If You Want Blood You've Got It


Atlantic Records, 1978


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For the longest time, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It was the only way – aside from finding a beat-up VHS copy of Let There Be Rock – one could hear Bon Scott fronting AC/DC in concert. Even now, not including a myriad of bootlegs, there are precious few offerings that capture the Aussie rockers just before they hit superstardom.

In a sense, releasing a live effort at this stage in AC/DC’s career might have seemed pointless. They only had three U.S. albums under their belt (five if you go by Australian releases). They hadn’t really hit the big-time with any of their efforts (though that didn’t faze Peter Frampton in 1976). But this was the better of the two ideas at the time, the other being a greatest hits compilation. (For those too young to remember, the late ‘70s also saw a glut of live discs proffered onto the listening public, spurred on no doubt in part by the success of Frampton.)

If only we had known that two short years later, Scott would be dead, leaving this mostly-complete concert from Glasgow, Scotland as a remembrance of what AC/DC was like live at this stage in their career. The take-no-prisoners approach to the performances is what makes this concert special, even after all these years; they were hungry for attention, and they were going to grab your ears by the throat to make you notice. (Yes, I’m aware of what I just said.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Touring behind their Powerage album, Angus Young and company plow through ten songs – two from the most recent release – in what can only be described as an energetic performance. Young’s bluesy guitar solos are wrung from the neck of his beloved SG, all the while providing an additional layer of texture to the music over his brother Malcolm’s rhythm guitar work, Cliff Williams’s bass lines and Phil Rudd’s work on the skins.

If this disc does anything, it does two things well. First, it makes you appreciate what Scott brought to the band, and leaves us to wonder what would have become of AC/DC had he not died in 1980. (This is by no means disrespecting Brian Johnson’s contributions to the band.) Second, it makes me wish there were more live efforts to choose from featuring Scott’s vocals.

It’s not that any performance on If You Want Blood You’ve Got It is bad; it’s just that Scott sounds a little haggard during this show. Cuts like “Riff Raff” and “Bad Boy Boogie” - to my ears, at least – might have been absolutely unstoppable had Scott’s vocals been a little stronger.

While I might also pine for the full version of “Rocker,” complete with an extended guitar solo from Young, I can understand why it, along with “Dog Eat Dog,” didn’t make the final cut – namely, because this was released in the days of vinyl, when there were tighter time limitations that the media would allow, and AC/DC hadn’t quite proven themselves in the eyes of the label bosses to be worthy of a double-live album. Still, we get to hear classics like “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” and “Let There Be Rock” with Scott fronting the band, and they’re just as enjoyable today.

AC/DC was right on the precipice of making it big, and If You Want Blood You’ve Got It is still a decent snapshot of a band whose time was about to come.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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