Down Under 1974 (Archive Master Series)
(68:50) Festival Hall, Melbourne, Australia – December 31, 1974: She’s Got Balls, Soul Stripper, Show Business, Can I Sit Next To You Girl, Baby Please Don’t Go. Paris Theatre, London, England – July 8, 1976: It’s A Long Way To The Top, Soul Stripper, Baby Please Don’t Go. Maida Vale 4 Studios, London, England – June 3, 1976: Little Lover, Can I Sit Next To You Girl, Live Wire. Wimbleton Theatre, London, England – August 26, 1976: Jailbreak
A few months ago a long hoarded piece of AC/DC history appeared, briefly, on a well know torrent tracker. The recording has long been know to exist and the topic of much excitement among collectors, it is now the earliest know recording of AC/DC with newly appointed singer Bon Scott, who had recently just joined the band the previous September after the band ousted Dave Evans. The soundboard Radio broadcast recording features the band’s set as part of a multi act set at the Festival Hall in Melbourne in superb quality and certainly lives up to the hype. The recording also features Bob Bailey on bass guitar and drummer Peter Clack, both of whom also played on the bands first full length record, High Voltage.
The recording is of excellent quality, clear, well balanced with a powerful sound, if anything the beginning has strong bass frequencies but it does eventually dissipate and does not interfere with ones listening experience and it deserves to be played LOUD! After the announcer introduces the band the largely sounding female audience chants “We Want Malcolm…”, given the guitarists current health and his retirement from music their chant becomes that much more poignant. Angus starts with the riff to She’s Got Balls, it is longer than usual and is heavy as hell. There are a couple of pictures from this show featuring Bon is his hot pink overalls that are incredible, who else could pull off that look? His lyric for She’s Got Balls, written about his then wife Irene, are extremely suggestive but the girls love it, especially the line about sitting on his face. Bon wishes the audience a Happy New Year and introduces Soul Stripper, his lyrics do lack a certain delivery that he would use for the version found on record and later on this CD but the song is a personal favorite from the band’s catalog.
Another highlight of this recording is an ultra rare live version of Show Business, Bon tells the audience to “shake everything you got hangin”. There is only one other live recording of this song, it appears on the official Family Jewels DVD and features Bon in a stripped hat and matching sport coat looking like a carnival barker. The song is musically like a tribute to Chuck Berry as it has his style written all over it and the band play a storming version of it, much better sound quality than the aforementioned version. Can I Sit Next To You Girl was the band’s first single they released with singer Dave Evans, while that version was more bubblegum, Bon would make the song his starting with his hilarious introduction about the songs spot in the music charts around Australia. The song has the old lead in and they band would slightly rework and make it much more straight forward, something that makes this version even more special. The musical highlight of the tape is a blistering 11 minute version of Baby Please Don’t Go featuring the band in full on boogie mode. The rhythm section holds down the beat and Angus solos like a made man over it and is by far one of the best versions ever!
The other material found on this CD is common and features the line up of Young, Young, Scott, Rudd and bassist Mark Evans. Beginning with the BBC recordings that have been on a myriad of releases dating back to vinyl on titles like Best Of Bon Scott (AC/Dc-DB), Electric Shock (WL-9), Fling Thing (NEO FONOK JDP AC1 – AC2), Live – 76 (no label Swedish) and on CD as BS We Love You (Oh Boy 2-9094), Live – 76 (WORK 5512-2) Sin City (3T 239), and The Complete Soundboard Collection With Bon Scott 1976-1979 (Wonderland WLR2149). The two recordings, although recorded done a month apart, are usually always coupled together, the versions featured here are taken from a vinyl copy and no work was done to clean them up, you can here vinyl pops scattered throughout them, regrettable since the material was issued in perfect quality on the Wonderland box set. Both recordings have their highlights, the Paris Theatre has a great live recording of Its A Long Way To The Top while the Maida Vale show features the only live version to exist of Little Lover that is pure Bon Scott tongue in cheek sleaze.
The last song on the set, not listed on the back cover is the version of Jailbreak taken from the Rollin Bolin TV show, the band performed three songs for the show and the version of Jailbreak was the only live version of the song to circulate for sometime. It has also been released on vinyl as Fling Thing (NEO FONOK JDP AC1 – AC2), Live – 76 (no label Swedish), Rip Off (CLUB 3) and on Cd as Live – 76 (WORK 5512-2), and From Bars To Stars (Kobra KRCR 03). The other songs done were Live Wire and Can I Sit Next To You Girl, sadly both of which would have fit nicely on this CD. The source for this song is also vinyl and does have the vinyl pops also, it is a nice version of the recording though but sadly it does fade towards the end of the song.
The packaging is a simple gatefold sleeve, the front cover features Cliff Williams who does not appear on the CD, the picture on the back cover is the best of the lot and features an audience shot of a girl with a Bon shirt reaching out towards her idol. The Melbourne recording is certainly worth the price alone, the rest of the disc is a sloppy mishmash of common material and hopefully someone will put together a more comprehensive version of this material as it deserves it.