In one of the most astonishing music stories of recent years, AC/DC's Black Ice has raced to the Number 1 album slot in the UK and is likely to do the same in the USA.
Black Ice is the veteran band's first release in eight years, their first Number 1 in 28 years, and has made a huge impact at retail outlets.
In the US, Black Ice is available only via Wal-Mart (who have reportedly purchased 2.5 million copies of Black Ice on a no-return basis). In the UK, Black Ice outsold Kaiser Chiefs' Off With Their Heads by nearly two-to-one. And the album is not available to buy digitally, via iTunes or any other digital retailer. Black Ice is available on CD and vinyl only.
AC/DC's biggest-selling albums have all coincided with recessions
The UK's Guardian newspaper claims Black Ice has sold 5 million copies worldwide in its first week, which is astounding in current times, though the paper's pop critic Alexis Petridis argues that AC/DC's success means very tough times are ahead.
He points out that AC/DC's biggest-selling albums – 1980's Back In Black, 1990's The Razor's Edge and 2008's Black Ice – have all coincided with recessions. And AC/DC released their first album, in 1973, just at the onset of the oil crisis.
When the economy was more buoyant, say in 1985, the AC/DC album of that year (Fly On The Wall) was a relative flop.
"AC/DC's appeal in unpredictable times is straightforward," argues Petridis, likely with his tongue in his cheek. "People crave something uncomplicated and dependable in a time of uncertainty, and rock music has never produced a band so uncomplicated and dependable as AC/DC."
Is that really the appeal of AC/DC? Does their no-fuss rock'n'roll make hard times easier to tolerate?
Or is Black Ice simply one of their best albums?
All MusicRadar knows is that AC/DC's guitar crunch deserves some credit.