AC/DC Live was the “new album” when I was just getting into the band in ’92. I remember other kids at school were quickly writing it off because they didn’t want to hear “Brian Johnson sing Bon Scott’s songs”. At that time all I had heard from Bon is what is on High Voltage and Highway To Hell. So, I jumped at a chance to get the single CD version when a friend offered to sell me one for only $10!
I asked him if the reason why he was selling it is that he didn’t like Brian singing Bon’s songs.
“Nah, it just that every song sounds the same.”
Not this again, lol.
This was the first time I heard Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Whole Lotta Rosie. I immediately began saving allowances to get my hands on the 2 disc “Collector’s Edition”. Their live sound really clicked with me. When these were recorded in ’91, it was still the pre-grunge era and heavy metal had yet to become a dirty word. Malcolm Young was using a thicker gauge of strings on his rhythm guitar and the band furiously attacked each tune with a thick ‘n chunky ’90s hard rock sound. Songs like Rosie, Dirty Deeds, and Sin City made all sorts of my mixed tapes back in the day.
In fact, there are two songs that made the “Collector’s Edition”, Heatseeker and That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ‘n Roll that I feel are even better than original recordings.
But not every track benefited from this approach. The brighter songs like You Shook Me All Night Long and Who Made Who sound a bit dull. And I am lukewarm to how Jailbreak and Let There Be Rock are handled. They are stretched to an epic-length as Angus Young would put on a visual performance during the live show. It doesn’t translate too well for an audio-only experience. Fun to listen to for a few times, but skippable after that.
Drummer Chris Slade needs to be mentioned here as well. This is the only official live release with him in the band and I do enjoy his style. He added an extra layer for AC/DC to build on with songs like Thunderstruck. Gimmick or not, I love it when he hammers into those two big bass drums during the THUN-DER! part.
The throwback feel of High Voltage is another highlight. It is stretched out to 10 minutes, but the band is in a real groove with a boogie beat that they rarely approach since the mid-’70s. I just a get a feel-good vibe from this one.
One final thing to mention, if you are going to get this, get the original 2-disc CD version. First, the vinyl omits two songs, Money Talks and Are You Ready? which is a cryin’ shame since these are (so far) the only time they appear live on an official release.
Second, you need to keep an eye out for the “Angus Buck”!
The “Collector’s Edition” of AC/DC Live used to come with one of these and a poster! I don’t believe any of the re-releases do. If you find one, make sure it has the cardboard slipcover, the poster, and the Angus Buck!
Not only have you’ve found something that isn’t easy to come by but you get a cover where Brian Johnson isn’t completely cheesed out of!
As an AC/DC album 4.5/5
Compared to everything else: Lock up your daughters.