Ballsy blues-metal of AC/DC’s Family Jewels riles the budgie

ACDC - Family Jewel front


By Steve Newton

Some AC/DC fans feel that the band never recovered from the death of original vocalist Bon Scott; others argue that the Aussie earbusters hit their peak when Brian Johnson took over the mike on Back in Black.

No matter which side you’re on, if you’re an AC/DC fan (and who isn’t?) you’ll find lots to like about this 40-track, two-and-a-half-hour compilation of videos, which pays equal homage to both singers. There’s no doubt, though, that Disc 1, which sports the Bon Scott material, is the main attraction. It boasts some hilarious archival material that captures the band at its devilish best, while Disc 2 includes more filler, including no fewer than five clips from the so-so Fly on the Wall album of ’85.

Family Jewels opens with a priceless bit of footage from 1975 that shows the band on ABC-TV’s Countdown, tearing up Big Joe Williams’s “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, with the tattooed Scott resplendent in blond pigtails, makeup, and a schoolgirl outfit.

Scary stuff indeed.

On the next track, “Show Business”, the impish runt goes vaudeville, hamming it up in a striped jacket and straw hat, brandishing a cane. The sound production is weak on that song–even the “audio supervision” of Langley’s own Mike Fraser couldn’t save it–but it’s worth it to see Scott’s mischievous show-biz antics. “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” finds the quintet roaming the streets of downtown Melbourne on a flatbed truck, Scott blowing along with the Rats of Tobruk Pipe Band.

By the time the live version of “T.N.T.” from a 1976 Countdown taping hit the tube, both my kids started bouncing around the living room, swept up in the ballsy blues-metal racket. Seven-year-old Tess got so riled by Angus Young’s nasty riffs on “Jailbreak” that she leapt off the couch, lost her footing, and took out the side table that’s home to her budgie’s cage. The cage hit the floor in a mess of birdseed and gravel, but fortunately its shocked inhabitant, Bluey, was fine. Fifteen minutes later the turquoise perch-hugger was loudly chirping along to “Shot Down in Flames”.

Like I said, who isn’t an AC/DC fan?

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