Booming cannons, English schoolboy uniforms, Gibson SGs, American thighs — these are the ingredients of an AC/DC concert. Recorded at various dates on the band’s 1990-’91 tour, Live captures a past-its-prime band still delivering the goods like rock’s own UPS. No metal fan can deny the King-Kong power and raw-boned energy that the group unleashes, both in the studio and onstage.
Angus Young is the Keith Richards of metal — a living, breathing guitar riff trapped in the body of a human being. Like his ubiquitous schoolboy uniform, Young’s six-string heroics haven’t changed a bit over the years. And that might be part of the problem with releasing an in-concert AC/DC record — the quintet’s recorded works already sound like live albums, minus the roar of the crowd and a few extra chewed-glass yelps from vocalist Brian Johnson. A single strained screech from Johnson is all one needs to hear — the guy can’t sing to save his life, a fact that increasingly generous sprinkles of producers’ fairy dust have attempted to hide for years. (It is kind of fun to take a shot at deciphering Johnson’s barely intelligible song introductions on Live, most of which consist of phlegmy, monosyllabic grunts.)
Part of a catalogwide reissue project, Live has been remastered and cleaned up without adding anything new, a redundancy that might’ve been resolved by adding a couple of bonus tracks or outtakes. (The five minutes of random crowd noise that opens the disc should’ve been left on the cutting-room floor without a second thought.) In fact, why not issue a performance from the early ’80s, before the band’s rhythm section bailed and Johnson’s voice took an expressway to hell? But Live is what it is — and was — meaning hardcore devotees will have a headbanger’s ball, and no one else will give a shit, which is pretty much the way it’s always been with AC/DC.