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AC/DC: Backtracks

Reviewed by Michael Popke.

Fans who issued an online plea to AC/DC complaining that the set list for the band’s current Black Ice world tour never changes just might be better off staying home and reveling in Backtracks. This two-CD/one-DVD collection brings together rare studio and live tracks that span the Australian band’s entire career.

Like most AC/DC albums, Backtracks features some filler (1977’s “Fling Thing”) but also treats even casual listeners to Australia-only gems. There’s 1975’s psychedelic ballad “Love Song;” “Crabsody In Blue,” a prickly slow-blues burner; and the riff-tastic boogie of 1987’s “Down On The Borderline.” But why is the studio disc only 46 minutes long? Surely there must be more.

The live disc isn’t nearly as revelatory — AC/DC’s live vaults have been plundered before — but it clocks in at nearly twice the length, highlighted by a 13-and-a-half-minute version of “Jailbreak” recorded in Dallas in 1985. The DVD, meanwhile, is considered the third volume of “Family Jewels” and showcases nine often cheesy and suggestive yet ultimately entertaining music videos from 1992-2009, plus seven bonus live and promo clips (some that also appeared on the first two “Family Jewels” discs). Viewed collectively, they offer the perfect opportunity to trace guitarist Angus Young’s gradual hair loss.

Available in two different versions (as are many multi-disc sets these days) Backtracks also comes in a “Deluxe Collector’s Limited Edition” that features three CDs, two DVDs, one LP and a coffee-table book — all housed in a guitar amplifier that actually works. Yes, AC/DC is still crazy after all these years.


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