Planners: listen up. AC/DC has just released Plug Me In, a dual-disc DVD set. Trust me: the set will make a rocking’ holiday gift for many a music lover on your list. Originally released on October 16, 2007 via Columbia, the set is a live retrospective of the band’s career through 2003. Not surprising, the total runtime of both DVDs is nearly five hours.
Disc one is a retrospective of the Bon Scott era. Not surprising, the DVD set begins with Australian performances, as the band members play to their native land. Included are performances on Bandstand and St. Albans High School. AC/DC performed “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n’ Roll)” on the Bandstand program, and it looks very trippy. While Americans were wasting hard earned dollars on disco albums, the Aussies were rocking with would-be icons of Metal. Plus, Bon Scott plays bagpipes during the performance while wearing a Superman shirt. That’s a lot of entertainment for your DVD dollars! I’m pretty jealous of St. Albans High School (Australia) Class of 1976. My high school never invited rock stars to play in the gymnasium. Hell, we didn’t even have a band for prom!
Disc one also includes the band’s first live U.K. television performance. At the beginning of the piece is a T.V. slate, and an actual vintage countdown clock that denotes changing segments. Being a television producer, this little bit of history was interesting to me but probably not thrilling to many other people. Incidentally, AC/DC perform “Live Wire” after the clock hits zero. Moving on through the early AC/DC years, the boys share performances in London, Glasgow, and Arnhem, Holland. The quality of some of the really old clips is amazing. Yes, the camera operators in Holland needed to white balance for the continually changing stage lights, but the integrity of the performance remains more than 25 years after the fact.
After the music, there are several “special features” including many interviews, a bizarre little promotional spot, and performance on Top of the Pops.
Disc two is a retrospective of the Brian Johnson era and features classic performances and rare interviews. Just like disc one, each concert is separated by a title slate for easy viewing and shuffling. The best part of disc two is the concert footage formed at Tushino Airfield in Moscow. AC/DC played the massive show right after the August 1991 coup, and this is referenced by interviews included on the DVD package. Band members note the importance of rock music and the potential to bring a divided nation together. Judging by the size of the crowd, I’d say AC/DC succeeded in their goal (for at least one night).
Moving through the Brian Johnson era, there are performances from Tokyo, Detroit, Sydney, and Paris. The Tokyo footage isn’t the best quality, even with digital restoration, so consider yourself warned.
Watching both DVDs is like watching time pass before my eyes. How is it possible that Brian Johnson doesn’t seem to age? He looks exactly the same in 2003 footage as he does in the 1983 video clips. Perhaps it’s the same hat and black T-shirt?
The final song of the concert portion of disc two is naturally “You Shook Me All Night Long,” recorded in Toronto (2003). The size of the crowd is humbling, and most concert-goers seem to be under the age of 30. I think this probably says something about the quality of modern music versus real classic rock.
There is also bonus material in addition to the hours of live performances on disc two. Some of these “special features” include the Beavis and Butt-Head Ballbreaker tour intro film. As expected, the film is entirely worthless and thankfully short. Much better is an interview segment recorded for The Old Grey Whistle Test. Angus Young talks about performing at Castle Donnington and possible “Metal battle” between AC/DC and Van Halen. Young calls Van Halen and pop band…and BBC producers brilliantly splice a clip of Diamond David Lee Roth into the interview. Classic.
In addition to the great, semi-rare footage are two little booklets. One contains song and band information, the other photos and tour logos of years past. The books add a lot making Plug Me In one very desirable collection.