AC/DC has never been a particularly prolific band: In the past 10 years, the only studio release has been 2000â€™s Stiff Upper Lip. Fans wait for word on a new albumâ€¦and as the years go by, they keep waiting. But there have been plenty of successful DVD releases to tide fans over: Concerts from 1991, 1996 and 2001, as well as the Family Jewels collection. At the time, with 40 promotional videos and television performances, the latter seemed like a nearly-complete collection of video material.Â
Plug Me In is an ambitious set of two (or three, depending on the collection you choose) DVDs that feature an array of live performances and interviews that youâ€™ve never seen before. If youâ€™re a casual fan, it will all be new to you. If youâ€™re a hard-core fan, there will be an amazing amount of unseen material. And if youâ€™re an obsessive collector who buys bootlegs and scours the Internet for unseen footageâ€¦thereâ€™s still stuff you havenâ€™t seen. The larger set (reviewed here) contains about seven hours of material to peruse and enjoy. One disc is dedicated to Bon Scott clips (circa 1975-79), one features Brian Johnson (1981-2003) and the third disc is almost overkill, with more performances form both singers, including nine consecutive songs from a 1983 concert in Houston.
What makes this set different form the other DVD releases is the raw quality of much of the videos. While concerts today are shot with dozens of high-tech video cameras and tons of equipment to perfect sound and video quality, many live performances on this disc offer just a few camera angles; sometimes just one. Some television clips are grainy and distorted. Some live clips in black and white. Itâ€™s a far cry from polished music videos and modern concerts. In fact, itâ€™s much, much better.
These performances finally capture the look and feel of an AC/DC concert. When you see distorted images from a 1976 high school performance in Australia, youâ€™re in the crowd when a great local band puts on a blistering show. When you see the grainy television performances, you get an idea of how powerful Scottâ€™s voice really was. Forget what the band would become in the 80s and beyond. They were something to see right then and there, and we get to be a part of it more than 30 years later.
Not all of the clips are like that, of course, but those will be the favorites of hard-core fans.Â Plenty of concert footage is crystal clear and well-shot, and youâ€™ll see many rare performances, like the 2001 extra-encore featuring â€œRide Onâ€ in France, four songs from the nearly-forgotten â€œFlick of the Switchâ€ performed live, a jam session with the Rolling Stones and rehearsal footage. Add in interviews and film intros used for concert tours and youâ€™ve got about 80 rare pieces of AC/DC history to enjoy.
The package includes memorabilia reproductions and the obligatory poster and booklet. Its value to you will depend on how much you like the band and want to see how they sounded before they were world-renowned, and want access to rare versions of the songs you know and love. In any case, nothing youâ€™ve bought previously will get in the way of enjoying this collection. Plug Me In is comprehensive and exhaustive.
The only thing itâ€™s lacking is a fourth disc with the long-awaited new album. But thereâ€™s plenty to enjoy while fans keep waiting.