AC/DC - If You Want Blood You've Got It (1978) - Album Review

By Sergio Ariza

I'm a rocker! 

By 1978 the big rock bands had moved a long way away from the excitement of the original rock & roll, from what some called the "Chuck Berry Fields Forever", and were more concerned with creating epics and long instrumental passages that had little to do with the wild energy of their essence. In the USA and England, punk bands had emerged to remind us of this, but AC/DC didn't need reminding, the Australians were a kind of ‘Chuck Berry with punk energy’ played at maximum volume, with Bon Scott's rasping voice, Malcolm Young's riffs and Angus's guitar whips as their hallmarks.

In that year, with five studio albums behind them, they began to talk about the possibility of releasing a greatest hits album, but the project was changed to a live album. It was the right decision, the Young brothers' band was a perfectly oiled rock & roll machine and their live shows were among the most powerful of all time. The city chosen to record the album could not have been more significant, Glasgow, the capital of Scotland - the homeland of both the Young brothers and Scott. The end of the concert could not have been more mythical, with the whole band dressed in the colours of the Scottish football team that had just qualified for that year's World Cup.  

The thing is that these kinds of albums were very typical in the 70s and it was normal for them to become double albums with long versions with endless instrumental passages, including drum solos that nobody had asked for... There is none of that here, just pure rock & roll energy and a band determined that the grass won't grow back after their time on stage, as if they were the hard rock version of Attila. Only 10 songs and in versions in which they go for the throat.


The album is a sort of mini greatest hits up to that time, although we must not forget that they were about to enter the best period of their career - their next two albums would be the most remembered: Highway To Hell and Back In Black (the latter already without Bon Scott), covering some of the songs from T.N.T., Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock and Powerage (the latter released that same year).

From the moment the spine-tingling riff of Riff Raff kicks in, there's no stopping them, even when they get into blues territory with The Jack, they sound sharp and dangerous, with Angus' SG sparking in his solo. The first side closes with the riff of Problem Child, on which the band's two best known songs, Highway To Hell and Back In Black, will be built, with Scott's throat on fire on this song over his young guitarist, an Angus who at the time was just 23 years old.


Of course, it is on the second side that we find some of his most memorable songs, starting with the legendary Whole Lotta Rosie, in which his riff mixes with the audience's cries of "Angus!” Then comes Rock 'n' Roll Damnation, the best song of Powerage, with one of his most unstoppable choruses that gives way to that marvel called High Voltage, one of his many tributes to Chuck Berry, in which Angus shines again with a great solo. Let There Be Rock followed, with which Reverend Scott evangelised to the masses what rock & roll is all about. Finally, the frenzy arrived with the wild Rocker "I'm a rocker, I'm a roller, I'm a rocker, I'm a roller, rocker, roller, I'm a rockin' rollin', rockin rollin' man, hey". If Bon Scott was a rock & roll poet, that's it, full stop.

The band would go on to record two more live albums over the years, two albums that are not bad by any means - AC/DC have never sounded bad live -, but they don't reach the level of excitement achieved on that 30th April at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow, something that even the problem child himself, Angus Young, would admit, "personally, I still prefer the old live set. We were young, fresh, vital and kicking ass". Amen.