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Thursday, March 11, 2010

AC/DC: Live

AC/DC: LIVE (1992)

CD I: 1) Thunderstruck; 2) Shoot To Thrill; 3) Back In Black; 4) Sin City; 5) Who Made Who; 6) Heatseeker; 7) Fire Your Guns; 8) Jailbreak; 9) The Jack; 10) The Razors Edge; 11) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap; 12) Moneytalks; CD II: 1) Hells Bells; 2) Are You Ready; 3) That's The Way I Want My Rock'n'Roll; 4) High Voltage; 5) You Shook Me All Night Long; 6) Whole Lotta Rosie; 7) Let There Be Rock; 8) Bonny; 9) Highway To Hell; 10) T.N.T.; 11) For Those About To Rock.

This memento of the Razor's Edge tour exists in two versions — single-disc and a «deluxe» two-disc variant — and if you care about the band at all, there is no reason not to go for the double CD version, giving a much more precise and detailed impression of a late-period AC/DC show. Culled from various venues, it is very «honest» in that the sound fades out after each track, but on practice this constant fade-in/fade-out is annoying and gives the impression one normally gets from cheap Greatest Hits Live packages, even though the album is actually quite representative of the true AC/DC live set of the period, big hits, fresh numbers from the last two albums, and occasional rarities and oddities interspersed.

Arguably, The Razor's Edge tour was the last time the band rocked on stage with the usual amount of juvenile delight — during their subsequent live shows, old age started biting at their heels, which is particularly well visible on video (Angus being a little more restrained and less psychotic), but is subtly reflected in the overall sound as well. On Live, there is no such thing — the band rocks like crazy, which makes it all the more sad to see the further deterioration of John­son's voice, particularly showing on the old Back In Black hits. Of course, he tries to compensate by fini­shing the announcement of each song's title with a beastly roar ("this one's called... 'Sin City', YYAARGGH!"), but this schtick gets fairly obnoxious second time around, not to mention third, fourth, and forty-fourth. Poor guy.

Apart from the voice problem, the only other question is the same I have already asked about If You Want Blood: what's the point of an AC/DC live album in the first place? That previous live record made good mainly on the strength of Bon and Angus. This live record, on the contrary, succeeds despite Brian Johnson rather than because of him, leaving Angus as the only undisputed hero, but even Angus cannot make all of the tracks special, and the recent ones, in particular, are played very much by the book ('Thunderstruck'), meaning you have to pay for more or less the same thing twice.

So, what's actually different? Well, some things. You get to hear a less squeaky clean production of 'Who Made Who', without the electronic effects on the drums. You get to hear 'Heatseeker' be­gin with a few bars from 'Rocker' (a song that Brian only performed briefly with the band at the start of his tenure — it was too much of a personalized Bon vehicle for him to hold on to it). You get to hear 'The Jack' with Bon Scott's original «uncensored» lyrics — much less interesting than the double-entendre version, if you ask me (see how censorship rules?). You get to hear Angus play a little bit of Scottish folk music ('The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond') as a happy crowd of Scots actually sings the words. And, most importantly, you get to hear heavily extended versions of 'Jailbreak' (as Angus masturbates — figuratively — and strips — literally), 'High Voltage' (Brian's bit of audience participation), and 'Let There Be Rock' (which spends the last five mi­nutes or so desperately trying to stop, but always failing).

None of this is essential, but little is disappointing (I would recommend to skip 'Hells Bells', a song that Brian never managed to get right onstage even in the early days, much less now when the pearly gates to the required high notes have been sealed with nicotine and alcohol), and, be­sides, this is the last young AC/DC album you are ever going to hear. Three years later, they would officially change their names to Angus and Malcolm Old, and the world would never be the same. So, thumbs up for now.

1 comment:

  1. Why buy an AC/DC live album? Mainly to hear songs like "Thunderstruck" without that annoying reverb effect. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I find Brian's rasp much, MUCH less annoying when the reverb doesn't attempt to "hide" it. Perhaps it's my bias toward music that doesn't sound overly produced or electronically enhanced, but on some days I prefer the live "Thunderstruck" to the studio version.