Fly on the Wall (AC/DC album)

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Fly on the Wall
Fly On The Wall.jpg
Cover art by Todd Schorr
Studio album by
Released28 June 1985
RecordedOctober 1984 – February 1985
StudioMountain, Montreux, Switzerland
GenreHard rock
AC/DC chronology
Flick of the Switch
Fly on the Wall
Who Made Who
Singles from Fly on the Wall
  1. "Danger"
    Released: 21 June 1985
  2. "Sink the Pink"
    Released: September 1985
  3. "Shake Your Foundations"
    Released: February 1986 [1]

Fly on the Wall is the tenth studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC, released on 28 June 1985 by Albert Productions, and Atlantic Records. The album was re-released in 2003 as part of the AC/DC Remasters series.


Although AC/DC's 1983 album Flick of the Switch received mixed reviews from critics, the band remained one of the biggest hard rock acts in the world. In October 1984, Atlantic Records released in the United States the EP '74 Jailbreak, a collection of studio tracks previously unreleased outside Australia, taken mainly from the band's 1975 Australian debut High Voltage. In January 1985, the band took three weeks off from recording what would become Fly on the Wall to headline two nights at the 10-day Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, appearing to over 250,000 people on 19 January with Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Recording and release[edit]

The sessions for Fly on the Wall took place at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland in late October 1984. Released on 28 June 1985, it was AC/DC's first album since the original Australian version of High Voltage not to include drummer Phil Rudd, who was replaced by Simon Wright (although Wright appeared in music videos for Flick of the Switch tracks), making it the first AC/DC album with all band members born in the UK.[2]

It was the second and last album to be produced by band members. But in contrast to the preceding Flick of the Switch – produced by the band as a whole – Fly on the Wall was produced by guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young, who hoped to capture the rawness and simplicity of their early work[3] in a time when pop-oriented glam metal had become popular. In a 1985 interview with Sky Channel for the Monsters of Rock show, Brian Johnson explained: "In my experience, the lads went in with a producer, but they were still really telling the lad what they wanted, so in a round-about way all it is an extra pair of ears. An expensive extra pair of ears."

The album was not well received by critics and its one million US sales paled beside those of Back in Black and For Those About to Rock We Salute You.[4] The singles "Shake Your Foundations" and "Sink the Pink" are seen as standouts;[3][5][6] both were later included on the band's soundtrack album Who Made Who for Stephen King's film Maximum Overdrive. The song "Danger" fell flat in concert and was banished from the set.[7] Some critics also complained that Johnson's vocals were difficult to decipher, and the band would indeed raise them in the mix for Who Made Who.

The album does, however, have at least one high-profile fan: singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, who said "I had an epiphany while I was running and some songs from Fly on the Wall came on. That's a record I could always put on my run mix and I don't have to leave any songs off."[8]

A home video of AC/DC performing five songs from the album was released in the summer of 1985. Also titled Fly on the Wall, it features the band playing "Fly on the Wall", "Danger", "Sink the Pink", "Stand Up", and "Shake Your Foundations" at a small bar in New York City named The Crystal Ballroom. At the bar, a photographer attempts to sneak in to take pictures of the band. New characters are introduced during each song, including three suit-clad men and two women during "Stand Up", and a lady dressed in pink during "Sink the Pink". The cartoon fly depicted on the album cover is also seen. If nothing else, the video demonstrated the band's new commitment to the now powerful MTV by going beyond performance-based videos.

Video version of Fly on the Wall

The Fly on the Wall Tour was marred by bad publicity when serial killer Richard Ramirez was arrested. Ramirez, nicknamed the "Night Stalker" by the press, told police that "Night Prowler" from the 1979 Highway to Hell album had driven him to commit murder. Police also claimed that Ramirez was wearing an AC/DC shirt and left an AC/DC hat at one of the crime scenes. As Murray Engelheart observes in his book AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, "It was just what the band's detractors had been waiting for and the media, especially in America, immediately seized on the case. Wild accusations that AC/DC were, in fact, devil worshippers were bandied about... The lyrics of 'Night Prowler' were carefully analysed and some newspapers attempted to link Ramirez's Satanism with AC/DC's name, somehow arriving at the conclusion that AC/DC actually stood for Anti-Christ, Devil's Child."

The band maintained that the song had been given a murderous connotation by Ramírez, but is actually about a boy sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom at night while her parents are asleep.[9] In a 2000 interview for the MuchMoreMusic documentary The Story of AC/DC, Angus says wryly, "I can't remember the last black mass I attended."


Professional ratings
Review scores
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal7/10[11]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[12]
Rolling Stone(unfavourable)[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[14]

In the original Rolling Stone review of the album, Tim Holmes wrote, "You'd never guess how sexist and politically incorrect all this is if you didn't read the lyric sheet, because you sure can't make out a single word coming out of the dentist's-drill glottis of Brian Johnson (except maybe the song titles, which tend to be repeated like mantras). Angus Young is also in great form, playing the dumbest, most irresistibly repetitive chords in the lexicon."[13] According to Steve Huey of AllMusic, "Fly on the Wall continues AC/DC's descent into cookie-cutter mediocrity, with the leering humor of past glories seeming forced and uninspired, and the music remaining somewhat underdeveloped and directionless."[10] In his 1994 Bon Scott biography Highway to Hell, author Clinton Walker calls the album a "disaster". Martin Popoff observed how Fly on the Wall "tries desperately to recapture wasted youth, yet the material for the most part is cookie-cutter AC/DC" and remarked Brian Johnson's awkward vocals "mixed quite far back, possibly because he's sounding raspier and more incoherent than ever".[11] US gossip magazine People picked the LP as best album of 1985.[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Malcolm Young, Angus Young and Brian Johnson.

Side one
1."Fly on the Wall"3:44
2."Shake Your Foundations"4:10
3."First Blood"3:46
5."Sink the Pink"4:15
Side two
6."Playing with Girls"3:44
7."Stand Up"3:53
8."Hell or High Water"4:32
9."Back in Business"4:24
10."Send for the Man"3:36



  • Produced by Angus and Malcolm Young
  • Mark Dearnley – engineer
  • Bob Defrin – art director
  • Todd Schorr – cover illustration
  • SMAY Vision – booklet design (reissue)
  • Ebet Roberts, George Bodnar, Barry Plummer – photography


Weekly chart[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[16] 16
Canadian Albums Chart[17] 30
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[18] 26
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[19] 14
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[20] 22
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[21] 10
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[22] 19
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[23] 17
UK Albums (OCC)[24] 7
US Billboard 200[25] 32


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[26] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Germany (BVMI)[27] Gold 250,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[28] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[29] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[31] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Kent Music Report No 606 – 24 February 1986 > New Releases: Singles". (original document published by Kent Music Report). Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  2. ^ Saulnier, Jason (22 January 2009). "Simon Wright Interview". Music Legends. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Fly on the Wall > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 June 2007.
  4. ^ Statistics compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America
  5. ^ Twist, Carlo. "AC/DC : Fly on the Wall Review on Blender". Alpha Media Group Inc. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Who Made Who > Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  7. ^ Englehart, Murray; Durieux, Arnaud (2006). AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll: The Ultimate Story of the World's Greatest Rock-and-Roll Band. New York City: HarperCollins. p. 370. ISBN 978-0-7322-8383-4.
  8. ^ Anders, Marcel (May 2017). "Q&A: Ryan Adams". Classic Rock. No. 235. p. 28.
  9. ^ Geist, Brandon (1 September 2007). "Metal Made Me Do It". Revolver. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  10. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "AC/DC - Fly on the Wall review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Archived from the original on 3 June 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 978-1894959315.
  12. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th Concise ed.). United Kingdom: Omnibus Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-84609-856-7.
  13. ^ a b Holmes, Tim (12 September 1985). "Album Reviews: Fly on the Wall". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  14. ^ "AC/DC". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  15. ^ McPadden, Mike (28 June 2015). "AC/DC's Fly on the Wall Turns 30: Rock Out With 30 Album Facts". VH1. Archived from the original on 20 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  16. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  17. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 4 October 2012. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  18. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  19. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  20. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  21. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  22. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  23. ^ " – AC/DC – {{{album}}}". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  24. ^ "AC/DC | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  25. ^ "AC/DC Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  26. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2013 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association.
  27. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (AC/DC; 'Fly On The Wall')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  28. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 953. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  29. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (AC/DC; 'Fly On The Wall')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  30. ^ "British album certifications – AC/DC – Fly on the Wall". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  31. ^ "American album certifications – AC/DC – Fly on the Wall". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 23 August 2019.

External links[edit]

  • Lyrics on AC/DC's official website