ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 11, 1997
By Steve Newton
My reviewer’s copy of the long-overdue AC/DC box set was labelled with a warning that it was not for sale and “must be returned on demand of recording company”. Yeah, right—I’d like to see Warner Brothers just try to get this prized package back. They’d have to send Bon Scott’s reanimated corpse to collect, and even then he’d have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
Bonfire is a godsend for anyone who’s ever revelled in the ear-bustin’ boogie blues of the Aussie quintet’s ’70s heyday. It includes more than three hours of rare and/or previously unreleased live and studio material, compiled by the band to showcase the gleefully demented vocal stylings of Scott, who was found dead in 1980 following a mammoth whisky binge.
The leadoff disc is a live radio broadcast from the Atlantic Recording Studios in New York that captures the band in full flight on raunchy tracks such as “Live Wire” and “Problem Child”. “Disc 2” is actually a double-disc version of the shot-in-Paris concert film Let There Be Rock: The Movie, and since five of the tunes from Disc 1 are also featured here, there is some overlapping involved. But that’s one of only two complaints about Bonfire that I can manage, the other being that there’s a lack of material from AC/DC’s underrated Powerage album.
Disc 3, subtitled Volts, is the most intriguing portion of Bonfire, including as it does alternate takes such as “Dirty Eyes” (the original title and lyrics to the riffs of “Whole Lotta Rosie”) and “Back Seat Confidential” (Scott’s first title and lyrics to the riffs that ended up as “Beatin Around the Bush”). The fifth and final disc is a remastered version of the band’s first (and best) post-Scott release, Back in Black, so all the AC/DC freaks who already own the original can flog it and put the proceeds towards a shot of Jack Daniel’s.
Bon would have liked that.