November 10, 2009
Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Album Rock, Aussie Rock, Arena Rock

Album Review

As handsome as this package is -- or in the case of the super limited edition, housed in a working guitar amp, as ridiculous -- Backtracks is essentially just a clearinghouse for AC/DC rarities, rounding up all the released tracks and videos that have yet to appear on a collection, throwing in a full-length DVD of 2003 for good measure. In other words, it's a set designed for the kind of diehard who would purchase a box set housed in a working amplifier, but its pleasures aren't limited to the dedicated, particularly when it comes to early AC/DC. Prior to 1979's Highway to Hell, all the band's LPs differed in their Australian and international incarnations (one, 1975's TNT, was just cannibalized for other albums), so there are quite a few stray tracks -- a full 12, ranging from the priceless boogie "R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)" to the throwaway instrumental "Fling Thing," plus alternate takes of "High Voltage," "It's a Long Way to the Top," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," and "Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)" (only available on the deluxe, giving another good reason to opt for the big set). The studio disc is rounded out by some OK latter-day tracks, highlighted by "Big Gun" from the Last Action Hero soundtrack and the nifty little rocker "Cyberspace," and it's quite nice to have all these cuts rounded up. If the live tracks aren't quite as noteworthy, it's largely because there have already been several live releases -- proper albums, box sets, and home videos alike -- but the quality of the two CDs is quite high, opening with a clutch of Bon Scott cuts before settling into a stretch from a dynamite set from Detroit's Joe Louis Arena in 1983, then finding the group trotting around the globe on the third disc. This is supplemented by a DVD dubbed Family Jewels 3, a disc that rounds up all the videos not on the original double-disc collection, including a pair of clips from 2008's Black Ice ("Rock N Roll Train," "Anything Goes"), and alternate takes of seven videos featured on the original compilation. Finally, Backtracks ends with that 2003 show, finding AC/DC in a relatively small venue in Munich, tearing through a concert that relies heavily on early classics. It's a set list that could pretty much be called a hardcore fan's dream, which makes it a fitting close to this box, because if this is anything, it's one for the fans, the ones who have stuck with the band though 35 years of unrelenting rock & roll.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Stick Around
  2. Love Song
  3. Fling Thing
  4. R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)
  5. Carry Me Home
  6. Crabsody in Blue
  7. Cold Hearted Man
  8. Snake Eye
  9. Borrowed Time
  10. Down on the Borderline
  11. Big Gun
  12. Cyberspace
  13. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap [Live]
  14. Dog Eat Dog [Live]
  15. Live Wire [Live]
  16. Shot Down in Flames [Live]
  17. Back in Black [Live]
  18. T.N.T. [Live]
  19. Let There Be Rock [Live]
  20. Guns for Hire [Live]
  21. Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution [Live]
  22. This House Is on Fire [Live]
  23. You Shook Me All Night Long [Live]
  24. Jailbreak [Live]
  25. Highway to Hell [Live]
  26. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) [Live]
  27. Safe in New York City [Live]
  28. Big Gun [Video] [DVD]
  29. Hard As a Rock [Video] [DVD]
  30. Hail Caesar [Video] [DVD]
  31. Cover You In Oil [Video] [DVD]
  32. Stiff Upper Lip [Video] [DVD]
  33. Satellite Blues [Video] [DVD]
  34. Safe In New York City [Video] [DVD]
  35. Rock N Roll Train [Video] [DVD]
  36. Anything Goes [Video] [DVD]
  37. Jailbreak [Video] [DVD][*]
  38. It's a Long Way To the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll) [Video] [DVD][A
  39. Highway To Hell [Video] [DVD][*]
  40. You Shook Me All Night Long [Video] [DVD][*]
  41. Guns For Hire [Video] [DVD][*]
  42. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap [Video] [DVD][Live][*]
  43. Highway To Hell [Video] [DVD][Live][*]
  44. [Bonus Features]
  45. The Making of Rock N Roll Train
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