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REVIEW: AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip (Bonus CD)

AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip (Bonus CD edition, 2000 Warner)

So much music, so little time! I reviewed the AC/DC album Stiff Upper Lip months and months ago. Previously, I only owned the single disc version of Stiff Upper Lip. I knew of the 2 CD Australian version, but I didn’t own it.  I thought and assumed all those bonus tracks were included on the massive AC/DC Backtracks box set. It has pretty much everything else.  However I was wrong, and I promptly bought a copy of the 2 CD version from Discogs, with plans to review it shortly after I reviewed Stiff Upper Lip itself.  That was in July.  Like I said, so much music, so little time!

Backtracks is missing two songs from the bonus CD: “Back In Black”, live from Madrid, is exclusive to this set. So is the 11 minute “Let There Be Rock”. (Meanwhile, Backtracks had plenty more songs from the Madrid show that are not on this bonus CD. Those songs are “Dog Eat Dog”, “Hail Caesar”, and “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

Confusing, huh? That’s why I’m here. To help the fans and collectors out there.

The Stiff Upper Lip bonus CD has a mix of live tracks, videos, and one rare studio recording:

      1. “Cyberspace” (Non LP Track)
      2. “Back in Black (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996)”
      3. “Hard as a Rock (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996)”
      4. “Ballbreaker (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996)”
      5. “Whole Lotta Rosie (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996)”
      6. “Let There Be Rock (Live – Plaza De Toros, Madrid, 1996)”
      7. “Stiff Upper Lip” (Music video)
      8. “Safe in New York City” (Music video)
      9. “Satellite Blues” (Music video)

I don’t care so much about music videos on a CD. Since the early 2000’s, bands tend to include a bonus DVD with their albums instead of videos on an enhanced CD. Plus we have Youtube now, most music videos are available online 24/7 on demand.

Skipping the videos, the most interesting track here is “Cyberspace” which was also a B-side to the “Safe in New York City” single. I hate songs about the internet (see: “Virtuality” by Rush) but thankfully “Cyberspace” kicks real ass. Sonically it’s the same as the rest of Stiff Upper Lip: hard, loud, stripped back. It’s also fast and memorable, making it one of the most interesting Stiff Upper Lip songs. Highly recommended to fans of this album.

Then you get the five live songs, originally from the 1996 concert in Madrid that was released on DVD as No Bull. I always prefer an audio format to a video one. I’ll tell you that the “new” songs from Ballbreaker were awesome live! In particular the title track, but “Hard as a Rock” is relentless and classic sounding. Meanwhile you can’t say anything bad about “Back in Black” or “Rosie”. You could argue that you didn’t need more live versions; I’d argue just to not buy this CD.

Finally “Let There Be Rock” is present in full-on extended live version. Angus wails away like a man possessed, a man in a trance, a man at one with the rock! With the rest of AC/DC behind him, you couldn’t ask for a more solid backing band, which makes the whole thing work.

As a companion piece to the whole Stiff Upper Lip album, I give the bonus CD:

4/5 stars

More AC/DC at mikeladano.com:

Live at River Plate (German import, 3 bonus tracks) – Backtracks (3 CD/2 DVD guitar amp box set) – Bonfire (5 CD box set)- Stiff Upper Lip

REVIEW: AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip (2000)

Part 1 of a 2-part series on this album.  Part 2 will come when I acquire the version with the bonus live disc!

AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip (2000 Warner)

One doesn’t so much review an AC/DC album as just tell the listener what the songs are called.  Stiff Upper Lip is a bit of an exception to that rule for me, as it seemed to be a really solid return to an early-1970’s form.  Just listen to the irresistible “Hold Me Back”.  Can’t you imagine Bon singing this one?

STIFF UPPER LIP_0004My first AC/DC album was Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap.  I grew up listening to Bon, and Stiff Upper Lip is the most rock n’ roll sounding AC/DC album since his death.  It seems they dropped some (but certainly not all) of the heavy riffing, leaving room for Malcolm and Angus to weave together some tasty guitar lines into song.  Phil Rudd’s simple metronomic rhythms are perfectly suited to this approach.

When they do get their riff on, it’s on tracks like the relentless “Safe in New York City”.   Yet I keep coming back to the laid back picking style of tunes like “Can’t Stand Still”.  It doesn’t get much simpler nor satisfying.

The album was produced by Harry Vanda and George Young, much like the classic of old.  They captured great performances, clear and uncluttered. Not every song here is a winner, most Johnson-era albums have filler.  Stiff Upper Lip‘s filler ratio is remarkably low.

A European/Australian exclusive “tour edition” contained a bonus CD with an unreleased track (“Cyberspace”) and five live tracks.  Most of this material is also available on the massive Backtracks box set.  But we’ll talk about that bonus disc another time…

4/5 stars

When I need to hear some more recent AC/DC, 9 times out of 10, I reach for Stiff Upper Lip.