‘AC/DC Live’ is Pretty Great! | Album Review

This past Friday, while helping my mom do some last-minute Christmas shopping, I went to the Book Off at Pearlridge, hoping that I’d find at least one new AC/DC album to add to my collection. It wasn’t The Razors Edge (1990), but it was something better, AC/DC Live: 2 CD Collector’s Edition (1992). As you’ve read on my previous AC/DC album review, you’d know that I wasn’t a fan of The Razors Edge, and I’m still not a fan of it, but I was willing to buy it for “Thunderstruck.” However, because AC/DC Live features live recordings of a few songs from The Razors Edge, I thought that was a good substitute!

I got the re-release from 2003, so I didn’t get an Angus buck or a poster, but I didn’t mind! I don’t need any more pictures on my wall, and I’d probably lose that buck anyway. It was $18, and though it was cheaper on Amazon ($13), I bought the Book Off one because I’ve had problems with Amazon recently, and why let good CDs go to waste? As a warning, for any music lover that wants to buy AC/DC Live, get the two-CD collector’s edition because it has more songs, including “Sin City,” “High Voltage,” and “Jailbreak.”

The setlist was another reason why I bought this live release! The band has only released three live albums throughout their career. Those are If You Want Blood You’ve Got It (1978), AC/DC Live (1992), and Live at River Plate (2012). Songs like “That’s the Way I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Heatseeker,” “Who Made Who,” “Moneytalks,” and “The Razors Edge” are only on AC/DC Live: 2 CD Collector’s Edition. Also, this was the first live album where Brian Johnson would cover Bon Scott’s songs. He put his unique spin on “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” “Sin City,” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and “Let There Be Rock.”

Now, in terms of Chris Slade, I still don’t like him. He kept time on most of the songs, but his style is too busy for AC/DC, and he’s all about speed. Songs like “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and “That’s the Way I Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll” were sped up, and it ruined the vibe of those tracks. Slade’s real screw up, however, was on “T.N.T.” The drum intro was twice as fast before dropping to the original tempo by the time the oi’s kicked in. But he wasn’t terrible on all the tracks; the bass drums on “Thunderstruck” are still badass, and I liked his rendition of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” 

As for the longer tracks, maybe it’s cause I’ve watched way too many live performances, but I enjoyed listening to “Let There Be Rock,” “High Voltage,” and “Jailbreak.” The latter is almost 15 minutes, while the version on Live at Donington (1992) is about 20 minutes. Because I know what happens during the song, I enjoyed listening to these recordings. I can picture Angus Young running around the stage and his brother Mal leading the rhythm section, then over the halfway mark, Angus does his striptease. Speaking of “Jailbreak,” that’s my favorite recording on the album because Malcolm Young’s guitar is loud and crystal clear; you can hear every note he plays. Plus, it’s so badass how he starts off the song with that killer riff!

“High Voltage” is another cool one because of Johnson’s screams and his crowd interaction, but also the jam session where everyone locks in with the groove, including Slade. “Who Made Who” sounds amazing live; Mal’s guitar is on fire, Johnson screeching away, Slade keeping time, Angus going nuts on the guitar as usual, and you can hear Cliff Williams (at least in the intro)! Slade’s fast tempo came in handy for “Fire Your Guns,” and the adrenaline added to the effect. The Young brothers’ guitars are piercing as ever on classics like “Shoot to Thrill,” “Highway to Hell,” “Back in Black,” and “Hells Bells.” During live performances, it’s easy to tell who’s playing what, which I like!

Final verdict: I’d give this live album 4.5 out of 5 stars. I’d also like to point out that guitar and vocal overdubs got added during post-production, and the recordings are from different dates on The Razors Edge tour, but that doesn’t change my thoughts on it.

Let me know in the comments below what you think of AC/DC Live!

Take care and see ya real soon!

Lana

42 thoughts on “‘AC/DC Live’ is Pretty Great! | Album Review

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      1. Woah that’s interesting! Looking at the Wikipedia for it, the setlist has such variety from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Rocker, Baby Please Don’t Go, Guns for Hire, and Ride On. How much was it?

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  1. The 2CD is the only way to go, on this one. I love this live set! I also havea couple of other live albums of theirs… I’ve never seen them in concert, myself, but I feel like these live albums give a pretty accurate snapshot of the sound and experience!

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    1. The setlist was amazing right?!?! Who Made Who, The Razors Edge, High Voltage, and Jailbreak too!!! I agree about the sound and experience, you can definitely feel the adrenaline rush while listening to their live albums. Hopefully we get to experience the real thing once concerts make a safe return!

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  2. Poor Chris Slade! He will never catch a break from Lana, lol

    I’m not sure how much he can be faulted for the tempo of the songs. I’m positive that is Mal and Angus’ doing. Slade was just a hired gun doing what he is told. You can find live tracks of them playing Rosie in the ’80s with Simon and they play it just as fast. I never minded that song sped up, but your right on You Shook Me. Messing with the tempo on that one kind of spoils it.

    You’re spot on with Jailbreak and being able to hear Mal. I just to practice my open guitar G-A-G-E chords to that one and get them to sound just like how he plays them.

    Great write up, Lana! I’m glad you rescued those CDs!

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    1. Yep, I watch his every move haha! And if he messes with my favorite AC/DC song, that’s where he draws the line lol!

      Well you’re right in a way because didn’t Mal want Fire Your Guns to be played a certain way and he made Chris do it over and over again until it sounded right? Huh, that’s interesting, I’ll have to do more digging on Simon Wright. My ears aren’t wrong on TNT though right? I was worried about mentioning that, thinking my ears were messed up. But I swear something was odd about TNT from that album. Oh well!

      Oh that’s cool! Do you have videos of you playing guitar? I’d love to see you channel your inner Malcolm Young.

      Thanks for reading Kevin and I’m glad I rescued those CDs too, they’re in a good home now lol!

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      1. Yes, you have great ears! There is something funky going on with the intro to TNT. The intro is quick, then it tempo slows right down when Mal kicks in. I think it is two performances spliced together. If you play down the version from the Live at Donington show, it is all the same tempo. I’m not sure why this was done. They might have just like the growl on the opening chord on that cut.

        Regardless of why, I guarantee you it was intentional. Slade would be immediately fired if he was messing up that badly. No way the Youngs would put up with that. Also, there is no way it would have made the album if it was a mistake. There are plenty of shows they could have grabbed from if they didn’t like that recording of the song.

        I do have some videos of me playing on my phone. Just to hear myself to make sure I’m not messing up too much. Maybe one day I’m post something legit.

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      2. Yep the Donington performance was fine, but according to Wikipedia, the recording on the album was from one gig. But it was edited, so maybe!

        Yeah it could be intentional. The boys wouldn’t release something that thought was terrible, but it sounds really bad in my perspective. They should’ve used the recording from Donington if that was the case!

        Yay! I’d love to see that video one day. How often do you play?

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      3. I was playing a lot over the summer but have slowed down a bit right now. So, sporadically to answer your question, lol

        OK, so TNT was recorded in Birmingham in ’91.
        I found a bootleg of it. To me the slow down feels gradual here. What do you think? Also, take note how this video was posted in 2015 and has yet to reach 100 views.
        I think we might be the only two people who care about this, lol https://youtu.be/7lKhPg4TqFA

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      4. Ah I see lol. I remember you saying on Mike’s show that you bought that microphone and stuff you use when appearing on Mike’s show for your guitar playing yeah, but then it became more for your podcasts yeah? That’s what made me think of that.

        Ok so that bootleg is from April 22, 1991. But the recording on the album was on April 23, 1991 (then again, it probably didn’t make much of a difference). The bass drums start off fast, then slow down five seconds in, but then drops to the original tempo at the 20 second mark (technically 29 second mark since the song starts at 0:08 for the video). But then again, you’d have to be listening carefully to notice. The recording on the live album is easier to tell the tempo change. Live at Donington was recorded on Aug. 17, 1991 and that live performance is much better where they stick to the same tempo the whole time. They must’ve had more time to practice lol.

        If you compare Phil Rudd’s version and Chris Slade’s version, they sound completely different. Slade’s intro is more busy with eight notes, while Phil plays mostly quarter notes on the toms. Live at River Plate sounds like he added snare too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44XYEeD1A1U

        With the exception of this performance from 1981 where he plays some eight notes about 5 seconds in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXZoWTvkBqM I should do more research on this, but I’d be insane to do so lol!

        In this recording in 1977 at the Hippodrome is really interesting because he hits quarter notes on the toms like sledge hammers (while working that kick drum). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJfT0n5zvZg

        Ok yeah maybe we are the only ones that care about this haha! I may already be insane at this point! I was in percussion in high school, but I never played drumset, so if my info is wrong, I’m sorry!

        Btw, this took me about an hour and 30 minutes to respond back, that’s how serious I am about this lol!

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      5. Ah man, sorry about the dates! They did three shows in three days Birmingham that year! Crazy!

        Well, I think all of your hard work has paid off because I believe we have enough evidence to conclude that tempo change between the intro for TNT and the rest of the song on AC/DC Live is indeed a result of artistic licence by Chris Slade.

        It appears that Phil Rudd is consistent with the tempo for TNT even when changing the performance. The intro during The Hippodrome performance, for example, is an elaborate change for the TV cameras, yet his tempo remains consistent and in sync with Mal’s.

        Given that we have recordings of Chris Slade performing the intro at different tempos (Donington, Birmingham April 22, and Birmingham April 23) than makes any need adjustment on the fly to match Mal, it is safe to conclude that his tempo is inconsistent.

        I do hesitate to call it a “mistake” since Angus and Mal are the constant band members in each video, and they both appear to be fine with Chris performing this way. And, the fact that the most glaring example of Slade inconsistency on April 23rd is the cut that made an official release in 1992 further demonstrates Angus and Mal’s complacency.

        With that said, Angus and Mal’s leniency is only partly to blame as Chris Slade is the one who is mostly at fault. He is remarkably inconsistent when he does not need to be and anyone is perfectly within their rights to not like how he performs it.

        For me, out of all of the intros we discussed, I believe the Rudd’s River Plate intro sounds the most “correct”. It is simple and flows seamlessly into the song. It is probably the result of playing it for 40 years. Meanwhile, Slade was just a session drummer who got a gig with AC/DC in the early ‘90s, lol

        It took me 2.5 hours off and on at work to analyse all of the intros and type this response. This has been fun!

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      6. Three shows in three days?!?! They certainly were busy, weren’t they? Haha!

        Yep, all the research proved that Chris Slade’s tempo on TNT was not consistent. And that could just be a habit he never bothered to improve on! Interestingly enough at this performance in 2016 (I might’ve sent you this, but for a different reason), he starts off normal tempo, then the song speeds up on the oi’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L66Lyc8c9v4 That one might be a mix of Stevie and Slade’s fault, since Stevie hasn’t played the song much and Slade’s inconsistency is expected with his past performances.

        Phil’s performance at the Hippodrome is just mind-blowing. He’s so into the groove and the heavy drums make the song more badass! I think with Phil’s style, he’s always been consistent. He ain’t called the human metronome for nothing! The intro is just quarter notes too. In my experience in high school band, it’s easier to play quarter notes, compared to eighth notes. Point being, the busier the intro, the harder it will be to stay consistent with the tempo. Take a look at Angus’s foot tapping to the intro to TNT in 1985, it’s not in sync with Simon Wright’s tempo. He’s playing eighth notes, like Slade. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXSEvHq1Hb4

        Yeah, and like I said before. Slade’s style doesn’t fit with the band. Mal even said so himself, Phil’s style fit the band better with the groove and simpleness of the drums!

        Yeah maybe “mistake” was going a bit too far. They liked him for a reason, which is why they hired Slade in the first place. I still don’t get why the boys used that recording for the album because the live at Donington one was much better, but who knows! But you are right, they never fired him until Phil came back, so they were ok with it and they did ask him to return in 2015. So maybe the boys liked Slade and wanted to try something different for AC/DC.

        According to that recording from 2016, Slade never improved on staying consistent for TNT, therefore I agree with your point about him being mostly at fault. Everyone has their opinions and there are some that like Slade, so I’lll respect that!

        I never included this, but I love Phil’s version on No Bull from 1996 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRicGJXQ-IQ, I just love his drum sound from that night overall, especially on Thunderstruck. Live at River Plate is the best out of the ones we discussed though. I agree, Phil has been playing that song with the boys for years and has experimented in terms of what works and what doesn’t. Going back to busy intros, I’ve also concluded that the more busy the intro is, the more Slade screws up. If you listen to this recording of Thunderstruck from 2016, Slade starts off fast, then when Angus comes in, the tempo slows down gradually. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb54wxS5ACk

        2.5 hours? Now, that’s dedication my friend! I’ve been enjoying this as well! I feel like I was reading a court case on who’s to blame for AC/DC’s inconsistent tempo changes on TNT haha! Props to you on your comment and for making informative conclusions.

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  3. No Chris Slade for Lana? I guess I can accept this! I always liked that goofy bald head bopping up and down by the drum kit.

    Really nice that you got the 2 CD set. I can tell it’s the re-release which I have as well. But I stole an Angus bill from another older copy at work and kept it with my set 🙂

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    1. I think another reason why I didn’t like Slade was cause he didn’t fit the look for AC/DC. He looked too serious, I’m not sure it was cause of his bald head, but who knows!

      Haha you stole the Angus bill from another copy at work! Nice! What was the one where Brian isn’t cut off? I know Kevin brought that up on his blog.

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      1. I’ve had it for a while, but I did pick it up second hand. Not complaining too much, it comes with a huge fold out booklet that is a big picture of the Whole Lotta Rosie inflatable on stage with all the credits on the other side of the foldout.

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  4. This one’s the only AC/DC CD I have (though I do have the Donington DVD as well), but I like it quite a lot. I guess I’m a Brian Johnson guy (But I do love Axl Rose in AC/DC as well.)

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    1. I’m a Brian Johnson guy too actually. Oddly enough, I didn’t like Bon live at first and I had to watch more performances to get into it. Part of the problem was that I couldn’t understand what Bon was singing at times, but I’m fine with him now.

      It’s interesting you like them with Axl Rose, then again you are the contrarian. Nah, Axl did them a favor by filling in for Brian when they needed to finish the rest of the tour, so I give him props for that!

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      1. To me, Axl Rose did the Brian Johnson stuff just as good as Brian. The Bon stuff he kinda sucked at. But I think he was far better than anyone thought he would be.

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      2. That must be why Axl was fine on “Back in Black, “Thunderstruck,” and “For Those About to Rock” (I think). “Rock or Bust” was a bit weird because it was a bit high, but yeah! The Bon songs were weird now that you mention it!

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