Friday, October 12, 2012

AC/DC - '74 Jailbreak

In 1974, AC/DC released High Voltage in Australia, but it wasn't the album North America came to know as High Voltage, that album was called T.N.T. Also, the Austarial release of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap wasn't the same as the one we know as well. There were 5 tracks recorded for those two albums that never made it to the North American market (not officially) until the EP (extended play) '74 Jailbreak was released in 1984, in the United States, Canada and Japan. It would be remastered and re-released in 2003 along with the rest of the North American catalogue. I've even covered a couple of reviews from those CDs already. However, this review is for the exact same CD I originally picked up in 1993 or 1994.

I had been on a heavy AC/DC binge for a couple of years. It all started with my swiping my Uncle Matt's Highway To Hell and Back In Black cassettes, followed by getting a CD player for Christmas, and then I was out of control. Sure, I bought some other CDs in there, but over the course of maybe two years I managed to put together well over half the AC/DC catalogue and I only had Birthday and Christmas money to work with most of the time, (both of which are in the same month). I was also supporting a brand new smoking habit. But somehow I still managed to also feed my growing AC/DC obsession.

Thakfully it has toned down over the years, and there are still even some old albums I don't own. Some of which I will never own. However, before I go too much further into memory lane, let me get to the reason we are all here.

I remember Much Music playing a Spotlight on AC/DC sometime between Razor's Edge and Live, and it was a two parter that opened with the opening track from this album. Jailbreak is one of those songs I love, and I'm pissed to find out that it had been on Dirty Deeds in Australia, but not over here. That would have made the album so much more bad ass. This is one of those songs that you can hear the normal blues influence found in AC/DC, but it also has the gangland, rough and tumble, take no prisoners attitude of The Rolling Stones. To me this is still one of AC/DC's best songs. It's a bit simple, but at the same time it contains writing that is very musically expressive.

Now to be honest out of the three songs on this EP only two of them get regular play from me, Jailbreak and Baby, Please Don't Go. These are the first and last songs, repsectively, on the album. The three tracks that make up the middle don't do as much for me.

You Ain't Got A Hold On Me sounds like the left over that it is. It's not that it's a bad track, it's a really good Blues Rock track, but it's a bit typical and standard for AC/DC. That doesn't mean you shouldn't check out this track. For a song from 1974 it has a hell of a lot of boogie and danceablity to it.

The exact same thing that I wrote in the paragraph above could be applied to Show Business, except that this song sounds more like Big Band Rock, and less like Blues Rock. This is a song I could have seen Aerosmith doing, and to be honest I think the Boston natives could do the song more justice. Hell, if AC/DC had thrown a few horns on this track it would have been totally kickin'. Shit, I'd have settled for bag pipes, just to help give it that certain feel.

To this day I'm still out on Soul Stripper. Once again there's a weird danceability to this song. If it wasn't for the fact it had been recorded in 1974 I would have thoguht AC/DC was trying to get in on the Disco raquette, but that's not the case. It's the longest track on the record at 6:23, and that's the part that tends to get me most of the time. It's one of those songs when you notice the time a bit, but you want to excuse it, because the story is told well. "Well, I met her in the garden / Underneath that old apple tree / Sitting with a handful of flowers / Looking as cool as can be / We talked away a couple of hours / Then she laid her hand on my lap / Oh, I thought I got to be dreaming / I didn't know I fell in her trap / Then she made me say things I didn't want to say / Then she made me play games I didn't want to play / She was a soul stripper, she took my heart / Soul stripper, and tore me apart / She started moving nice and easy / Slowly getting into my spine / Killing off this nice little feeling / Ooooh, everyone she could find / And when she had me hollow and naked / That's when she put me down / Pulled out a knife and flashed it before me / Stuck it in and turned it around / Then she made me say things I didn't want to say / Then she made me play games I didn't want to play / She was a soul stripper, she took my heart / Soul stripper, and tore me apart". Other than that it's a lot of guitar masterbation, which very few do as well as Angus Young, and a bunch of chants of "Soul stripper".

The album then ends with a rapid fire version of Baby, Please Don't Go. I've heard many versions of this song over the years, but none as fast as this one. It's not much faster than normal, but just enough to say that these guys know how to play fast really well. Most people go for faster and it gets sloppy, AC/DC doesn't ever suffer from that issue. In fact the song moves at such speed that you don't even notice that the song runs just shy of five minutes, and it doesn't contain three tons of Angus solo filler. Although the last half of the song is a bit filler sounding, but only in the sense that it has a lot of fills.

All in all this is a really cool and quick album, which might have something to do with it not being a real album. However, since I know this came from a ten dollar section, and normally can still be found there, I would suggest picking it up for at least the audio sampling enjoyment of it. I would also suggest getting the remastered reissue if possible, because the sound on that is so much better. Although surprisingly this album does sound pretty good without it.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

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