AC/DC are the ultimate rock’n’roll contradiction. Their basic riffs, street-smart lyrics and blue-collar sensibilities would easily qualify them as a true people’s band, as unpretentious as they come. On the other hand, they’re bona fide superstars. These Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame members signed a colossal contract with Epic a couple years ago, which included their prolific back catalog—that was given very fine reissue treatment, by the way—and continue to be a commercial powerhouse.
This compilation covers the band’s prime years from 1975-1990. Divided between two discs, the first containing the material from original vocalist Bon Scott’s era, the second from current frontman Brian Johnson’s tenure. The DVD is a chronological, no-frills document of the band’s dynamic career. There are no “extras” or bonus features, just straightforward, high-voltage rock’n’roll through and through. And it’s quite refreshing.
The magic of AC/DC has always been its ability to do so much with so little—its toxic combination of bombastic three-chord riffs balanced against a basic beat and chain-gang choruses was initially looked down upon by the establishment for being crude and simplistic, but has endured and endeared itself to several generations of rockers, and even punks. One might even draw parallels between the band and punk innovators the Ramones for that very reason. The DVD showcases the spirit of the band and its unique repertoire with a combination of promo videos, live clips, TV-show appearances and even a mini film.
The early material featuring Bon Scott is fascinating, candidly showcasing the mythical frontman doing what he did best: kicking ass and taking no prisoners. It’s also interesting to watch the evolution of Angus Young, from his beginnings decked out in schoolboy garb, then on to choirboy motif, chauffer, and, well, schoolboy again. The ageless guitarist remains as spirited in the later clips and as he does as a teenager in the early ones. The Brian Johnson disc shows the band at the height of their popularity, kicking off with videos from the commercially huge BACK IN BLACK album. Although the band’s material was not quite as dynamic or unique following Scott’s death, they managed to achieve further acclaim and sales, thus the production values increase with each subsequent video.
Speaking of quality, the DVD’s sound and visuals are excellent. The menus are easy to navigate and the packaging is also great—the discs come housed in a embossed digipack, with an informative booklet containing some great photos. FAMILY JEWELS is a fitting tribute to the greatest hard rock band still in existence. Highly recommended.
+ Jim Kaz