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AC/DC - "AC/DC Live At River Plate" (2-CD Set)

AC/DC - "AC/DC Live At River Plate" 2-CD Set cover image

"AC/DC Live At River Plate" track listing:

CD 1
1. Rock N Roll Train
2. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be
3. Back In Black
4. Big Jack
5. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
6. Shot Down In Flames
7. Thunderstruck
8. Black Ice
9. The Jack
10. Hell's Bells

CD 2
1. Shoot To Thrill
2. War Machine
3. Dog Eat Dog
4. You Shook Me All Night Long
5. T.N.T.
6. Whole Lotta Rosie
7. Let There Be Rock
8. Highway To Hell
9. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Reviewed by on January 1, 2013

"AC/DC's 'Live At River Plate' has a setlist full of familiar hits, and the band feels more energized than in recent memory."

As Brian Johnson tells the Argentinean crowd, the members of AC/DC "speak rock 'n roll pretty good" on "Live At River Plate," a 2-CD set chronicling the show that was previously released on DVD a while back. Sure, other than the four tracks from "Black Ice" and a single song from the 1990s, the songs are all more than 30 years old — with many occupying the same place in the setlist they did for the majority of those 30 years. And sure, if you're a fan of the band, you've probably got both live and studio versions of most of these tunes. That said, when judged on its own merits, "Live At River Plate" is, for the most part, a genuinely kick-ass live album.

Much of the credit for that has to go to drummer Phil Rudd, whose looser style was sorely missed on "AC/DC Live," which had a much more robotic feeling, rhythmically speaking. Tracks like "Whole Lotta Rosie" and "The Jack" have a nice bluesy swagger as a result.

Then there's Brian Johnson's vocals, which are much improved from that earlier live disc, despite the two intervening decades. He's still screaming his lungs out, but there's almost a soul-singer vibe sometimes, particularly when delivering the blues-soaked intro to "The Jack," punctuated by Angus Young's devilish soloing.

As for Angus, he's still got the goods, guitar-wise, as does brother Malcolm, whose rhythm playing is unfortunately slightly buried in the mix.

The four tracks from 2008 definitely measure up to their older counterparts, with "Black Ice" being especially improved from the album version. On the other hand, the Bon Scott-era "Dog Eat Dog" is the album's sole throwaway. Unlike "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be" or "Shot Down In Flames," which Johnson makes his own, "Dog Eat Dog" feels pretty by-rote.

And then there's the feeling like you've slid into autopilot by the end of the album, with "Whole Lotta Rosie" followed by "Let There Be Rock," followed by the encore of "Highway To Hell" and "For Those About To Rock." On one hand, it's comfortable — and I have the feeling that if you were there for the show, it's the chunk that you're waiting for. But listening at home, it feels a little too predictable.

AC/DC's "Live At River Plate" has a setlist full of familiar hits, and the band feels more energized than in recent memory. It's a shame that the slightly looser feel didn't extend to varying up the tracklist a little bit — but the band still speaks rock n' roll better than anyone else out there.

Highs: Plenty of great songs to choose from, with the "Black Ice" tracks measuring up to older classics.

Lows: The worn-out "Dog Eat Dog."

Bottom line: You've heard most of it before, but the band still puts on one helluva show.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)