Sunday, 16 April 2017

"'74 Jailbreak" by AC/DC (2003 Epic/Albert Productions 'ConnecteD Technology' Digipak CD - George Marino Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...A Bullet In His Back..."

In truth the 5-track mini LP "'74 Jailbreak" released October 1984 in the USA on Atlantic Records should more accurately be called "Australian AC/DC 1975 and 1976" because that’s what you’re actually getting.

This Bon Scott era compilation was sandwiched between 1983’s "Flick Of The Switch" and 1984’s "Fly On The Wall" to satiate the hunger by fans for more of the biggest (and loudest) Rock band in the world - AC/DC – fronted of course at that time by Brian Johnson who'd come on board for 1981's groundbreaking "Back In Black" album.

But don't be under any illusion just because it has only five 'old' songs – one of which is a Big Joe Williams R&B cover – don't think that this is isn't primo stuff. With Scott's crushing loss still in living memory - to me at the time "'74 Jailbreak" was kind of a magical little number – a timely reminder as to why I fell in love with the Australian Hard Rock band in the first place. Let's get to the CD details first before we go into the song origins..

UK released May 2003 - "'74 Jailbreak" by AC/DC on Epic/Albert Productions 510758 2 (Barcode 5099751075820) is a 5-Track CD reissue and new remaster of the 1984 US compilation LP and plays out as follows (24:23 minutes):

1. Jailbreak
2. You Ain't Got A Hold On Me
3. Show Business
4. Soul Stripper
5. Baby, Please Don't Go
Tracks 1 to 5 are the album "'74 Jailbreak" – released 19 October 1984 in the USA on Atlantic A1-80178. It was first issued in the UK and Europe on CD in 1990.

Some explanation about the song make-up of this compilation... When the first two AC/DC albums were released on Albert Productions in Australia - "High Voltage" in February 1975 (Albert Productions APLP.009) and "T.N.T." in December 1975 (Albert Productions APLPA.016) – they had radically different track lists to their UK, USA and International issues (and different artwork too). Four of the five tracks from "'74 Jailbreak" come from the Ozzy incarnation of the "High Voltage" album - "You Ain't Got A Hold On Me", "Baby, Please Don't Go", "Soul Stripper" and "Show Business". The fifth track "Jailbreak" and its B-side "Fling Thing" were recorded in Australia in January 1976 and released as a stand-alone 7" single in 1976 in various territories.

If you want to sequence the first two Australian LPs and both sides of the stand-alone "Jailbreak" single - you’ll actually need three of these 2003 CD reissues - "'74 Jailbreak", "High Voltage" and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and two Box Sets - "Bonfire" from 2003 and "Backtracks" from 2009...

Their 8-track Oz original of "High Voltage" looked like this...
Side 1:
1. Baby Please Don't Go (on "'74 Jailbreak" 2003 CD)
2. She's Got Balls (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
3. Little Lover (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
4. Stick Around (on "Backtracks" 2009 Box Set)
Side 2:
1. Soul Stripper (on "'74 Jailbreak" 2003 CD)
2. You Ain't Got A Hold On Me (on "'74 Jailbreak" 2003 CD)
3. Love Song (on "Backtracks" 2009 Box Set)
4. Show Business (on "'74 Jailbreak" 2003 CD)

While the 9-track original of "T.N.T." looked like this...
Side 1:
1. It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) (on "Backtracks" 2009 Box Set)
2. The Rock 'n' Roll Singer (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
3. The Jack (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
4. Live Wire (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
Side 2:
1. T.N.T. (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
2. Rocker (on "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" 2003 CD)
3. Can I Sit Next To You Girl (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
4. High Voltage (on "High Voltage" 2003 CD)
5. School Days (on "Backtracks" 2009 Box Set)

"Jailbreak" b/w "Fling Thing"
June 1976 Australian 7" Single on Albert Productions AP-11135 in label bag
August 1976 UK 7" single on Atlantic K 10805 in label bag
March 1980 UK reissued 7" single on Atlantic K 10805 in picture sleeve
A-side on "'74 Jailbreak" 2003 CD – B-side on "Backtracks" 2009 Box Set

AC/DC was:
BON SCOTT – Vocals
ANGUS YOUNG – Lead Guitar
MALCOLM YOUNG – Rhythm Guitar
MARK EVANS - Bass
PHIL RUDD – Drums

So what do you get here? This Epic CD 5-track reissue has what they call 'ConnecteD Technology' which allows you to access online content via your computer but I'm buggered if I've ever bothered. The card digipak is the same for all of these reissues - very tasty and tactile. There’s a picture CD to the right (the cover art of Angus) and a 12-page booklet housed on the left in a pocket pouch. The booklet It's crammed full of period colour photos - a stunner of the boys up beside a derelict house wall and a gatefold spread of Angus in full schoolboy glory holding a pint of milk! They miss a trick by repeating the US picture sleeve of "Jailbreak" with "Soul Stripper" on its B-side twice when they could have used the UK sleeve -
 or even the rare UK original label. There are other great unpublished live shots too of Bon and Angus. MURRAY ENGLEHEART provides the informative and and enthusiastic liner notes. There is another photo of the band in full denims and teeshirt mode (Angus with his velvet suit and 'A' hat) on the inner gatefold and a solo shot of Bon looking suitable leery beneath the see-through CD tray (great fun the lot of it). The GEORGE MARINO Remaster (done in the USA) is from 'original master tapes' and sounds HUGE - fuller than the 1990 remaster I've had for years. Despite their age - tracks like "Soul Stripper" and "Jailbreak" have lost none of their Rock 'n' Roll power.

I’m always amazed that the truly barnstorming "Jailbreak" (a Young, Young and Scott composition) never did the business as a single in the UK – a country that adores it hooky Rock Classics. Admittedly I can't actually remember seeing the first 1976 pressing of Atlantic K 10805 in its distinctive orange and yellow label – I bought the 1980 picture sleeve reissue with Angus dashing across some stage somewhere semi-naked and sweating like a politician at a tax audit. You could argue that they should have stuck the B-side "Fling Thing” on this compilation – but it’s a Scottish Traditional air instrumental of two minutes that is probably the most throwaway track in their entire cannon – so no real loss there (you take the low road and I'll be in Scotland before you have to hear this). The remaster brings out that fantastic riffage though of "Jailbreak" – the rakish Bon singing the praises of a non-PC mate of his whose doing 16-years in Hell for murder - breaking rocks on the chain gang. He makes it out all right - but with a treacherous bullet in his back (an ideal dinner guest I'm thinking). 

After the sheer pulse-increasing blinder of "Jailbreak" - the ever-so slightly weedy "You Ain't Got A Hold On You" comes as a minor disappointment. But that's immediately wiped away by the Thin Lizzy-sounding rocker "Show Business" - a raucous tirade at robbers in their chosen profession. It's typically leery, fun and Rock 'n' Rolls like a goodun. "Soul Stripper" has a very "High Voltage" vibe in its similar riff - great back beat as Bon regales his tale of a lady tingling his spine who then produces a knife and makes him say things he didn't want to say (oh yeah Bon). They miscredited the Big Joe Williams classic "Baby, Please Don't Go" to Big Bill Broonzy on first pressings of their Australian debut album "High Voltage" - but that doesn't stop this being another rocking fave of mine - the band sounding like Budgie who also covered this slide tune on their 1973 album "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend" (Metallica would return the cover favour years later too). I love that Bon/Angus guitar/voice battle that romps the R&B dancer home.   

"'74 Jailbreak" is short I know and not all undiluted AC/DC riffing genius - but for me it was so sweet to hear Bon again - letting rip with that sense of humour of his and the best rock band on the planet backing him up.

It was a long to the top if you wanted to Rock 'n' Roll - but man their climb was filled with magnificence. Break some rocks with the original chain gang folks and bring this saucy little bust-out into your home...

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