Forgive my nerdiness for this review, but I dislike ’74 Jailbreak‘s existence for a nerdy reason. It is part of what makes collecting early AC/DC tunes more difficult than it should be. *pushes up glasses*
The confusion begins with its title. It is incorrect. The song ‘Jailbreak‘ wasn’t released or recorded in 1974. It was part of the original Aussie version of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap recorded in 1976. With the rest of the EP’s tunes recorded in 1974 for the Aussie version of High Voltage, a more accurate title would be:
Meaning there are some songs on here from 1974 and ‘Jailbreak’. But ‘Jailbreak’ is first on the track list. So an even more accurate title would be:
Just to be clear though, this EP wasn’t released in 1974. It was released in 1984. So I think a more accurate title would be:
Jailbreak, ’74, in ’84
Ah, but the cover photo is of Angus from no sooner than ’83. I can tell because his Gibson SG here is set up with a vibrato bridge and a “zebra” pickup in the neck position. This is a guitar he used almost exclusively during the Flick of The Switch tour. See the following video (or just look at the thumbnail) and compare it with the the album cover:
So really, the title should be:
Jailbreak, ’74, with a photo of Angus from no sooner than ’83, in ’84
OK, I’m taking the piss but I have to ask why does this bewildering EP exist? Well, its premise is innocent enough.
With AC/DC’s Flick of The Switch released ’83, ’74 Jailbreak was designed to cover a gap before the band’s next album Fly On The Wall in ’85. Ideally, what their label Atlantic should have done at this point is retire all international versions of AC/DC’s albums and made the Australian ones world-wide. Maybe hold off on Dirty Deeds for a bit since its international release in North America just happened in ’81, but Aussie High Voltage and T.N.T would have been fair game. And at least the mess would have begun to clean itself up 35 years ago.
But if we couldn’t have that, well… I suppose putting out some previously unreleased “rarities” isn’t the worst idea. And it does makes sense to feature the song ‘Jailbreak’. Not only is it a solid rocker, it already had a video made in ’76 for Australian telly. So, that would get them something for the MTV on the cheap.
But I can’t understand why they settled on an EP that only used 5 tracks:
- You Ain’t Got A Hold On Me
- Show Business
- Soul Stripper
- Baby, Please Don’t Go
…since they left 4 more still in Aussie limbo:
- Stick Around – Aussie High Voltage
- Love Song – Aussie High Voltage
- School Days – T.N.T.
- R.I.P. (Rock In Peace) – Aussie Dirty Deeds
Heck, add ‘Cold Hearted Man’, a track stuck in European limbo and we have a fairly solid album here. By 1984 AC/DC were world-renowned so there was no excuse to hold back.
Anyway, I’ll eventually get reviewing the Aussie albums and I’ll go into more detail about the music then. For now, I’ll just say the tunes picked for ’74 Jailbreak are a mixed bag of awesome and some forgivable “early band awkwardness”. ‘Jailbreak‘ and the cover of Big Bill Broozy’s ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ are solid tunes. The others are the better ones from Aussie High Voltage that I dig as an AC/DC fan. Your mileage, however, may very.
As an AC/DC EP: 2/5
As a collector of all things AC/DC: Why does this exist?
Compared to everything else: It’s got Jailbreak on it so… 3/5