How easy is it to admire AC/DC? First, “tenderness” is not in their vocab: they just might be the only working rock band ideologically opposed to ballads. Shit, even Def Leppard had “Love Bites,” and Ozzy locked slow-dance horns with Lita Ford. Second, in their post–Bon Scott years with Brian Johnson, they’ve rendered entire decades irrelevant.
It doesn’t matter whether an AC/DC track was cut in ’87 or ’08 — they all sound as if they hailed from the same Herculean recording session of some undefined year. To boot, the band’s rarities on display in this two-CD/one-DVD set sound exactly like their beloved album renditions. The Young Bros. and company are nothing if not militaristically consistent. Backtracks collects a handful of Australian bonus tracks, B-sides, and promos, like “Cyberspace.” (You know you want to hear Johnson sing about cyberspace.)
CD2’s smoking live versions are where AC/DC defend their reputation as a well-oiled machine, as oiled up as the jugtastic fembots that permeate the music’s hyper-hetero fantasia. And the band’s testicle-laden metaphorical fodder is brought to life on the DVD’s music videos, which often find them performing in some Mad Max steel cage of rock. If nothing else, I no longer have to bust out my copy of the Last Action Hero soundtrack every time I want to hear “Big Gun.”