[Blu-ray Review] AC/DC | No Bull | The Director’s Cut

I first bought No Bull on VHS back in 1996 and I remember being not happy with it. After all the heavy that was upfront and center on there previous concert film Live At Donington, No Bull sounded thin. At the time, I thought this was in response to what was happening to mainstream music. I doubt by today’s standard AC/DC would be considered to be metal but at the time there was a blurred line. And in the mid-’90s metal was passé. It seemed to me as if they were cleaning up their sound with a desire to sound more “rock ‘n roll” than “hard rock”.

I was not the only one who wasn’t pleased with No Bull. The film’s director, David Mallet was in the same boat. Apparently he was rushed to get the product onto store shelves for the holiday season. Sacrifices were made and he was not pleased with the final result.

So, in 2008 we got AC/DC, No Bull: The Director’s Cut with a new 5.1 mix for Blu-ray and DVD – “for the ballbreaking experience it was meant to be”. While there are some great moments in the film itself, I’m still a little down on this one.

I skipped the DVD release in 2000 but The Director’s Cut from 2008 had promise.

Although the audio has improved, and I like the 5.1 mix on here much better than Donington‘s, it is still not where I like it. It still sounds thin. Personally, I believe it is just how the show was captured that night, and there is no mix that can change it dramatically enough.

It isn’t terrible. Cliff’s bass has plenty of presence for a change. Brian’s voice usually sounds strained during this period and he does at times here. But he is mostly fine. Angus sounds alright too. He could use a little more low end growl, but not bad.

I do have a problem with Phil Rudd’s drums. They have plenty of snap but they are missing the bottom end. I remember this being the first time I heard him play Thunderstruck since Chris Slade originally played it on The Razors Edge and AC/DC Live. My first thought was… “Geez, this song just ain’t Phil’s.” A couple of years later his performance it on Stiff Upper Lip Live slaps. I’m not blaming Phil. I really don’t know what is up.

My other problem is Mal’s guitar. It is way too clean for me. It just doesn’t have that knock you out crunch that it has on their other live recordings. The overdrive is there but not enough balls.

Visually, the film is disappointing too. Super 16 mm film was used this time over the 35 mm Panavision like they had for Donington and it is a down grade. 16 mm shows heavy grain, the image looks washed out, red bleeds which is blurry as a result, and there is a lack of detail in the blacks. This being an AC/DC concert at night, there is a liberal use of red and black.

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But there is still plenty to like.

I can see why they choose the Plaza De Toros de Las Ventas in Spain. What a venue! Built in 1931, The Beatles performed there in 1965, and it looks great on camera. It holds about 23,000 people for a concert and the crowd looks crammed in with columns running around the back part of the stands. They were really animated for the show so you got some great shots of the whole stadium jumping in time to the music.

The set list is a not as eclectic as Stiff Upper Lip Live but more so than Live At Donington. Highway To Hell is better represented with a couple of additional tunes, Shot Down in Flames and The Girls Got Rhythm. Dog Eat Dog makes its return to the set list from the ’70s as it was only played once in the ’80s. Boogie Man from Ballbreaker is not my favourite but I like this version. It gets the extended treatment as Angus does his stripe tease and it is a lot of fun.

The back end of the film has a lot of memorable moments too. We get to see Angus’ journey from the stage to the rising column in the middle of the crowd during Let There Be Rock. The extended performance of the song includes him pretending to use his guitar to set off sparks on a hand railing. Then, at the end he uses the tremelo bar on his Gibson SG! Wha???? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before! Or since.

The big prop onstage for this tour was the “Ballbreaker wrecking ball”. It drops from the ceiling, cracking a hole in the stage that Angus rises up from to play Highway to Hell. It is good times.

For the extras, you get some performances with different shots. Mostly the “Angus cam” where it focuses on him during a performance. More exciting is the extra performance of Down Payment Blues. I think this might be the only official performance with Brian singing it. It is not the best quality, but it is cool to have.

I accidentally stumbled onto the animated menus. I left the disc on the menu screen to help Sarah with the groceries and I came back to a cowgirl riding a mechanical bull on my TV.

Hellooooo, nurse!

Really, No Bull: The Director’s Cut isn’t a bad show to own. It has plenty of its own memorable moments, and you have some exclusive live cuts that are very unlikely to heard elsewhere. It is only by comparison to their other live concert videos where I feel it lacks the same punch.

3/5

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Bonus photo! I kept my receipt for some reason. I used a gift card to pay the S31.99 plus tax. Dang, Blu-rays were expensive. It came out on the 16th of Sept and I didn’t get it until the 28th. I must have been working overnights that week.
Bonus Bonus Photo! I don’t know how this one ended up here. Honest.
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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

27 comments

  1. I wouldn’t mind giving it a try. I have to admit…I’m at a loss at times distinguishing between heavy metal and what is hard rock. I’ve heard Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin called heavy metal…that makes it confusing.
    I always thought of AC/DC as Chuck Berry on steroids…and that is a compliment….anyway I would love to check this out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’ve always felt they were a rock ‘n roll band. But many just heard the name and thought metal for whatever reason. I remember on person came over one time with the new Slayer and a girl we were hanging with asked me if that was AC/DC we were playing. The ’90s were weird.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Never got this one but I think I saw it broadcast on MM when MM would show vids. lol. Good show I like the set list. With me though I prefer a live album as that would be more up my alley than watching it all the time.
    Thats my age showing by the way. lol
    Great write-up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What you spent about $32 on ‘No Bull’? My copy was only about $20 (as you will see in my review very soon). Then again, you bought yours from Best Buy and I got mine from Amazon, so who knows? You and I differ quite a bit because I like the tone of Phil’s drums and I could barely hear Cliff in the mix, with exception of “Boogie Man.” But that’s what’s awesome about music fans, we like different things and hear things differently. I agree that Phil’s playing got better on “Thunderstruck” when they did ‘Stiff Upper Lip Live.’ You know in the part where Brian goes “You’ve been..Thunderstruck,” that’s the most notable difference. In ‘No Bull,’ Phil only used the snare, then in ‘Stiff Upper Lip Live,’ he incorporated the toms, which was a good call. Mal’s guitar was way too soft and there were times where Angus was louder than him. Overall, great review Kevin!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it was in 2008 when Blu-rays were relatively knew, and it was Canadian dollars. Stuff is a lot cheaper in the States.

      For Phil’s drums, I saw how he switched it up for Thunderstruck, but even when he was using the Tom Tom for Dirty Deeds I felt like there wasn’t enough low end.

      You even think about getting a drum kit?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah Canadian dollars that’s right, I forgot about that!

        It sounded fine to me, but I see your point. On ‘Stiff Upper Lip Live,’ his toms are tuned a bit lower compared to ‘No Bull.’ On the latter, his drums had a raw and airy sound, and definitely tuned up a bit.

        Actually no. My right hand is very slow due to the surgery affecting the right side of me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to cooperate. It’s a shame. But thankfully I can use my percussion skills while listening to music and writing reviews.

        You just play guitar?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh you play bass though? Nice! What are your favorite songs to play on guitar/bass?

            Sounds tempting, but I don’t have room for a kit, nor the money to make a kit like that. Maybe when I get my own place though! That won’t be for a while lol.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah I haven’t listened to it. Like Deke I’m always a sucker for a live album release so it can be listened to. Not really fussed on watching em.
    I like your breakdown of the mix and the cameras used to film it. Ya don’t get those details in other reviews. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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