I am warning you right from the start: this review is going to be biased. Heavily
biased. AC/DC have been my favourite band since around age 9, and even as I write this I am wearing an AC/DC t-shirt. So perhaps the final rating for this album will be boosted in a couple of half-points…
Anyway, on to the important stuff: the review. ’74 Jailbreak
is an EP comprising five tracks that were originally in AC/DC’s two Australian releases, High Voltage
, and that were left out when the two albums were merged into one and released overseas under the name High Voltage
. Oddly enough, the vault cleansing did not re-surface the cover of Chuck Berry’s School Days
, originally included in TNT
. It did, however, re-surface the cover of Little Richard’s Baby Please Don’t Go
, included here as a fifth track.
Other than that, the sound is typically early AC/DC: very bluesy but also full of crunching hard rock riffs from Angus’ Gibson SG. An attentive listen to the five tracks included here will help us draw several conclusions: that Mark Evans was a better bassist than Cliff Williams; that Bon Scott’s lyrics were much more serious and critical than Brian Johnson’s; and that, yes, in AC/DC’s case, even leftovers are good.
, for example. Sporting an incredibly catchy riff and chorus, this song quite fairly became an early hit for the band. The lyrics talk about a guy (allegedly Bon’s friend) who did murder and went to jail. He tries to break out but is killed in the process. Now I wouldn’t exactly see Brian Johnson writing this, would you? Bon had a critical edge to his lyrics that Brian sadly lacks, preferring to focus all his attention on girls and sex. Oh well, to each his own, I guess…Focusing on the track once more, I take the chance to tell you that this is the track the band usually use for Angus’ striptease (he usually does it during the drum-only part halfway through the song). As a result, live versions of this song can last up to nine minutes (vide AC/DC Live
). All in all, this is a great song, and dead easy to play as well (5/5).
‘s more socially conscious lyrics, with You Ain’t Got A Hold On Me
we’re apparently back to normal. And I stress the word «apparently». Actually, if you read into the lyrics, there are lines like «Just because I’m hooked on life/Doesn’t mean that I’m hooked on you», which can refer to substance addiction or to Bon’s well known drinking problem, which would eventually lead to his death, Or it might just be a song about a controlling chick… Either way, it’s a good song, very bluesy, without any major flaws, but a tad generic, both lyrically and musically. As a result, it does not achieve hit status, instead ranking as extremely good filler. (3,5/5) But definitely the best thing about it is that it gives way to…
, one of AC/DC’s early lost gems. This song is so good, I’m surprised it didn’t become a hit. With – once again . very insightful lyrics about the life of an up-and-coming rock band (which was what AC/DC were at the time), it has a fabulous start-stop pattern and features two awesome solos from Angus. It also has one of the best choruses in the entire AC/DC roster. All in all, then, a surprisingly forgotten song that should really have become a major hit. (5/5)
The next song, Soul Stripper
, corroborates my statement that Mark Evans is a better player than Cliff Williams. Check out how he keeps the same line going all through the song, and it’s not as easy a line as the ones Cliff plays. This is not to detract from Cliff’s ability, of course, but the fact is, Mark was better. The song itself is not very interesting (apart from the bass part). Being once again slow and very bluesy, and boasting a mildly interesting chorus, it nonetheless falls into the «filler» category. (3/5)
The fifth and final track is the aforementioned cover of Baby Please Don’t Go
, which shows why AC/DC seldom do covers. Their original material is so immensely superior, it is kind of a no-brainer. Still, this is a fair enough cover, made quicker and heavier. But I’d stick to their original material any day. (2,5/5).
All in all, then, a pretty fair little EP which is found at mid-price more often than not, and that is highly worth the buy if you0re an AC/DC fan (and even if you aren’t – after all, this was the record that introduced me to this wonderful band!) I grant it a very un-biased three and a half stars. (Biased rating : four :D )