. Nice footage of Clapton's legendary Strat 'Blackie'. Still better than Guns N' Roses.

Slayer – South Of Heaven

When Slayer slow things down, they are even scarier than in full-on lightspeed thrash mode. This footage from 20 years ago still sounds pretty damn chilling today. (How south Of Heaven was never renamed South Of Devon and adopted as the Cornish anthem we'll never know.)

Next page: Ray Charles and, oh, more AC/DC

Ray Charles – Heaven Help Us All

The Stevie Wonder original was gospel-tinged, but it sounds positively secular after you've heard what his Uncle Ray did with it. Charles would later revisit the song as a duet with Gladys Knight on his swansong Genius Loves Company album.


AC/DC. Again. Hell's Bells!

AC/DC just can't stop shouting "HELL!" The first track released with 'new' vocalist Brian Johnson (in 1980), and a slow-burning firecracker of a guitar riff from the Young brothers. Still ROCK.

Next page: Stairway To Heaven like you've never heard

Rodrigo y Gabriela play Stairway To Heaven

A novel reworking, with impressive 'rasgeuado' flamenco technique from Gabriela Quintero. Hell, they're both good.


Stanley Jordan plays Stairway To Heaven

Possibly too 'jazz' for its own good? But it's fair to say no-one plays guitar(s) like Stanley Jordan. This is mind-boggling, frankly.

Next page: Nick Cave and – ow! – James Brown

Nick Cave with the Cavemen – Mutiny In Heaven

Old Nick and his Cavemen (the original and briefly-held name for the Bad Seeds) perform the nasty Birthday Party 'anthem' at Camden's Electric Ballroom… A QUARTER OF A CENTURY AGO! MusicRadar feels very old.


James Brown – Hell!

Taken from Brown's underrated 1974 album of the same name (which bizarrely has almost all the songs separated by the crash of a gong), check Fred Thomas's well funksome bassline. No wonder Brown's daughter Deanna just can't stop dancing.

Next page: The Clash and Radiohead

The Clash – Straight To Hell

Because they're 'The Only Band That Matters'. Only demerit to this US Festival clip is that Topper Headon isn't manning the drums. He was in a Hell of his own at the time.


Radiohead – Videotape

Here's one about both: Radiohead's Videotape appears to tell the story of someone passing to the afterlife, leaving a videotape behind for their loved ones. "When I'm at the pearly gates, this'll be on my videotape / And Mephistopheles is just beneath, and he's reaching up to grab me / This is one for the good days, and I have it all here in red, blue, green."

Next page: Max Romeo and The Stones

Max Romeo at Montreaux

Famously sampled by The Prodigy on Out Of Space, Max Romeo treats the Montreaux jazz festival crowd to his Satan-slamming original; I Chase The Devil.


The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil

Could be the song that started the whole rock/Devil-worship thing. The Stones, looking most Satanic, at their Rock And Roll Circus. At 6:02 Jagger makes it explicit.

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