Everybody knows who AC/DC is. You can ask a grandma walking down the street and she can tell you that it's the band with the guy who wears the funny shorts. AC/DC was formed in 1973 in Australia by guitarist Malcolm Young and his brother Angus. In September 1974, original vocalist Dave Evans, was replaced by the charismatic singer Ronald "Bon" Scott, born in Kirriemuir, Scotland. Together they became one of the most successful heavy metal/hard rock bands ever. Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, the official story being that after a night of partying, Scott passed out and was left in a car owned by an acquaintance named Allistair Kinnear. Sometime the next day, Bon was found dead by Kinnear, having apparently choked on his own vomit while sleeping. The band members considered quitting, but they were encouraged to continue by Bon Scott's parents. Shortly after, the band found their new lead singer in an Englishman, former Geordie lead singer Brian Johnson. AC/DC albums have sold in colossal numbers, the total being estimated at well in excess of 150 million copies worldwide, with the 1980, Brian Johnson-led album "Back in Black" selling over 21 million in the US alone and 40+ world wide.
AC/DC - T.N.T. (Atco) 1975
a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock 'n' Roll)" (5:16)
Well, this was a lucky find. Walked into one of the big chain stores and found this CD, still sealed, in the bargain bin for $5.99. This Australian import is now out of print. This was AC/DC's second full length release, most of which was re-released in Europe and the U.S. a year later as 'High Voltage.' However, there is one track, exclusive to this CD, a cover of Chuck Berry's "School Days". "Rocker" also did not appear on the 'High Voltage' re-release but was later added onto 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.'
Originally released in1974 on Albert Records in Australia, the Atlantic Records released in May of 1976. The international version of the album features a different cover and is actually a compilation of the original Australian edition and its follow-up, the Australia-only T.N.T. album. Despite its title, the international "High Voltage" contains only two tracks from the original, "She's Got Balls" and "Little Lover".
Annihilator covered "Live Wire" on their 'In Command' CD.
1."Dirty Deeds Done
Dirt Cheap" (3:46)
"Dirty Deeds" is AC/DC's third proper studio album, though it wasn't released in the U.S. until a year after the death of Bon Scott. It was originally released in Australia on Albert Productions on September, 20 1976 with a cartoon cover of Angus Young and Bon Scott. A modified international edition was later released on Atlantic Records in November 1976. It wasn't released in the US until 1981. The band was having massive success with "Back in Black" at the time and struggled with the idea of re-releasing out a Bon Scott album during this time as they were still very much mourning the death of their friend.
The song "Dirty Deeds" has also been covered by Exodus, who also covered "Overdose" as well.
Is there a more classic Bon Scott era AC/DC disc than this one? I mean, how can anyone resist the heavy metal boogie of "Let There Be Rock"? Absolutely one of the finest heavy metal platters to ever be released.
"Overdose" has been covered by Exodus.
AC/DC - Live from the Atlantic Studios (Atlantic) 1997
1. "Live Wire"
AC/DC recorded live in New York City in 1978 with Bon Scott on vocals. This cd was originally released as a promo record to radio stations only. Eventually it was remixed, remastered and released as part of the Bonfire Box. This cd feature one stellar performance by Bon Scott and the boys with a great sound quality for a recording that was originally just suppose to be a radio broadcast. Of course the song list is excellent as well since this recording was made during a classic period of the band. I'd even be so bold to say that this is the band's best live recording; equal to or better than "If You Want Blood."
AC/DC - Dog Eat Dog (CDR)
1. "The Jack"
"Dog Eat Dog" is and an average recording with a decent song selection. Not sure if this boot what the source is for the CDR boot, but it is a poorly preserved radio recording. At one point a radio announcer introduces Bon Scott as Bon Tyler. Of course with any of AC/DC's 70's concerts the band just jams. Not sure why they played "Rocker" twice, unless these are taken from two seperate concerts and the crowd noises are just spliced together so as not to notice any breaks.
1. "Riff Raff"
AC/DC live with Bon Scott on vox, do you really need a review? Recorded during the band's world tour in support "Powerage", this disc contains raw and raunchy versions of many of AC/DC's best songs from the 70's. Charming cover art too, don't ya think? I wonder how may people saw this cover and walked away offended. Some people have no sense of humor. This is high voltage rock and roll. Traded in my original CD pressing for the digi, remastered version. The remaster version contains a 16-page, full color booklet with photos from this era of the band, as well as plenty of liner notes.
"Highway to Hell" is one of the albums that is most sited by well-intentioned clergy to prove that rock 'n roll is "of the devil". Did AC/DC worship Satan? Hardly. What they worshipped was themselves and they knew that something like this would push them over the edge. Sometimes controversy is the best marketing tool, and for "Highway to Hell" it worked. All the screaming in the world didn't stop them, it only gave them free publicity and advertising. Actually the song "Highway to Hell" was inspired by the hellish tours on the road that AC/DC were experiencing at the time. Unfortunately, vocalist Bon Scott may have very well been on that very highway he sang of as he died from the excesses of his own lifestyle before he could record another album with AC/DC.
"Back in Black" is without a doubt one of the most well known, and well respected AC/DC albums ever released. The album was huge, selling multiplatinum and staying on the charts for several years. Someone told me, although I don't know this for a fact, that "Back in Black" is the best selling heavy metal record ever, and the second best selling record of any style, selling upwards of 15 million copies (second only to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"). Unfortunately during pre-production for this album the band's vocalist Bon Scott died of an alcohol related death in early 1980. Bon Scott's death came at a worse possible time for AC/DC since the band's last album, "Highway to Hell" was the their first gold-certified album in the U.S. Despite the fact that an obvious chemistry was lost with Bon Scott's death, "Back in Black" is the ultimate example of a band turning a career-threatening negative into an outstanding career-altering positive. New vocalist Brian Johnson had a similar quality to his voice as Bon Scott, but he sings with more power. There is not a bad track on this disc, with the possible exception of "Hell's Bells," which is basically "Highway to Hell Part 2." The main reason for this song was to capitalize on the success of the band's last disc. Fortunately the band realized that it was not the controversy of the lyrics that was their selling point, but the raw power of their music. Almost every track on this discs was released as a single and still gets radio airplay today. The album was produced by "Mutt" Lange who also has produced for Foreigner, Def Leppard, The Cars, (among others) and more recently, his wife Shania Twain.
Six Feet Under recorded this album in it's entirety as a tribute to AC/DC.
AC/DC - For Those About to Rock We Salute You (Atlantic) 1981
1. "For Those About
to Rock We Salute You" (5:44)
Man, it must have been a nightmare having to follow up an album as hugely sucessful as "Back in Black." Many would have tried to just recreate the hit from the last album. AC/DC however, did not need to follow some pop formula however as they had created their own formula from day one and didn't really stray from it. "For Those About To Rock" did very well for the band, although if I remember correctly, it didn't do as well with critics. In retrospect I'll bet the reviewers were kicking themselves as this album was a massive hit as well, although it didn't have as many hit singles. The title track is one of the band's best songs ever and is a call to arms for all headbangers. "Put The Finger On You" and "Evil Walks" are also classic AC/DC material. There are a few duds on this disc and most consider this to be the band's last great disc before going into a slump up until 1990's "The Razor's Edge."
AC/DC - Flick of the Switch (Atlantic) 1983
Often regarded as one of the band's biggest disappointments; I never could figure out why. The band was suffering with some problems, apparently drummer Phil Rudd's dependency problems were getting the best of him and the band, and he was fired, or quit, or whatever, midway through the recording. Enter new drummer Simon Wright, who later went on to record with Dio after Phil returned to the band. Still, I always thought the band was still at a peak here. The songs still grab hold and rip your face off. Both the slow and the fast songs just rage with that simplistic, yet aggressive, AC/DC conviction. Perhaps some of the songs were starting to sound a bit similar to the band's past glories, but so what! If I am not mistaken, that was the point. Angus and Co. were wanting to get back to the raw rock n roll roots, thus the reason they self produced, as opposed to using Mutt Lang, who had done so well for them with their past few albums.
AC/DC - '74 Jailbreak (Atlantic) 1984
An EP featuring released in 1984 featuring some cuts from the 1974 Australian version of "High Voltage," featuring Bon Scott on vocals. Of course it doesn't feature all the tracks that were deleted from the American version, but it does feature some of the best. It's a mystery why "Jailbreak" wasn't released in the States years earlier considering it became an instant classic and a concert staple from here on out. Also includes a smokin' cover of "Baby, Please Don't Go" and a few other AC/DC boogie-rockers. This EP always bugged me in that it sells for the same price as a regular, full length CD. I regularly see it in CD stores selling for $12.99. This is the reason it took so long to become a part of my AC/DC collection. Fortunately I have friends who keep an eye out for cheap used copies for me. (Thanks Kurt.)
AC/DC - Fly on the Wall (Atlantic) 1985
1."Fly on the Wall"
I always like the title and the cover of this one. Probably not their best disc, but darn it, I couldn't pass it up for $6.99. Anyhow, their are a few prime cuts, "Sink the Pink" (was this written by Spinal Tap?) and especially "Shake You Foundations," both of which showed up on:
AC/DC - Who Made Who (Maximum Overdrive Soundtrack) (Atlantic) 1986
1. "Who Made
This was the music put to the Stephen King film "Maximum Overdrive." With the exception of the two instrumentals and the title track this is basically a "best of" compilation. "Who Made Who" was a hit for the band. Never saw the movie, so I don't know anything about it. I found this in a cut out bin for $4.99 still sealed so I figure, what the heck. Not a bad listen actually.
AC/DC - Blow Up Your Video (Atlantic) 1988
The lost AC/DC album. As far as I know this is the only AC/DC album that has been taken out of print. Not sure why. Perhaps the twisted blues metal riffs were not to the labels liking. Perhaps the lack of a hit song. Perhaps...who knows. It sounds like AC/DC to me. Turn up the volume and band your head.
AC/DC - The Razor's Edge (Atco) 1990
Produced by the legendary Bruce Fairborn! I think the production alone gave new life to an old concept. Brian Johnson sounds as good as ever, his high, shrill, voice fitting perfectly the high end mix. "Razor's Edge" is probably the best AC/DC album since "Flick of the Switch." I picked this one up real cheap somewhere, like a yard sale or flea market or something. I can't remember right now.
AC/DC - Ballbreaker (EastWest Records America) 1995
As A Rock" (4:31)
These guys are like an old steam engine that just refuses to give up, but rather just keep pummeling along, tearing apart the eardrums of listeners, while many sit on the sidelines and curiously laugh. You'd think a band that all it's members were well into their 40s would have some slightly less silly lyrics, but once again, AC/DC comes through with titles like "Cover You in Oil" and "Love Bomb." Production has been taken over by the man that brought Slayer to power, Rick Rubin and he does a fine job with AC/DC as well. Surprisingly, when the lyrics aren't the focus, the music on this disc is consistently good, although I hear very few 'classic' cuts. So I guess that the conclusion is that while "Ballbreaker" has few, if any flaws, it's not really their most shining effort either. Most certainly die-hard fans of the band are pleased.
It had been 14 years since AC/DC had put out a live album, and despite the fact that the band are no longer the young troublemakers they were during the Bon Scott years, they were still on top of their game. Recorded during the 'Razor's Edge World Tour' in 1990-91, the creatively titled "Live" features blistering versions of songs from just about every era of the band. Personally I think some of the songs off "Razor's Edge" are even better in this live setting. Some of the Bon Scott stuff, like "Jailbreak" and "The Jack" just don't seem to work as well with Brian Johnson behind the mic. However, there is nothing on this disc I would describe as bad, it's just a matter of preference. The 23 songs were recorded at concerts all over the world. The good thing about this is that you get some of the band's best performances. The bad part is the fade outs in between some of the songs. I would have preferred that the album flow as if it were one concert. However, this too is a minor complain. I always enjoy how bands from the 70's tend to extend their songs and get the audience involved in the performance. On "Live" there are a few songs clocking in at over ten minutes including the ten minute version of "High Voltage", a twelve minute version of "Let There Be Rock" and an extended guitar solo version of "Jailbreak".
My copy is the double CD collector's edition that has been digitally remastered and reissued in a special digipak. The 16 page full color booklet contains all original album art, many unpublished photos, classic memorabilia and new liner notes. There is a single disc version available as well featuring only 14 of the same songs here. Overall, "Live" sports excellent sound, a varied song selection, nice packaging and is just a great collection of live AC/DC.
"Bonfire" is the first AC/DC box set and was suppose to be a tribute to the band's late, great signer Bon Scott who passed away in 1980. At some point before Bon's untimely death, he told Malcolm Young that "when I'm a f**king big-shot, I want my solo album to be called 'Bonfire'." Thus the title of this collection.
AC/DC - Stiff Upper Lip (Elektra) 2000
1. "Stiff Upper Lip"
Man, it's hard to believe these guys are still kicking out such heavy jams after so many years. "Stiff Upper Lip" is the band's 15th studio album. This album like much of the band's past is made up of simple, bluesy, yet heavy riffs that are as addictive as most of the band's past discs. That being said, I cannot say that this album reaches the plateau of 'Back in Black' or most of the Bon Scott platters. Still, AC/DC knows what they do best and they don't steer from that, so I can honestly say that this album would satisfy long-time fans. I must admit, however, that I find the song "Safe in New York City" to be a bit annoying, although my 10 year old son loves it and plays it over and over. There are some excellent standout cuts on this disc, including "Meltdown," "House of Jazz" and the infectious title track. This particular version contains three bonus tracks, with only one ("Cyberspace") being essential. The live version of "Back in Black" is cool, but out of place. I am not exactly sure what the point is of putting the most annoying song ("Safe in New York City") on the album on this disc twice. Both versions are exactly the same.
AC/DC - Live At Donnington (Epic) 2003
AC/DC is one of those bands that you always know what to expect, and this CD is no exception. When I popped this DVD into the player I knew exactly what I would be seeing and I smiled and banged my head along for the entire show. Of course Angus is the star of the show with his constant headbanging and foot stompin, and his little "strip-tease" show he's been doing since the 1970's. Oh, and let's not forget those signature Angus guitar antics. Old Malcom Young in the background making his typical guitar faces and basically staying out of his brother's way. Brian Johnson is as shrill as ever. The only real surprises were the gigantic, blow up props that would come up from the behind the stage for certain songs. In "Whole Lotta Rosie", for example, there is a gigantic, robust, lingerie clad woman that makes an appearance. So, what we have here is an AC/DC rock 'n' roll extraveganza caught on DVD. I seemed to notice every once and a while that the video and audio was off, making me wonder if some parts may have been "fixed" in the studio. However, this is not a real big deal.
After eight years AC/DC is back with another studio album. Because it's AC/DC I basically knew what to expect, but to be frank, I wasn't expecting much. The band's last studio album, while good, just didn't hold my interest quite like some of the classic catalog. However, with "Black Ice" I was pleasantly surprised. Owning the disc for only a week, I had already cranked it several times and enjoyed it more each time I listened.
The album starts off with the first single titled "Rock N Roll Train". This song features a red hot Angus and Malcom Young lick coupled with a simple, tight, straight-forward rhythm section, melodic background vocals and Brian Johnson's high pitched, throaty voice. This is a punishing song, but oddly enough, doesn't have a punishing guitar tone. Actually, the guitar tone throughout goes back to the pre-Brian Johnson years, and doesn't quite have that biting distortion that more recent albums are known for. Despite this fact, I still feel that "Black Ice" offers plenty of hard rock aggression. I've said it before but a heavy riff is much more important than a heavy guitar tone. Much of what I dislike about modern heavy bands is they rely almost exclusively on downtuning and distortion to get a heavy sound. AC/DC instead rely on writing heavy riffs and heavier songs. Most of the songs on "Black Ice" feature the standard AC/DC wall of sound song writing with a ton of boogie and blues influence.
Another surprise is how good Brian Johnson sounds. He honestly has not sounded this good since "Flick of the Switch." Perhaps eight years of rest was just what the doctor ordered. No where does he suffer from that strained sound you can clearly hear on "Stiff Upper Lip".
I don't think anyone will claim that "Black Ice" trumps albums like "Back in Black", "Highway to Hell" and "HighVoltage". "Black Ice" does have it's flaws. Personally, I would have cut the album down a few tracks and just picked out the best 12 songs. A few songs feel like filler. Other than that minor complaint however, "Black Ice" is yet another solid album in the AC/DC arsenal.
It's also worth mentioning that there are several different versions of this CD available. All versions have the same songs on them. The standard cover is a black dig-pack with a red AC/DC logo and a 12 page color insert. There are also limited edition black digi-packs with either a white or yellow AC/DC logo. Otherwise the packaging on these two are identical to the standard red cover. The blue logo version, as seen above, is a digi-book with a 32-page insert. The insert features additional band photos. The price for all these the week of release was $11.99 at Wal-Mart stores.
A highly comprehensive collection of AC/DC studio and live rarities together in one brilliant amp shaped box. 3 CDs, 2 DVDs, 1 vinyl album, and a beautiful hardcover 164-page coffee table book. Memorabilia includes a replica button of the first ever AC/DC band merchandise, a guitar pick, an Australian Angus 100 dollar bill as was dropped on the audience during the 1991 Razors Edge tour, three lithograph photos, a 2’ x 3’ poster from the 1977 “Let there Be Rock Tour”, and exact replica of o ne of the Albert Productions multi track tape sheets for the "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" album, and Angus ‘beanie’ sticker, a Bon Scott temporary tattoo and a replica of a 1976 "Lock Up Your Daughters" tour flyer. The box is shaped as a half stack guitar amp. The amp actually works. However, with all the fluff, this box set would be worthless if it didn't contain a wealth of quality music. The studio rarities disc in this set contains several songs not included on the 12-song disc in the smaller, less expensive set. All the extra songs are the original, Australian version of classic AC/DC songs. It's nice to finally have a quality version of "Snake Eyes", a song I had previously only had on a crappy cassette single. The sound quality is so far superior, partially due to the digital CD format, but also due to remastering. "Love Song" is a rare AC/DC love ballad. One of the few songs from this studio compilation that I had not previously heard. This song is about as b-side as you can get. "Big Guns" from the Last Action Hero soundtrack was actually a hit for the band, and was also one of the better songs on that soundtrack.
Disc 2 - 3 are chock full of great live material. Some of this stuff had been released before in the form of bootlegs, but it's nice to have it officially released. The sound quality on these tracks are all exceptional. Crank up either disc in your car and see if it doesn't force you to drive just a little faster than you normally would. Of course the newer material is sonically superior to the older, 70's material. 2 DVDs brings "Family Jewels" up to date plus the entire 2003 Circus Krone gig in Germany. Finally, the 12 studio tracks are also on 180 gram audiophile vinyl, a sweet collector's item for this vinyl fan. This is definitely the best box set I've ever seen. Everything about it is well done, from the track selection to all the extras. (Thanks a ton Morgan! You rule!)
AC/DC - Live At River Plate (Columbia) 2012