Bonfire (1997)

Disc One 1. Live Wire 2. Problem Child 3. High Voltage 4. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be 5. Dog Eat Dog 6. The Jack 7. Whole Lotta Rosie 8. Rocker Disc Two 1. Live Wire 2. Shot Down in Flames 3. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be 4. Sin City 5. Walk All Over You 6. Bad Boy Boogie Disc Three 1. The Jack 2. Highway to Hell 3. Girls Got Rhythm 4. High Voltage 5. Whole Lotta Rosie 6. Rocker 7. T.N.T. 8. Let There Be Rock Disc Four 1. Dirty Eyes 2. Touch Too Much 3. If You Want Blood (You Got It) 4. Back Seat Confidential 5. Get it Hot 6. Sin City 7. She's Got Balls 8. School Days 9. It's A Long Way To the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll 10.Ride On Disc Five (Back in Black album) 1. Hells Bells 2. Shoot to Thrill 3. What Do You Do For Money Honey 4. Given the Dog a Bone 5. Let Me Put My Love Into You 6. Back in Black 7. You Shook Me All Night Long 8. Have a Drink On My 9. Shake a Leg 10.Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution


Definitely a bit unconventional as the whole “box set” thing goes. At this stage in their career, it certainly made sense to release a box set, as just about every other artist was doing so. Unfortunately, this one can be a bit misleading in terms of its content, and looking at the package, also tends to be a bit bloated. Not necessarily in material but in packaging.

First, this box set is actually designed to be a homage to original singer Bon Scott (hence the title) who accidentally killed himself by choking on his own vomit after passing out drunk back in 1980 – just as the band was starting to become popular. So the first four out of these five discs feature only old, mostly rare, material featuring Bon Scott. Well, fans of the band know that the first record the band released after Scott died, 1980’s Back in Black was in dedication to the former front man. Ironically, that album became the biggest thing that the band ever did in terms of sales, and ranks as one of the best-selling albums ever. Well, because that album was dedicated to Bon, it’s actually included here as Disc number 5. In its entirety. From front to back. It’s seems silly and unnecessary. So the first thing that would have made this compilation better would have been to have left that entire album off and keep this thing “true” to Bon Scott, while at the same time, perhaps charging a lower price.

What we have on the other four discs is mostly first rate. It might not be top notch quality wise, but it features a good mixture of Bon Scott related material. Although a lot of it has been “commercially” available, that doesn’t necessarily mean the compact disc format where one can go to a store and purchase it. Disc One is the band playing at an Atlantic Records bash in New York City from 1977. The crowd sounds awfully small, yet mightily enthused as the band rips through eight of their earliest “classics”. Disc Two and Three are from a 1979 show in Paris, France. I’m told it’s from a concert movie. Again, the album is very high in energy. It’s a bit rough around the edges in terms of production (a lot of loud hissing and instrument “humming” between songs) and the Parisian audience is not match for a loud of loud wailing obnoxious screamers from Glasgow, Scotland (where their first live album was made), so the listening experience suffers ever so slightly.

The fourth disc is mostly unreleased demos and/or alternate versions of released songs. The tunes are pretty good, pretty welcome, yet you can hear a lot of similarities between these “unreleased” songs and the legitimate songs that they morphed into. They also include a few tracks that are so similar to their “official” counterparts, that their inclusion here seems unnecessary. It almost sounds as though the band was trying very hard to stretch the material that they had into five discs, when they probably should have worked, instead, on shortening this thing to three discs. It could have been done, although some of the continuity might have been lost. Better yet, why not, after whittling down to three, just throw the whole “it’s just about Bon” idea out the window and include a lot of great unreleased and/or live stuff during the Brian Johnson era? To add to the irony, they released another box set in 2009 (Backtracks) that goes back and “gets” more old material along with several Brian Johnson era cuts as well.

Even though these two compilations were released twelve years apart, it almost seems as though it would have made better sense to somehow combine these two anthologies into one, massive collection that would help the material stand up better.

Again, it’s not that this isn’t a great box set, it just might not exactly what many would expect.

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