AC/DC – ‘Backtracks Guitar Amp Box Set’ (Sony) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Johnny H   
Monday, 09 November 2009 08:16


acdc_ampWithout doubt this has to stand as my most extravagant musical purchase of all time, I mean a box set that doubles up as an amp, c'mon you must be slightly intrigued to say the least.  I certainly was and I'm now £200 lighter of pocket as a result.


As the more readily available 2 CD and 1 DVD set also gets a worldwide release in early November I thought I'd take this chance to tell you what you are about to get from that set and what extra bits I got for my hard earned.


Most recently AC/DC fans have certainly had a lot to cheer about, the band having released one of their best albums in a long, long time in 'Black Ice', toured extensively in support of said opus, whilst also managing to releasing some quality archive product in the shape of the 'Plug Me In' and 'Family Jewels' DVD sets. 


So 'Backtracks' in either of its formats is really an extension of this with the release having CD's and DVD's of some long lost gems just ready for you to discover. 


acdc_cdsOf the CD's the Studio and First Live CD are available in both box set versions, and if you are to buy this set for anything it must be the 'Bon-era' live stuff on this first live CD.  The first four tracks on this CD show why this band were so essential to us as music fans growing up in the late seventies, fusing hard edge blues ('Dog Eat Dog' Glasgow 1979) with a punk rock attitude ('Dirty Deeds' live in Melbourne 1977) that was the perfect springboard for the stadium success that followed. Taking nothing away from the 'Brian-era' live tracks that follow, but these opening four cuts are for me what AC/DC was always about.


The studio CD that also comes in both sets is a bit of a mixed bag for hardcore AC/DC fans like myself.  The fact that tracks like 'Love Song' and 'Stick Around' have been in our collections for decades, like the other Australian release tracks found on this disc, can only really show you how much archive AC/DC studio stuff is in short supply, I guess. But in 'Carry Me Home' you do get a very welcome B-side addition to your collection in a fully remastered format. The latter day tracks that make up the final third of this studio CD sees the likes of 'Snake Eye' and 'Big Gun' raising their heads once more, but as they are pretty standard AC/DC by numbers tracks that failed to excite me first time around, you have to wonder why acdc_lprelease them again now? And here in is the point of this collection, not everyone is a hardcore AC/DC fan and I'm guessing it will entice these less avid listeners to invest in the 2CD and 1 DVD release well in time for Christmas if nothing else.


The exclusive vinyl in the Guitar Amp Box Set takes twelve selected highlights from this studio CD and presents it on two sides of very nice 180gm wax, but this is hardly essential for anyone other than audiophiles (steady on kids, that's audiophiles) out there.


The second live CD (exclusive to the Guitar Amp Box Set) is also something of a disappointment for any diehard fan as although the tracks sound like they have been recorded in your front room and are razor edge sharp in deliver, you cannot help but think that taking audio tracks from previously released DVD's is something of an easy cop out for the people putting this set together.


Moving on to the DVD's, the 'Family Jewels Volume 3' DVD available in both versions of 'Backtracks' does everything you expect it to, bringing you fully up to date video wise with all things Angus and Co, whilst adding in some classic bonus videos that really do make you smile.  This rounds off a very nice 2CD and 1 DVD package for as I previously stated the maybe more 'casual' AC/DC fan.


Then comes the first of the reasons to really invest in the Guitar Amp Box Set, the 'Live At The Circus Krone 2003' DVD. This big top show from Munich, Germany is absolutely fantastic stuff, taking a set list from the entire spectrum of the band's career and adding in live rarities such as 'What's Next To The Moon'. You can almost feel yourself starting to sweat along with the band as the show reaches a fever pitch. It really is AC/DC up close and personal and when any AC/DC set delivers 'Rock N Roll Ain't Noise Pollution' you can put me down for a front row ticket any day of the week.


acdc_bookNext up and moving away from the music directly, the Guitar Amp Box Set gives you the other real reason to invest in this set, and that is the absolutely mind blowing 164 page coffee table book. Think of the sublime 'Kisstory' book (well, Volume One at least) and think of a streamlined picture heavy archive set that traces the band's entire career and you'll soon be getting the picture (geddit). Packed with stuff I'd never seen before outside of the recent Proud Gallery exhibition I attended this really is essential stuff for your hardcore AC/DC fan.


The contents of the Guitar Amp Box Set are rounded off with some rather splendid original memorabilia reproductions that'll never see the light of day in my house, but I could totally understand someone wanting to have the iconic 'I Do It For AC/DC' tour button on their jacket, for bragging rights if nothing else.



Which leaves only the box itself; with all its AC/DC 1977-guitar amp novelty value. I've not tested the amp itself, but the box construction is something of a let down, with no closing mechanism for the lift off lid and the overall hard card construction coming over as a bit cheap, given the box set's price tag. But then again I was never going to be expecting a working mini Marshall Amp for my money was I...well, was I?


As a £200 luxury purchase this really is the ideal Christmas gift for the AC/DC nut in your house that is maybe not such a pernickety bastard as I am (I've included the direct link below where you can order these sets from and the Guitar Amp Box Set is shipped direct to you at lightning speed via UPS from the US - I had mine within four days).


If however, as a more casual fan, you are looking at the 2 CD and 1 DVD version and don't have the Australian Bon era albums already in your collection then this release really is an essential piece to your AC/DC musical jigsaw, one that I now sadly fear is fast nearing completion.approved_image_lrg


To pick up your copy of 'Backtracks' [Amp Version] - CLICK HERE