While it may have been more fun to watch them in concert than listen to this record, AC/DC’s first live album “If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It” will still have music fans grooving to the relentless beats of the infamous Australian hard rock band. The album cover shows Angus Young impaled by his own guitar while original lead singer Bon Scott stands behind him with an incredibly demonic look on his face. It’s their ever so subtle way of telling the listener that they are about to hear some nasty rock and roll their parents won’t approve of, and they ain’t about to apologize for that.
This album was recorded while the band was on their “Powerage” Tour back in 1978, and it captures them as they begin to find an audience of fans outside of their native Australia. Included on it are songs from “High Voltage,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” “Let There Be Rock,” and of course “Powerage.” Things get off to a fantastic start with “Riff Raff” as Angus commands the audience’s attention with his lightning quick riffs. The listener will be unable to keep his or her feet still while listening to it.
Angus Young, one of the greatest rock guitarists ever, makes himself known with his amazing solos on songs like “The Jack” which captures the band’s love for the blues. By the time he gets to one of the later tracks like “Let There Be Rock,” one can’t help but wonder how he finds the energy to keep going full throttle without breaking any strings on his guitar. Listening to him play away is thrilling and it’s easy to believe that he could pluck away at any six string ever given to him in his sleep. There’s no getting sick of his amazing talent!
But the other band member who deserves as much attention here is the late Bon Scott. Scott sounds magnetic and he holds his own with Angus and the rest of the band. This was his next to last album with AC/DC (the last being “Highway to Hell”) before his tragic death in 1980. With all due respect to Brian Johnson who took over lead vocals when the band recorded “Back In Black,” Scott had a better vocal range and always sounded like he was having the time of his life onstage while singing “Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation” or getting the audience to chant “HIGH” during the band’s performance of “High Voltage.”
The rest of AC/DC makes their presence known as well throughout this live album. Angus’ brother Malcolm Young plays a mean rhythm guitar which Angus can improvise off of endlessly. Cliff Williams’ bass guitar is supremely powerful and keeps the audience revved up during “High Voltage” and “Let There Be Rock.” And finally there is drummer Phil Rudd who pounds away on his set and keeps everyone else in line as Bon sings and Angus lets loose on a solo which he sounds like he cannot fully control (not that it’s a big problem or anything).
Actually, this is one of those live albums that could have been a double album instead. While it’s great to hear the band rocking away on these songs, fans will miss other favorites like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” or “T.N.T.” Unlike most other live recordings, this one feels surprisingly short and could have gone on for much longer. AC/DC must have realized this year’s later on their double live album which captured them while they were on “The Razor’s Edge” tour.
Listening to it again in its remastered edition, the sound design is incredible. Fans will feel like they are at the concert they are listening to, and they will be able to picture Angus doing his Chuck Berry two step move across the stage. AC/DC remains a powerhouse of a rock group after an amazingly long run. “If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It” showed them full of potential when in front of a live audience, and hearing it again proves that none of that potential has ever been wasted.
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