Released: 2009, Columbia
I’m on a bit of an AC/DC kick after having read a couple of the recent AC/DC biographies so I picked up their latest musical offering, BACKTRACKS. BACKTRACKS is a marvellous and comprehensive three-disc set covering many aspects of their career.
The packaging itself is designed to look like an amplifier with embossed, die-cut finish, it looks and feels great. The box houses two CDs and a DVD and a booklet. The booklet is over 30 pages, full colour with many interesting photos and liner-notes. Excellent presentation and value!
Disc One is called Studio Rarities which is a minute collection of 12 rarities, including songs from soundtracks, B-sides and alternate cuts available on the original Australian versions dating way back to the 70s. It’s nice to have these tracks all in one place. The sound quality is pretty good as well, although you can certainly tell the older stuff is showing it’s age. I don’t believe there is any officially unreleased material so the die-hard collectors of singles and alternate pressings might have all of this music already, but for ‘regular’ fans it is a great look into the past. It was a treat to hear Bon’s voice again on some ‘new’ (to me!) songs.
Disc Two, Live Rarities, is a live disc clocking in an enormous 78 minutes spanning 15 live cuts from across the globe and across most of their career from 1977 to 2000. The rare songs included come from shows in England, Scotland, America, Russia and Australia. Highlights are a much faster version of ‘Let There Be Rock’ from 1981, “Guns For Hire’ from 1983 and from 1985, an extended 13+ minute version of ‘Jailbreak’ with Brian Johnson on vocals. The sound quality varies widely from show to show but none of it is poor or unlistenable.
Disc Three is titled Family Jewels and is the companion piece to the 2005 DVD of the same name. It has the nine official videos the band has released since 1990 including the hilarious ‘Big Gun’ from the Last Action Hero soundtrack featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger dressed as Angus! The format, (design and graphics) is the same as Family Jewels so visually, it blends seamlessly with the original compilation.
It is great to have these videos in one place because since most North American music video channels (MTV, Much Music) stopped playing rock (and music videos in general!) about 10 years ago. I had not seen six of the videos and considering the drastically reduced video audience I wonder why the band even bothers with these huge budget and production videos any more. It also features another seven bonus videos that are quite rare, especially a day-time outdoor performance of ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ in front of an audience (of people passing by) that is alternately amused and/or disgusted. The DVD is rounded out for a few short interview clips and an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the ‘Hard As A Rock’ and ‘Rock N Roll Train’ videos.
This is a fantastic set, well thought out, lots of gems for the fans, it looks good and sounds good. An essential piece for an AC/DC fan.