Why do hard rock bands have all the best DVDs? Following hard on the heels of Iron Maiden's vault-scouring examination of their earliest years, AC/DC give their entire career a similar jolt by diving into the archives of (predominantly) Australian television appearances to illustrate their early years in positively eyeball-shattering style. The first of the two discs that makes up Family Jewels, documenting the Bon Scott years, is probably the most interesting, just as disc two, with Brian Johnson, is probably the most familiar. Opening with an April 1975 appearance on their homeland's Countdown TV show, you get an eye-opening glimpse into just how heavily glam rock affected the nascent band -- forget Angus' schoolboy drag, here you see Scott is a schoolgirl.
The sheer, shocking energy with which the band conquered first their homeland, then Europe and beyond, screams out of the screen -- playing the records and reading the bios captures some of their impact, but it's only when you witness the full audio-visual extravaganza that you truly appreciate precisely what it was about AC/DC that appealed -- that was able to tear up the rule book as the 1970s progressed and, even in an age that was whipped by punk rock, lay the foundations for a whole new resurgence of Metallic mayhem. Disc two is mostly devoured by promo videos -- this was the '80s, after all, and it's fair to say that the band's early impact had worn off somewhat; there's nothing to compare with the "Midnight Special" and "Rock Goes to College" clips that blister through the latter half of disc one, nor the pre-MTV films shot for "Highway to Hell." But even if you do regard the second disc as simply a less-than-essential bonus, still this beautifully packaged and well-annotated collection is an exquisite addition to the library.