16 Years Ago: AC/DC Release ‘Bonfire’ Box Set
On Nov. 18, 1997, AC/DC paid tribute to their fallen comrade Bon Scott with the release of the ‘Bonfire’ boxed set. The five-CD boxed set, issued 16 years ago, featured live material and alternate takes from the maniacal singer’s tenure in the band.
Scott was one of the most distinctive vocalists in hard rock history, as well as one of its most energetic frontmen. Unfortunately, he was also a self-destructive alcoholic whose legendary drinking ended up taking his life on Feb. 19, 1980 at the age of 33.
His AC/DC bandmates moved on without him, paying tribute to him with their record-breaking 1980 album ‘Back in Black,’ for which they recruited singer Brian Johnson. But fans of the group’s original lineup clamored for more from Scott, and the group obliged with the release of large ‘Bonfire’ collection. (The title was apparently chosen by Scott himself; the liner notes explain that when angered he would often — and mostly jokingly — threaten to go solo and release an album by that name.)
Disc one comprised the entirety of ‘Live From the Atlantic Studios,’ featuring live versions of classics like ‘Live Wire,’ ‘High Voltage’ and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’ Two additional discs featured the entire ‘Let There Be Rock’ movie, which captured the group in a 1979 concert in Paris during the ‘Highway to Hell’ tour.
Disc four was titled ‘Volts’ and contained alternate versions and outtakes of such classic hard rock tracks as ‘Dirty Eyes’ (which became ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’), ‘Touch Too Much’ and an early version of ‘If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It).’ The package concluded with a remastered version of ‘Back in Black,’ which many fans felt missed the point since Scott ostensibly inspired the album, but did not perform on it.
The box set also included a poster, a backstage pass, keyring and other extras, as well as a large booklet of liner notes and rare photos from before Scott’s death.
Though critical reaction was mixed, Allmusic.com praised the live portions of ‘Bonfire,’ saying, “For hardcore fans, this is something of a dream come true, since the live albums are stronger than any of the group’s other live releases . . . The disc of alternate takes, outtakes, and stray live cuts offers no real revelations, but there are enough interesting moments to make it worthwhile.”
Watch an AC/DC Live Performance of ‘Live Wire’