[Boxset Review] AC/DC | Bonfire

I was a starving college student when Bonfire came out before the holiday season in 1997.  I remember being short the $80 plus tax it cost to get a copy and how no store in North Bay, Ontario even carried it.  I struck out at getting it for Christmas, so I didn’t get my hands on a copy until the spring of ’98.  I scraped together the dough by selling off some video games, then handed the cash to my roommates who were taking a trip to Toronto.  The mid-’90s was an awkward time to be an AC/DC fan.

Bonfire was designed to celebrate the life of Bon Scott, the band’s iconic lead singer who passed away in early 1980.  Bon would often joke with the rest of the band that his first solo album would be titled “Bonfire”, hence the name.  The set includes a ’77 live performance at Atlantic Studios in New York, a two disc soundtrack to the film Let There Be Rock, Live in Paris from ’79, a complication that included some rarities and studio outtakes, and a remastered copy of… Back in Black?

I was annoyed then, and I still am that the set included Back In Black.  The band could have saved me a few bucks by not tacking on an album EVERYONE already had.  Oh well, there was no way I was going to miss out on the rest of that content!

Disc 1|Live At Atlantic Studios

Bonfire 1

Live At Atlantic Studios is a treasure.  The recording is a performance the band gave in front of a small audience for what I assume was a radio show.  This was years before AC/DC would make a dent in the American market, but even in this intimate setting they rocked like they were performing for a crowd of 100,000.  I believe this is the first official recording with Cliff Williams on bass and the only live recording I know of with Bon performing the clean lyrics for The Jack.  No complaints for this one!

Disc 2&3|Let There Be Rock, Live In Paris

Bonfire 2

I love this show but there wasn’t much new here for the hardcore fan.  The performance was already released on VHS in the mid ’80s, with the only addition being T.N.T. which was cut for the film for some reason.  I mean…

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Disc 4|Volts

Bonfire 3

Volts is the real meat and potatoes for the hardcore.  Dirty Eyes is the opener, an early version of Whole Lotta Rosie.  It really shows how Angus and Malcolm would bring an idea into the studio and Bon would raise it a level with better lyrics.

Next are studio outtakes of Touch Too Much, If You Want Blood (You Got It), Back Seat Confidential (which eventually became Beating Around The Bush) and Get It Hot from the Highway to Hell session.  These rough versions are before producer Mutt Lange got his hands on them and they give insights into the evolution of an AC/DC tune.  We all wish there was more of like this in existence but the band insist this is all there is.

We get two early live tracks of Sin City and She’s Got Balls, then the band’s cover of Chuck Berry’s School Days from their Aussie only album, T.N.T.  The rest is padding with It’s A Long Way to The Top if (You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll) and Ride On.  I get it.  They are iconic tunes that represent Bon at his best, but really, I’m not sure we need them again.

The band claimed they searched everywhere for lost material to add to Volts, but couldn’t find any.  While that might be true, they could have continued where they started with School Days and added more Aussie only tracks like Stick Around, Carry Me Home, Crabsody In Blue, etc.  Essentially all of the Bon stuff that ended up on Backtracks in 2009.

Disc 5|Back In Black

Bonfire 4

WTF?  I guess the idea is that this was the remastered version with a cardboard case is somewhat different.  Well, I used it enough to get some hand cheese and grime on it.  I probably should have wiped the CDs down before taking photos but didn’t for authenticity sake… yeah, that’s it.

Packaging

The packaging is decent.  Heck, it has held up for 23 years now.  Every CD is living in a jewel case, with Live in Paris being a 2CD set.  I can’t say that about many boxsets today.  The bonus material includes a book, a double sided poster, a temporary tattoo, a keychain that works as a bottlecap opener, and a guitar pick.  Besides the book, the rest I have never been able to use.  The collector in me will not allow it. Bonfire stuff

The book is a little bizarre with its vertical paragraphs squeezed off to the side, but the format is coffee book style where the images are the priority.

BTW, I see the the set has been reissued as a “digi-book” set without many of the extras, so be aware of which version you are buying.

bonfire digi
The “digi-book” reissue contains only the CDs and book.

Final Verdict

I wouldn’t trade in Bonfire for the world since the exclusive tracks on Volts and Live At Atlantic Studios make it collection worthy.  But It is hard to look past how light on exclusive content it is, especially since it arrived at a time when I could not afford it.  I’d grab it for a deal, but not make it a priority.

3/5

Bonfire book 2
I’ve got something in my front pocket for you.
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More AC/DC:

[Album Review] High Voltage (US)
[Album Review] Let There Be Rock (US)
[Album Review] Powerage
[Album Review] If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It!)
[Album Review] Highway To Hell
[Album Review] Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (INT)
[Album Review] For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
[Album Review] Flick of the Switch
[EP Review] ’74 Jailbreak
[Album Review] Fly On The Wall
[Album Review] Who Made Who
[Album Review] Blow Up Your Video
[Album Review] The Razors Edge
[Album Review] AC/DC Live
[Album Review] Ballbreaker
[Album Review] Stiff Upper Lip
[Album Review] Black Ice
[Album Review] Iron Man 2 (Deluxe Edition)
[Album Review] Rock Or Bust
[Album Review] Live At River Plate
[Album Review] Power Up
[Album Review] High Voltage (AUS)
[Album Review] T.N.T.

[Boxset Review] Bonfire
[Boxset Review] Backtracks (Deluxe Edition)

[DVD] Review] Stiff Upper Lip Live
[DVD] Review] Family Jewels
[DVD] Review] Plug Me In
[Blu-ray Review] Live At Donington
[Blu-ray Review] No Bull | The Director’s Cut
[Blu-ray Review] Live At River Plate

[Book Review] Bon: The Last Highway | Jesse Fink

51 comments

  1. Nice review! I love Bonfire still, and although I’d prefer a four disc version without Back in Black, what the heck right? I was lucky to get a mint complete used copy for half the price because, you know, connections….

    Live in Atlantic Studios is my favourite AC/DC live album!

    Volts is great! Back Seat Confidential is a favourite deep cut!

    One more down for the Mars Man!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Gray review. I’ve never had the dough for Bonfire but is did get brought Aerosmith’s similar format box set Pandora’s Box for my birthday when it came out. Same story of the big hits mixed in with the exclusive content but I do love those 3 CDs very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bonfire came out the week my daughter Kylee was born. So after a long day of being a first time Dad at the hospital and on the way home it was a quick pit stop at the record shop to grab a copy of this box set.
    I really liked that they included the Paris show. ‘Viola, Merci and Eiffel Tower. lol and of course the Volts and Atlantic Studio tracks.
    Great writeup dude but I would have put this up a point to 4. Back In Black really did not to be included as I already had two copies. lol
    Might have to dust this one off as it has been a few years since I have played it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a terrific memory to have tied in with this set. Much better than mine, lol.
      I’m satisfied with my score. As much as I love the exclusive stuff it has, it is very light for the price they were asking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess but that was the norm for box sets back then. I still remember paying almost a cool $100 for the first Zep Boxset in 1990. lol
        This one was a deal compared to Zep.
        I can see why for Zep as in 1990 not all the Zep on CD was available here in Tbay. So when it was announced I thought ‘cool now I can get most of there tracks without paying through the nose for each individual CD that went for like $25 a pop.
        Dang I miss 1990.lol

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah I have no idea why they included Back in Black in that boxset; Backtracks seems more worth it! But it looks like a good collectible for hardcore fans. Mid-90s? Didn’t AC/DC make a comeback with The Razors Edge in 1990?

    Liked by 1 person

            1. Maybe. I remember it slowly starting to make a comeback in the mid-’90s. Janeane Garofalo’s character in Reality Bites made it cool to ironically enjoy it again. But no one was coming within’ ten feet of disco in the ’80s.

              Liked by 1 person

                    1. That’s right. You kids these days have it all at your finger tips, lol. Oddly enough both Reality Bites and The Cable Guy are both directed by Ben Stiller. We made that happen without even trying.

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice review! I have this one only because a neighbor was giving away their CDs and I took them. This was included but there was no pick or bottle cap opener and no Back in Black (which I have), but they did slip in Black Ice (which I didn’t have) so close enough. It has the booklet and everything is in great shape.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a great box set this one, I ripped Volts from a friend and I’ve still got a VHS of the LTBR film up in the attic somewhere. I’ve got a real Live At Atlantic Studios too – bought for almost my whole student grant back in 1990 – there are so many bootlegs out there it’s scary, but mine passes all the little tests. It is for a radio show – there’s intro wordings and timings on the back of it. Mine doesn’t have a letter with it on Atlantic headed paper, but everything else is as it should be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw your new post. This is the one I really want to get. I never knew much about this period and I’ve liked what Iv’e heard so far. I found some on Ebay for 20-30 bucks…Thanks for the review. I’ll check out the Volts package.

    Liked by 1 person

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