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Studio album by
Released26 September 1995
StudioRecord Plant Studios, New York City, New York Ocean Way Studios, Los Angeles, California
LabelEastWest, Albert, Epic
ProducerRick Rubin, Mike Fraser
AC/DC chronology
AC/DC Live
Singles from Ballbreaker
  1. "Hard as a Rock"
    Released: 17 September 1995
  2. "Hail Caesar"
    Released: 6 December 1995
  3. "Cover You in Oil"
    Released: 22 March 1996

Ballbreaker is the 13th studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC. It was the band's twelfth internationally released studio album and the thirteenth to be released in Australia. It was released in 1995 and was re-released in 2005 as part of the AC/DC Remasters series.


Ballbreaker marked the return of drummer Phil Rudd, who had played with AC/DC from 1975 to 1983. Rudd had left during the Flick of the Switch sessions due to drug problems and his incompatibility with Malcolm Young.[1] According to Arnaud Durieux's book AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, Rudd attended AC/DC's show in Auckland in November 1991 and, after a friendly meeting with the band backstage, made an "open-ended pitch" to rejoin if anything changed with the band's current drummer Chris Slade. Durieux reports that the band eventually invited Rudd to rejoin and he accepted in August 1994, much to the chagrin of Slade,[2] who had been recording demos with the band in London.[3] Slade told Rock Hard France in June 2001 that he was so disappointed and disgusted that he did not touch his drum kit for three years.[citation needed] Slade would eventually rejoin the band for their performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony and the 2015 Rock or Bust World Tour following Rudd's legal issues involving illegal drug possession and threatening to kill his former personal assistant, both of which forced him out of the band a second time.

Ballbreaker is also significant for being the only AC/DC album produced by Rick Rubin. Rubin had been a long-time fan of the band; former AC/DC engineer Tony Platt recalls overhearing the producer working with the Cult on their 1987 LP Electric:

Rick Rubin was recording the Cult in Studio A and we [Platt and the studio engineers] stood in the airlock just outside the studio. A snatch of Highway to Hell would get played and then a snatch from Back in Black and then a snatch of Led Zeppelin, and we thought, "What the hell's going on there?" [A studio assistant] said, "Well, he's getting the guitar sounds from Back in Black, the drum sound from Highway to Hell and the voice sound from Led Zeppelin!" Literally, as he was mixing he was getting a guitar sound on the Cult and then comparing it directly with the guitar sound that he wanted to get from Back in Black. The same with all the other instruments.[4]

Rubin's first assignment with AC/DC had been "Big Gun," which appeared on the soundtrack for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero. The song was a hit, becoming Billboard's #1 rock track and hit #5 on the Canadian charts.[5]


The album took five months to record. Production started at the Record Plant Studios in New York City, but the band became dissatisfied with the sound there and moved to Los Angeles' Ocean Way Studios.[6] Getting the right drum sound at the Record Plant had proved impossible, with Rubin even isolating the drums in a tent in the studio and lining the walls and ceiling with material to soak up the extra sound the room generated.[7] Although the band was immediately satisfied with the Ocean Way Studios, Rubin and Malcolm Young clashed over the album's direction, with Rubin demanding as many as 50 retakes on some songs, and rumours persist that Rubin was often absent from the studio and left the band to their own devices while he reportedly saw to the recording of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' One Hot Minute album at the same time.[8] In a 1995 interview with Guitar World, Young played down the tension between him and Rubin, although he did admit to Le Monde in October 2000, "Working with him was a mistake." Mike Fraser was also credited for recording, engineering and mixing the album. Marvel Comics contributed to Ballbreaker's cover art.


"Burnin' Alive" was written about the cult followers in Waco, Texas, who were burnt to death in 1993 during a raid by the authorities, while "Hard as a Rock," the album's first single, dated back to the Who Made Who sessions[9] The music video for "Hard as a Rock" was directed by David Mallet and was set at the Bray Studios in Windsor, Berkshire. In the video, which is reminiscent of the Mallet-directed "Thunderstruck" from 1990, lead guitarist Angus Young is seen playing his Gibson SG on a wrecking ball, which destroys a building. "Cover You in Oil" features a typically licentious lyric ("I see a young girl in the neighbourhood...I must confess I'd like to run my hands up and down her legs..."). "The Furor" and "Hail Caesar" also see the band making an uncharacteristic dip into social commentary. Malcolm Young stated in an interview:

I think: stand up and be counted. If there's anyone that takes it like we want to promote a Nazi regime or something, these people are usually the ones that want to promote a total Christian regime. I don't like this politically correct thing on the planet at the moment, to be honest with you. I don't mind it if it doesn't interfere with you on the street, but the day they screw around with your cigarettes and everything else - and there's a lot of cigarettes smoked in AC/DC in all that music you hear - it might not be the same if it was all gone. I just don't like being told what to do, basically like anyone.[10]

Phil Rudd performs at the KeyArena in Seattle on 12 August 1996 during the Ballbreaker World Tour

Reception and tour[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[11]
Entertainment WeeklyB[12]
Rolling Stone2/5 stars[13]

The initial shipments of Ballbreaker, outside of Japan and Australia, were 2.5 million copies. In AC/DC's native Australia, Ballbreaker topped the ARIA Charts and was certified gold the day of release, with 35,000 units sold. The album reached the top 10 in many countries, including #4 in the U.S., #6 in the U.K., and topping the Finland, Sweden and Switzerland charts.[5] It is currently certified 2x platinum by the RIAA in the US, for sales in excess of two million. Jancee Dunn of Rolling Stone awarded the album two out of five stars, writing, "Their longevity can be credited to two factors: nostalgia and the fact that AC/DC still view the world through the mind of a horny 15-year-old. God knows there's more than enough of them to go around." AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine notes, "Although 'Hard as a Rock' comes close, there aren't any songs as immediately memorable as any of their '70s classics, or even 'Moneytalks.' However, unlike any record since Back in Black, there are no bad songs on the album." Ultimate Classic Rock: "With the Young brothers' songwriting confidence restored by their recent chart revival, Rudd's inimitable percussive prowess making AC/DC sound like themselves once again, and Rubin's almost religious commitment to unearthing the band's authentic '70s sound (even hunting down rare, surviving Marshall valve amplifiers – not digital), Ballbreaker had all the makings of an AC/DC purist's dream-come-true, plus a little something for almost everyone."

Two weeks into the US leg of the Ballbreaker World Tour, four gigs were cancelled so that Brian Johnson could attend his father's funeral. During the tour, MTV cartoon characters Beavis and Butt-Head appeared in the intro during concerts.[14] Five of the album's songs were played live: "Hard as a Rock", "Boogie Man", "Cover You in Oil", "Hail Caesar", and "Ballbreaker".

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Angus Young and Malcolm Young.

Side one
1."Hard as a Rock"4:31
2."Cover You in Oil"4:32
3."The Furor"4:10
4."Boogie Man"4:07
5."The Honey Roll"5:34
6."Burnin' Alive"5:05
Side two
7."Hail Caesar"5:14
8."Love Bomb"3:14
9."Caught with Your Pants Down"4:14
10."Whiskey on the Rocks"4:35

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Peak


1995-1996 Australian Albums (ARIA)[15] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[16] 2
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[17] 3
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[18] 4
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[19] 28
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[20] 4
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[21] 4
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[22] 2
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[23] 1
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 3
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[25] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[26] 6
US Billboard 200[27] 4
2008 Japanese Albums (Oricon)[28] 194

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1995) Position
German Albums Chart[29] 42




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[30] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[31] Gold 25,000*
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[32] Gold 38,732[32]
France (SNEP)[33] Platinum 300,000*
Germany (BVMI)[34] Gold 250,000^
Latvia (LaMPA)[35][unreliable source?] 2× Platinum 16,000
New Zealand (RMNZ)[36] Platinum 15,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[37] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "AC/DC History". AC/DC — Bedlam in Belgium. Archived from the original on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  2. ^ Engleheart, Murray; Durieux, Arnaud (2009). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll: The Ultimate Story of the World's Greatest Rock-and-Roll Band. New York City: Harper Collins. ISBN 0061844535.
  3. ^ Chris Slade on AC/DC, Tom Jones, Jimmy Page, Gary Numan, and more
  4. ^ Eagleheart & Durieux, p. 387
  5. ^ a b AC/DC blasts back on 'Ballbreaker', Billboard
  6. ^ HARD ROCK MAG - HS2 - December '96 Interview with Cliff Williams
  7. ^ Engleheart & Durieux, p. 417
  8. ^ Engleheart & Durieux, p. 420
  9. ^ Engleheart & Durieux, p. 422
  10. ^ Engleheart & Durieux, pp. 422–423
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Review: Ballbreaker – AC/DC". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
  12. ^ Ehrlich, Dimitri (13 October 1995). "Ballbreaker Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  13. ^ Dunn, Jancee (16 November 1995). "Review: AC/DC – Ballbreaker". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
  14. ^ Video on YouTube
  15. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  16. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  17. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 2791". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  19. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  20. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  21. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  22. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  23. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  24. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  25. ^ "AC/DC: {{{album}}}" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  26. ^ "AC/DC | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  27. ^ "AC/DC Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  28. ^ "Oricon Top 50 Albums: {{{date}}}" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  29. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  30. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2013 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 10 August 2020.
  31. ^ "Austrian album certifications – AC/DC – Ballbreaker" (in German). IFPI Austria.
  32. ^ a b "ac%2Fdc" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  33. ^ "French album certifications – AC/DC – Ballbreaker" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  34. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (AC/DC; 'Ball breaker')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  35. ^ "International Latvian Certification Awards from 1998 to 2001". Latvian Music Producers Association. Directupload. 2001. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  36. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – AC/DC – Ballbreaker". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  37. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (AC/DC; 'Ballbreaker')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  38. ^ "British album certifications – AC/DC – Ballbreaker". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Ballbreaker in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  39. ^ "American album certifications – AC/DC – Ballbreaker". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]