I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Various Artists - The Many Faces Of AC/DC
Music Brokers (Argentina), 2012
Disc 1 - AC/DC's Music Celebration (12 tracks)
Disc 2 - Brian Johnson & Geordie: The Singles Sides A & B (14 tracks)
Disc 3 - Bon Scott: The Early Years & Roots (14 tracks)
On a recent shopping trip to Wal-Mart, I took a chance on several volumes from the Many Faces... series of bargain priced 3-CD tribute album compilations, released by the mysterious "Music Brokers" label out of Argentina. These triple-disc tributes, which are cobbled together from previously released, out-of-print material from a variety of sources, truly define the term "mixed bag."
I've already reviewed the Many Faces... volumes devoted to Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest on this site (see below), and now it's time for the Many Faces tribute to one of my favorite bands of all time: The Thunder From Down Under, AC/DC.
Consisting of one disc of AC/DC's greatest hits covered by an all star lineup of hair metal's finest and two from-the-vaults collections featuring vocalists Brian Johnson and Bon Scott's pre-AC/DC recordings, The Many Faces Of AC/DC was the most enjoyable and cohesive volume I've heard from this series so far. I've been a fan of Angus and the boys for going on forty years, yet this set managed to unearth some long lost nuggets that I had never heard!
Disc 1 - "AC/DC's Music Celebration"
Casual AC/DC fans will probably get the most mileage out of Disc 1, a collection of AC/DC classics performed by a who's who of the '80s hard rock and metal scene. Some of the names paying homage here include Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow ("Back in Black"), Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead ("It's A Long Way To The Top"), Quiet Riot ("Highway to Hell"), Stephen Pearcy of Ratt ("Whole Lotta Rosie"), Dee Snider ("Walk All Over You") backed by members of L.A. Guns, Anthrax, KISS, Great White, and more.
The bulk of these covers are re-purposed from an early 2000's tribute album called Thunderbolt: A Tribute to AC/DC (which I've owned for a number of years), but a few (Jetboy's "You Shook Me All Night Long," the Vibrators' punk-fueled take on "Rocker," and the Genitorturers' electro-metal version of "Squealer") were new to me. Overall, the covers are performed well and this disc is a satisfying listen that gets this collection off to a good start.
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Disc 2: "Brian Johnson & Geordie: The Singles Sides A & B"
Before he joined AC/DC in 1980, Brian Johnson sang for the British glam-rock band Geordie, who released four studio albums and numerous singles between 1972 and '78. The 14 tracks on disc 2 were apparently culled from a much more comprehensive collection called A Band From Geordieland, released by Repertoire Records in 1996. I was especially interested in checking these songs out, because even though I've read and heard much about Geordie over the years, I don't believe I'd ever actually heard any of their music till I popped this disc into the player.
Kicking off with the twangy, bouncy "Don't Do That" from 1972, it's hard to believe that it's really Brian Johnson crooning away on the mic, because he sounds nothing like his later self. Wow, this guy can actually sing when he's not screaming his ass off! Who knew?
Many of these songs reminded me of '70s rockers Slade or Sweet (see: "All Because of You,""All Right Now," and "Geordie Stomp," to name just a few) while the harder rockin' "She's A Teaser" sounded like early KISS. On "Ride On Baby," you can hear some of the snarl that Brian would later use in AC/DC creeping into his vocal delivery, and the collection comes to a satisfactory close with the groovy "She's A Lady." I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the Geordie tracks, and I am definitely going to seek out more of their material in the future.
Disc 3: "Bon Scott: The Early Years & Roots"
The Geordie disc was a cool retro listen, but Disc 3's collection of Bon Scott's pre-AC/DC recordings is an even more shag-a-delic trip into the Way-Bac Machine, showcasing Bon's bluesy vocals on "Round And Round And Round" and "Carey Gulley" (from an obscure single by the mostly-forgotten country-rock outfit, Mount Lofty Rangers) alongside a fistful of tracks from his late '60s stint with the Aussie pop/rock outfit The Valentines, a band of British Invasion wanna-be's who skillfully copped the sounds of the Beatles, the Stones, and early Who. It's strange to hear Bon's distinctive voice singing poppy, lightweight stuff like "Every Day You Have To Cry" and "Sookie Sookie" after so many years of listening to his raunchier AC/DC material, but some of these songs are quite catchy, even the ones Bon doesn't sing (he split lead vocal duties in the Valentines with Vince Lovegrove) like "I Can Hear The Raindrops" and the very Beatle-ish "Love Makes Sweet Music."
Bon's strongest vocal turn here is probably the trippy, brassy "Peculiar Hole in the Sky" from 1968, which in an odd coincidence was written by George Young - older brother of AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young - for his band The Easybeats (who didn't release their own version till '69). The only real dud is Bon's painfully schmaltzy cover of the '50s Phil Spector chestnut "To Know Him Is To Love Him" (re-named "To Know You Is To Love You").
The end of the third disc is padded out by three random tracks by Muddy Waters ("Mannish Boy"), Jimmy Page & Eric Clapton (a jam of "Tribute to Elmore") and Jeff Beck's All-Stars ("Steelin'"). I guess these are the "Roots" tracks that are supposed to represent the electric blues that inspired AC/DC, but they seem out of place jammed at the end of Bon's hippie-dippy Valentines material and have very little connection, if any, to the Thunder From Down Under. Couldn't Music Brokers have found a couple of cheap Chuck Berry songs to license?
The Valentines portion of this disc could've used a few more songs with Bon at the mic, but I found them fascinating from a historical perspective, and they prove the old adage that everyone's gotta start someplace.
Summing It Up
The Many Faces Of AC/DC is the strongest volume in this series that I've heard so far, and was well worth the ultra-cheap price. Diehard AC/DC fans will want to check it out for the hard to find Brian and Bon tracks, and the covers disc makes for a nice chaser.
© 2022 Keith Abt