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35 Years Ago: AC/DC Release ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It’

Atlantic Records

By 1978, AC/DC had packed their relatively short, half-decade career with five albums and hundreds of concerts. For their strenuous efforts they deservedly attained a considerable amount of success around the world. But they still hadn’t cracked the platinum-sales mark in the U.S. That career benchmark was just around the corner, with the following year’s ‘Highway to Hell.’ But before taking that next step, the band decided the time was ripe to celebrate its first few years with a live album, the now-classic ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It.’

Since the dawn of the ’70s, and especially after the mammoth success of 1976′s ‘Frampton’s Comes Alive,’ live albums had become a convenient, and expected, stopgap between studio records. But they could also generate some serious revenue, break careers wide open (see Cheap Trick‘s ‘At Budokan’) and bring the unparalleled excitement of a concert experience to thousands of fans who, for whatever reason — geographical, financial or simply because they were too young — couldn’t make it to a show. Still, successfully transposing the high-energy and high-decibel thrills of a living, breathing performance to wax was no easy task. But AC/DC managed to elevate the live album to new heights with ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It.’

Earlier in 1978, AC/DC released the ‘Powerage’ album to great reviews, and then hit the road across Europe and North America, culminating in a home-away-from-home appearance at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow, the birthplace of the band’s Angus and Malcolm Young prior to their family’s migration to Australia.

That connection may or may not have impacted the end results, but whatever the case, AC/DC delivered an all-time blistering set, powered by such band staples as ‘Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be,’ ‘Problem Child,’ ‘High Voltage’ and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’ What’s more, extended versions of ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ and ‘Let There Be Rock’ revealed the electrifying lengths to which Angus could take his six-string improvisations on any given night, while ‘The Jack’ gave fans an entirely different set of shockingly explicit (and hilarious) lyrics.

All told, these incredible songs and the band’s breathtaking power combined to produce a stone-cold classic in ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It.’ The LP ranks consistently high in best-live-album polls, and for good reason: Other concert records may boast more songs, more Top 40 hits or even more crowd-pleasing gimmicks. But very few can challenge the sheer excitement and reckless abandon captured on AC/DC’s terrific concert document.

Next: Top 10 AC/DC Songs

Listen to AC/DC’s ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It’

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