So today we conclude the AC/DC section of my collection with a 2 Cd 1 DVD box set ‘Back Tracks’. A collection of rare and unreleased studio and live tracks. Plus, a DVD of various promotional videos. Not my favorite title from AC/DC in my collection, in fact somewhere in the last few years I apparently decided it wasn’t even worth having in my iTunes library and I had to reimport it to be able to do this review. I suspect that may have more due to accidental oversight than intentional because there several songs on the first disc that I like quite a bit and would never have deleted them. The second disc though…
Disc 1 of this collection is labeled “Studio Rarities” and is an assortment of B-Sides, movie soundtrack songs or version that only appeared on the Australian release of their early records. It is easily the best part of this set and the only reason worth owning it. And if you have been paying attention to these write ups over the last week, you can probably guess why. If you said because there are a lot of Bon Scott songs, you’d be correct. Though some of the production quality of these tunes aren’t up to the standards of their proper releases, there are some good songs on here that offer a different side of the band. Most notably is the song ‘Love Song’ which appeared on the band’s Australian debut record. To my knowledge, it is the bands only real ballad they ever recorded. Now I’ll admit it sounds like an Alice Cooper rip-off and isn’t the greatest song ever, but after listening to 11 albums worth of in your face ball busting rockers by this band. It’s kind of nice to hear them attempt to do something a little gentler. The rest of the CD goes the way you’d expect. The Bon Scott era songs are fun and entertaining. But when you get the Brian Johnson songs, they start out ok and get lamer and lamer as they progress through the years. Thankfully there are more Scott than Johnson songs on this disc.
The second disc is labeled “Live” and is exactly what it says it is. Though the disc is essentially split 50/50 between the two singer’s songs, sadly the majority are performed by Brian Johnson, which is somewhat of a disappointment*. Another let down of this set is that there really nothing rare about any of the songs on this disc. Though they may be rare versions of these tunes, it’s mainly their most popular and over played songs. I don’t even have to list the titles, just think of 10 or 12 of the last AC/DC songs you were subjected to on the radio in the last month and you know which songs are included in this collection. Now I get it, these are a collection of B sides, singles, and soundtrack songs, and it’s rather common for a band to include live versions of their most popular songs as B-side and bonuses. But as a music nerd, I want to hear songs I don’t hear every day. To be honest, when I was listening to the CD’s last night after about 6 or 7 songs of this disc I got bored and turned it off and threw on the DVD.
Which brings me to the final disc of this box set, the DVD, which is mainly promotional videos for a bunch of songs that I think originally appeared on various sound tracks over the years. For the most part, all the video’s and the songs are terrible. There is one song which Arnold Shwarzenegger is lurking about, which is moderately amusing for 30 seconds. The rest are easily forgettable songs featuring the band in various situations where they are rocking out. After the first two videos’ I couldn’t make it past the first chorus of each song before I skipped to the next tune. The only video’s I found worth watching were the few Bon Scott songs that are buried toward the end of the DVD. Even those are kind of painful.
While trying to make my way through this DVD last night, one thing stood out to me. For the past 40 years, AC/DC has not only been writing the same song over and over again, they have been making the same video repeatedly through that same time. For real, jump on YouTube and search AC/DC promotional video’s and you’ll see the same thing over and over again. All five band members will be standing in the same spot pretending to be playing the song the exact same way for every tune. Angus Young will be the only one running around, but even then, he’ll doing the exact same moves in every video. Brian Johnson will be standing in the same awkward positions pretending to scream but looking like he is not sure what he’s doing. For the few Bon Scott videos, he doesn’t even try to pretend to be singing the songs. (Though he does appear to be enjoying himself). The only difference from song to song will be the scenario that the band is rocking out in and how much effort the band decided they want to put into pretending to be playing the song. That’s it.
The only video I’d say is worth checking out is ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock N Roll)’. Only for the fact you get to watch the band set up in a court yard of what looks like a college campus with about 50 people standing around them looking completely confused as to what they are watching. Plus, you get to watch Bon Scott rock out on the bagpipes. That alone it worth the 3 minutes of your day.
*That’s not fair to say, he performs these songs just fine.