Bactracks (2009)

Disc One 1. High Voltage 2. Stick Around 3. Love Song 4. It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll) 5. Rocker 6. Fling Thing 7. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 8. Ain't No Fun (Waiting 'Round to be a Millionaire) 9. R.I.P. (Rock in Peace) 10.Carry Me Home 11.Crabsody in Blue 12.Cold Hearted Man 13.Who Made Who 14.Snake Eye 15.Borrowed Time 16.Down on the Borderline 17.Big Gun 18.Cyberspace Disc Two 1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Live) 2. Dog Eat Dog (Live) 3. Live Wire (Live) 4. Shot Down in Flames (Live) 5. Back in Black(Live) 6. T.N.T.(Live) 7. Let There Be Rock(Live) 8. Guns For Hire(Live) 9. Sin City(Live) 10.Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution(Live) 11.This House is on Fire(Live) 12.You Shook Me All Night Long(Live) 13.Jailbreak(Live) 14.Shoot to Thrill(Live) 15.Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be(Live) Disc Three 1. High Voltage(Live) 2. Hells Bells(Live) 3. Whole Lotta Rosie(Live) 4. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap(Live) 5. Highway to Hell(Live) 6. Back in Black(Live) 7. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)(Live) 8. Ballbreaker(Live) 9. Hard as a Rock(Live) 10.Dog Eat Dog(Live) 11.Hail Caesar(Live) 12.Whole Lotta Rosie(Live) 13.You Shook Me All Night Long(Live) 14.Safe in New York City(Live)


This is one of those box sets that always has me scratching my head. Not only do I ask myself “why”, but I keep thinking that, if I were the one in charge, I could have made it a whole lot better.

Now, first, the “why” part. They released a box set back in 1999, Bonfire that only featured the Bon Scott era of AC/DC. That box set was not your typical “filled with hits” box set (of course, they didn’t really have any hits during the Bon Scott era), yet it was packed with live versions of the band’s material along with several b-sides and unreleased tracks. Apparently, the vaults were so bare, that they (stupidly, in my opinion) also included the entire Back in Black album. To add to the confusion, that record did not feature Bon Scott, but was the first album after his death and was sort of a “dedication”. In other words, that album was only added to generate more sales. Again, though, the band argued that there wasn’t a lot of Bon Scott unreleased material around.

So this leads us back to this box set. This box set features (surprise!) a good hunk of unreleased Bon Scott era material. Were they lying to us earlier? Or did they “just happen” to find more unreleased stuff? What I think happened is that the Bon Scott material that is here wasn’t released on the earlier box set because it, sadly, isn’t that great. Even though the material has never been released before, it’s nothing special. You can hear parts of songs that would “evolve” into some of their more well-known released cuts, so there really isn’t anything necessary. They even dive way deep down into the bottom of the barrel to resurrect a track called Love Song. Believe it or not, it really is a love song. It’s awful. There are some things that a band like AC/DC should never do. I’m really surprised the surviving members let that track see the light of day. Anyway, I guess what I’m really saying is that the Bon Scott material that is on this release should have been either: a) on the Bonfire box set, or, b) never released at all.

Which brings us to the Brian Johnson era of material. First, we have a small sampling of B-sides and unreleased material as well. Now, this stuff I really liked. I think part of the reason is that most of these unreleased cuts sound a lot better than what AC/DC had been doing as of late. Black Ice was less than spectacular, and most of what was on that album isn’t as good as the band’s “unreleased” earlier stuff. Sad, I know, but true.

So what are we left with? Well, the other 2/3 of this box set is unreleased live material from 1983-2000. Although this is the strongest part of this box set, most of what is here might be looked at as a replication of the band’s 1991 Live release. By itself, most of these songs are quite good – as they do sound like authentic AC/DC live. It just seems a bit pointless. Then, to make matters worse, they include duplicate performances of many of the live songs. Why do we need two live versions of songs such as Dog Eat Dog and Back in Black among others? Oh sure, they’re from different tours, but only the painfully astute can notice any differences.

So I would guess about 1/3 of this box set is worth listening to. The 1/3 that is listenable is very good, but you can’t help feeling that this thing was padded as heavily as possible in order to generate some more revenue. Since AC/DC wasn’t releasing new material as much as they had been, this seems to be somewhat of a poor effort to keep the revenue flowing a bit longer.

This is one of those deals where “unreleased” is basically synonymous with “unnecessary”.

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