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If You Want Blood

The image on the album cover says it all.

Angus Young, innocence stitched into the very fabric of his standard-issue schoolboy’s suit, stands impaled by the depraved spear of rock and roll.  Behind him, tattooed singer Bon Scott welcomes the diminutive guitarist over to the dark side, clearly aware from personal experience that it ain’t such a bad place to be.

In a sense, the AC/DC sound itself is a product of the pure and the perverse, and If You Want Blood You’ve Got It drops you right in the middle of a live, in-the-flesh celebration of that unholy union.  The album abounds with wicked, first-hand accounts of riff raff and problem children, bad boy rockers and VD-infested groupies, for the most part shouted over three simple chords played loud, proud and with joyous abandon.  The blood spewing from Angus’ stomach in the cover photo may have been fake, but make no mistake about it: blood and guts were exactly what he and the rest of the boys – guitarist and older brother Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams, drummer Phil Rudd, and the irrepressible Scott – left on the stage every single night.

So it wasn’t at all surprising when, in 1978, AC/DC’s American label asked them to record a live album.  The idea also made sound business sense, for while the quintet were practically superstars at home in Australia, they were finding it harder to gain a foothold in Europe and America, where the heavy boogie stomp of albums like High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Let There Be Rock could hardly be heard over the din created by arena rock on the one hand and the burgeoning punk scene on the other.  A live album – particularly in the late Seventies, at the height of that format’s popularity – would be the perfect way, everyone hoped, to present AC/DC doing what they did best.

It was also what the band had been doing practically nonstop for the previous two years, attacking first Europe and then America with a seemingly endless barrage of incendiary live shows.  Small, sweaty, and increasingly jam-packed club gigs took on the air of revival meetings, where throngs of rabid converts parted like the Red Sea as Angus, hoisted high on the sturdy shoulders of a shirtless Bon, was paraded around the room like a rock and roll deity.  AC/DC’s impact on audiences was such that when serving as the support act at larger venues, they routinely upstaged the far more established headliners.  By the end of the band’s two-year tour of duty, they had laid waste to more than 200 concert stages on both sides of the Atlantic.

The idea behind If You Want Blood You’ve Got It was to recreate the manic-euphoric atmosphere of an AC/DC gig in every bedroom in every town the world over.

Even now, 25 years after the album’s initial release, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It puts you front and center at the concert – you can just smell the air heavy with sweat and anticipation, and feel the floor shake beneath your feet as Angus’ Gibson SG sputters out the opening strains of “Riff Raff” over the audience’s increasingly rowdy unison handclaps.  Just as things sound like they’re about to boil over, Phil Rudd taps out a three-count on his high hat and the band slams into the tune’s amped-up Fifties-style boogie rhythm.  By the end of the first refrain, Bon’s voice is already raw with hysteria.  But AC/DC are just getting started.

“Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be,” “Bad Boy Boogie” and “Problem Child” are all delivered with a sense of purpose so severe that they sound even tighter than the original studio versions.  An early high point of the set is the slow-burning “The Jack,” whose standard I-IV-V chord progression provides Angus, his blues influences worn firmly on his sleeve, ample opportunity to let loose an arsenal of incredibly fluid and melodic pentatonic licks.  This live rendition of Bon’s ode to venereal diseases and the women who spread them has over the years eclipsed the original in popularity, thanks in no small part to his inclusion of such extra raunchy lyrics as “I made her cry/ I made her scream/ When I curdled her cream.”  Halfway through the song the guitars pull back to expose the minimalist thump of Rudd’s backbeat and Williams’ bass, over which the crowd repeatedly chants the refrain, “She’s got the jack.”  As Angus launches into another extended lead break, Bon parries, “Ah, but she sure was good.”

AC/DC’s audiences have always been made to feel a part of the show, but the crowd on this particular evening practically erases the line between performer and spectator.  Moments before the band launches into “Whole Lotta Rosie,” the audience begins a ragged, impromptu chant of “Angus! Angus!”  As the song’s first riffs waft from the stage, the crowd falls into rhythmic step with the band, engaging in an exhilarating call-and-response session.  As a testament to the widespread influence of If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, this band/audience interplay has since become ritualized to the extent that, to this day, it remains a part of every performance of “Rosie.”  After hip-shaking run-throughs of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation” and “High Voltage” the concert climaxes with eight and a half minutes of the history-according-to-Bon that is “Let There Be Rock,” before concluding with an overheated, gloriously chaotic romp through the Dirty Deeds classic, “Rocker.”

If You Want Blood You’ve Got It captures AC/DC in full transition – no longer just a brash Aussie pub band, not quite a rock and roll powerhouse.  The charming provinciality is still apparent, but so are the first-rate musicianship and confidence necessary to dominate a large, rowdy audience.

More importantly, the album set AC/DC on the road to legitimate stardom.  The next year, rather than returning, as always, to Albert Studios in Sydney to work under the watchful eye of Vanda and Young, the band headed to London with renowned producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange to record the album that became their American breakthrough, Highway To Hell.  Tragically, this would be the last AC/DC release to feature Bon Scott, who on February 19, 1980, was found dead in the back seat of a car – after a night out drinking.  The band’s tribute to Bon, Back In Black, recorded with new singer Brian Johnson, would go on to sell over 19 million copies in the U.S. alone.

But that was all in the future.  Nobody present at the concert that spring night in 1978 could have predicted the stunning highs and devastating lows that lay just over the horizon.  If You Want Blood You’ve Got It is the sound of AC/DC and their fans living in the moment, and reveling in the sheer power and glory of high voltage rock and roll.

– Richard Bienstock












All songs written by A. Young, M. Young & B. Scott
All titles published by J. Albert & Son (USA) Inc. (ASCAP)


Produced by Vanda & Young

All tracks recorded live during 1978 World Tour

Mixed at Albert Studios, Sydney, Australia

An Albert Production for Albert International Music

Originally Released as Atlantic 19212 on November 21, 1978

“The Jack” © 1975 J. Albert & Son Pty. Ltd. “Bad Boy Boogie,” “Whole Lotta Rosie” & “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” © 1977 J. Albert & Son Pty. Ltd. Lyrics reprinted by kind permission of the publisher. Unauthorized copying is forbidden. To reproduce please contact copyright@albertmusic.com

Digitally Remastered from the original master tapes by George Marino at Sterling Sound

Mastering Supervision: Mike Fraser and Al Quaglieri

Digital Assembly: UE Nastasi

Original LP Photography: Jim Houghton

Original LP Art Direction: Bob Defrin

Reissue Booklet Design: SMAY Vision

Photography: digipak front & back cover: Jim Houghton (from original LP);
pg. 11: Dalle/Veuige;
all other photos: © Claude Gassian

Additional artifacts courtesy Albert Productions and Arnaud Durieux.

This CD takes advantage of ConnecteD technology and will work as a key to unlock exclusive bonus music, videos, photos and more at www.acdcrocks.com





© 1978, 2003 J. Albert & Son (Pty.) Ltd./ (P) 1978 J. Albert & Son (Pty.) Ltd./ Manufactured by Columbia Records, A Division of Sony Music/ 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211/ “Columbia” Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. Marca Registrada/ WARNING: All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.


This package consists of previously released material.
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