Rare…Rarer…Rarities, huh? Indeed, this is a bootleg CD that includes rarities that most fans don’t have on an official release. The pretty comprehensive Backtracks box set, which came out later, covers most of these songs…but not all.
Most of these tracks are either single B-sides or songs that were exclusively released on the Australian versions of albums. Until Backtracks came out, those songs were very hard to find in North America. The only one I had was “Rock in Peace”, from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. I couldn’t believe my luck in scoring the Australian CD of that album.
There are, however, two songs that none of us are likely to ever own an original physical copy of. These two tracks alone make the bootleg CD purchase worth considering, since they are AC/DC’s first single from 1974, featuring original singer Dave Evans. Most fans have never heard anything with Dave Evans singing. These are ripped from an original 7″ single.
“Can I Sit Next to You Girl” is a song every AC/DC fan knows, because this golden oldie was re-recorded on T.N.T. (1975). Bon Scott’s cheeky delivery made all the difference in the world. Dave Evans is just some guy, asking to sit next to you. Bon was Bon fucking Scott asking to sit next to you…who do you think gets the girl? This early single was issued in the summer of ’74, and it has a completely different, much more laid back intro. It’s not nearly as heavy as it would later become. Evans does have a fine vibrato, I must say!
Every single has a B-side, and “Rockin’ in the Parlour” was AC/DC’s first. It’s much more “rock and roll” than you expect from AC/DC, but it’s catchy and melodic. Angus and Malcolm have yet to fully develop their styles, but you can certainly tell its them. You can hear for yourself, that Dave Evans was not the lyricist that Bon Scott was. “She said, ‘I got some booze, around at my place, so come along and have some fun!'” Sorry Dave, but that just won’t cut it when the band is AC fucking DC.
The rest of these songs are all in print today, so they can be acquired on official AC/DC releases. “Love Song” (High Voltage) shocked me on the first number of listens. Is this AC/DC’s one and only ballad? I guess so! “Oh Jean, Oh Jean!” sings Bon, seemingly heart broken. Once you get used to it, and accept the fact that there are no other AC/DC songs that sound anything like it, you might enjoy it. I know that I do, from time to time.
I’m not sure what makes “She’s Got Balls” and “Little Lover” qualify as rarities. As far as I can tell these are the album versions. Next! “Stick Around” (High Voltage) is a cool tune, a laid-back AC/DC rocker with lots of space between the instruments. You can hear the air sizzle! The riff is about as simple as it gets: two chords. But they are the right chords! “High Voltage” is slightly longer than the album version, and this is also on Backtracks.
“School Days” is a Chuck Berry cover, one of very few covers AC/DC recorded. Chuck Berry is the prototype of AC/DC anyway, so this version fits like a glove. Hail hail rock and roll, indeed! This was originally on T.N.T., but you can get it on the Bonfire box set too. The aforementioned “Rock in Peace” is a shorty, heavy with that AC/DC stomp and the same damn riff they’ve been playing for 40 years.
AC/DC have always had tongue firmly in cheek, but “Crabsody in Blue” is probably the jokiest song they ever recorded. A slow blues similar to “Ride On” deserves to have some down-and-out lyrics. Bon takes that to a descriptive extreme!
“Oh, and when they start to bite,
Then it’s time you saw the light,
For an appointment.
Before you start to scream,
That’s when you apply the cream,
Only Bon Scott can really write a lyric about venereal disease. Nobody else seems quite as qualified.
“Carry Me Home” was the heavy and instantly likeable B-side to “Dog Eat Dog” (1977). Using his speaking voice to full effect, Bon proves to me why he is one of rock’s all time greatest frontman. His animated vocal performance here is something that very few singers can pull off. (Ian Gillan is one such singer — think “No Laughing in Heaven”.) Then, “Down on the Borderline” is Brian Johnson’s only showing on this CD. This was the B-side from “Moneytalks” (The Razors Edge), but it sounds little like that album. Sonically and vocally, it resembles Blow Up Your Video, right down to the muddy finish. I have no doubt it was recorded for that album.
“Fling Thing” is AC/DC’s take on “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”, which they cheekily credited to Young/Young! It sounds like quite a party was going on during the recording, which falls apart after a mere two minutes! This was originally the B-side to “Jailbreak”. The final song is “Cold Hearted Man”, which was recently dusted off for the Iron Man 2 soundtrack album. It was on Powerage (1978) first, and a dark prowler it is.
A lot of people like to joke that all of AC/DC’s songs sound the exactly the same. This CD of also-ran’s has proven otherwise, and “Cold Hearted Man” is a perfect closer for a solid collection of rock.