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Thursday, January 14, 2010

AC/DC: If You Want Blood, You've Got It


1) Riff Raff; 2) Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be; 3) Bad Boy Boogie; 4) The Jack; 5) Problem Child; 6) Whole Lotta Rosie; 7) Rock'n'Roll Damnation; 8) High Voltage; 9) Let There Be Rock; 10) Rocker.

A live album from AC/DC, the ultimate live band, was imminent at some point, and it is nice that «some point» managed to fall upon the peak years of the Bon era. Of course, there really is no very particular reason to listen to an AC/DC live album. The band made little, if any, difference between the studio and the stadium, and I would not at all be surprised to learn that Angus had a habit of per­forming his famous «spasms» even without any audience present. In fact, some of these live performances — recorded, suitably, in the band's primal habitat, in Glasgow, before a bunch of wild drunken Scottish cavemen — are decidedly tame compared to the studio versions.

The AC/DC live show must, of course, be witnessed live, with the unannounced charisma contest between the lead guitarist and the vocalist as its primary point of attraction. It is a brilliant, if sometimes hard to stomach, combination of ugliness, monster power, and cheerfulness, in which even such a stupid, clumsy mock-ritual as Angus' on-stage striptease has its proper place. You will headbang, you will vomit, you will be disgusted and enlightened at the same time, in the best tradition of drinking stronger spirits. But sound without sight? It's like sight without taste.

Still, there are three good arguments why it will not hurt to at least get acquainted with the record. First, it sort of works as a well-made, well-meaning compilation of some of the band's most ass-kicking material: I have no problems with the setlist whatsoever, especially seeing as how it in­cludes all the best tracks from their best album to that point, Let There Be Rock. Second, it is a very good showcase for Bon, who not only proves that he can easily tame wild Scottish cavemen (look at how skilfully he rules over them during 'The Jack' and 'High Voltage'), but also demons­trates a superb ability to scream on-key throughout the entire performance.

Last and not least, Angus never plays the same solo twice, and he is at his most impressive on 'Bad Boy Boogie' (in which they cut out the «striptease» section, leaving you no time to remove your own shirt and thus pay tribute to the best hard rock band of all time) and, believe it or not, 'The Jack', which is reinforced in its status of «AC/DC's Slow Blues», not to mention getting a new, less double-entendrish, more sluttish, set of lyrics from Bon. Bad news: 'Whole Lotta Rosie' is sacrilegiously shorn of its madman coda, and 'Rocker' lasts all of three minutes, when in reality it was a lengthy, major highlight of the show, with Angus blazing off solos while riding on Bon's shoulders and stuff. Perhaps the shoulder-ride did not manage to be captured well enough.

Obviously, this is fourty minutes of tremendous, high-energy-level fun, and one cannot deny the heart a solid thumbs up judgement. But the brain doth protest that it is very well possible to live without AC/DC live albums, and this, too, has to be accepted.


  1. One of the best live albums ever.

  2. Just to make sure I listend to this live version of Whole lotta Rosie again after more than 30 years.
    Bad news indeed. Angus' play is far more stereotypal than in the studio, so almost half of its charm has disappeared. Thus this cannot be one of the best live albums ever.

    1. It can't be one of the best live albums ever because you, a self-professed critic of AC/DC that only enjoys a handful of their songs, decided to listen to a single track out of ten after 30 years? That's some amazing insight right there.