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CD Review: AC/DC

Backtracks (Columbia)


This mix of odds and sods is decidedly more geared to dedicated collector than casual fan. AC/DC's genius — remarkably minimalist bluesy hard-rock bluster, amped to 11, and driven by guitarist Angus Young's dirty, bone-breaking riffage — lends itself more to great singles than deep-seated album cuts, making 18 tracks of outtakes somewhat superfluous. Despite the occasional overlooked track (chunky rave-up "R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)," the Stonesy "Stick Around"), most is forgettable fodder culled from Australian releases and 12-inches.

The two discs of concert performance (29 tracks) really showcase their crackling stage energy. One could complain about only four tracks from the Bon Scott-led iteration (though replacement Brian Johnson does a fine imitation), but it's apparent that by their arena-rock heyday, they'd become a real locomotive live. The accompanying DVD assembles 15 videos (mostly non-hits from '90s) and a couple of performances. But how many fans will buy the standard edition when much of it replicates what's already out there? At least the $199 deluxe edition comes in a novelty replica of Young's amp, a coffee-table book, an additional concert DVD and vinyl of the outtakes disc. — Chris Parker

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