With AC/DC concerts getting canceled this week, it reminded me that while I’ve never seen them live, I have heard them live via a 1978 album that I played to death when I was in high school. “If You Want Blood” was one of the many albums of theirs that I know very well when I play it. I recently revisited this one and it holds up so well. It’s at the top or near the top of many rock magazines and music rags list of the best live album and I am in full agreement. I do have other live albums that I place a bit higher, for personal memory reasons, but this live album is one that I know by heart even though I go years between listens.
The album cover is a bit on the graphic side, but I always viewed it as something humorous, with Angus stabbing the guitar neck into his abdomen and the appearance of blood coming out. While not pictured above, the back of the album cover shows Angus laying facedown on the stage with the guitar neck stuck all the way through him, sticking out of his back. The text “You’ve Got It” at the top before the track listing. Yeah, it’s something that drew me in, already being an AC/DC fan making it easy to purchase that LP.
Original lead singer Bon Scott had those raw vocals that worked so well in a live setting. This was AC/DC’s first live album, just 4 years into their band’s existence. How certain songs like the 8 minute “Let Their Be Rock” with Angus Young’s school boy antics, shredding the licks like he’s standing still and never missing a note. “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” is played with such vigor and depth that I know right when the guitar highs and lows kick in throughout the song. Bon’s sultry vocals on “The Jack”… “She’s Got The Jack!!!” repeated over and over. You hear these songs enough times and you can’t help but know what comes next.
The opening song “Riff Raff” is like a strong jolt of energy that you know will happen when that first strum of Angus’ hand hits the strings. For a live album based on a performance in Glasgow in mid-1978 and the type of recording equipment available at the time, this is a live album that any rock fan should listen to, if they haven’t already.
It was more than a year after being out of high school, and I was still very much a fan of Ozzy Osbourne and his 2 year old solo career, after being fired from Black Sabbath in 1979. As a need to finish his record contract with Jet Records, a live album was put together. Still reeling from the death of Randy Rhodes, Ozzy put together a band and went on tour. In September 1982, this album “Speak Of The Devil” was recorded during a NYC date of his tour.
The cover of the album was always one that sparked controversy. Ozzy’s hair is a wig after he famously shaved his head not too long before this tour. Brad Willis of Night Ranger fame came in to replace Randy and they ended up doing all Black Sabbath covers for this release. That was one of the biggest draws for me on this album. I was still very much heavy into music and bought a ton of LPs. Surprisingly, I never owned this album on LP. I bought it on cassette to make it easier to hide from my mom, who hated my choice in music. This cover, whatever the fuck Ozzy is chewing up, and its title only would increase her notion that all rock music was from Satan. I obviously wasn’t bothered by it.
The 12 songs included on this album were recorded quite well for being thrown together as the details of this live album were talked about by producer Max Norman. Brad Gillis guitar skills bring over his style that you often hear with that extra fuzz during his solos. And Ozzy had a lot of audience interaction. Like about 4 mins into the song “Fairies Wear Boots”, he asks the crowd “Is everybody high?” And the intro to the songs “Black Sabbath” and “Never Say Die” Ozzy announces them as the first and last songs he ever recorded with Black Sabbath. At the end of “War Pigs”, his vocal remembering how he got shit-faced every night at the Fillmore East and then announced the song “The Wizard”
I listened to this album a lot, enough to when I listen to it now, I know right when to expect Ozzy’s banter and what he’s going to say. That repetition stays with you for years. Like any great live album should. This album is out of print and has been for many years now, as Ozzy has disavowed it, to the point where there was only one re-release in 1995, when all of his then solo albums were remastered. You can still find this album on Amazon and other places for under $10. If you are like me and liked the Ozzy from the 80’s, then this is must have.
Any other live albums that any of you remember well enough to call great?