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Thursday, December 31, 2009

AC/DC: Let There Be Rock


1) Go Down; 2) Dog Eat Dog; 3) Let There Be Rock; 4) Bad Boy Boogie; 5) Problem Child; 6) Overdose; 7) Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be; 8) Whole Lotta Rosie.

Pay attention how nearly each and every song on this album begins with a little dry guitar «click» sound, sometimes accompanied with a muffled, but intentionally preserved, initial countdown. It is a unique thing for Let There Be Rock: already on Powerage, all the intros would be made tho­roughly clean. So it is symbolic, and the best guess is that the band is telling us that, having found its schtick on the previous two albums, it has now found its sound.

Because if AC/DC ever did make the transition from «hard rock» to «metal», or any other sort of sound-related transition if these terms do not suit us, this is the spot. Malcolm and Angus add a rough, leaden touch to their guitars, going for more distortion and «dirt», and realize the head­banger's dream: a sound so fat and crunchy that, when played at the proper volume, it never fails to bring out your devil if only God did not forget to endow you with one.

The album is not without problems. Some of the songs have lazy riffs — 'Go Down' recalls their least inspired blues-rock romps, 'Overdose' has never even once surfaced as a live recording, 'Dog Eat Dog' is equally so-so, and, for some sort of silly censorship reason, the classic number 'Crab­sody In Blue', worth it for the title alone, has never surfaced on the international version of the record, instead replaced by a slightly shortened version of 'Problem Child'. This is depressing, especially given that the whole album hosts but eight numbers.

Still, fillerish as they are, all of these songs rock as well, and none of them spoil one's appetite for the classics. 'Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be' has one of the band's most memorable «angular» riffs going for it, and a great cool 'Hey you! Yeah, you!' from Bon at the start. The title track and 'Whole Lotta Rosie' are acknowledged classics, both for their mock-anthemic quality and the ut­most level of madness that Angus achieves with his solos, literally the musical equivalents of a fire team drowning your burning house or car in avalanches of foam; at the end of 'Whole Lotta Rosie', one risks the real danger of suffocating, since there is every chance of you forgetting how to breathe under the onslaught of the younger Young's incessant pummeling.

But, upon being heavily saturated with the two hits, my heart chooses to belong elsewhere. Where 'Bad Boy Boogie' is frequently viewed as merely a cool element in the band's stage show — it is that number during which Angus does his strip show — I have gradually come to the conclusion that it might simply be the AC/DC song. Everything about it is perfect to per­fection. The noisy intro, and how the song's riff grows out of it. The riff itself — simple, bluesy, amazing in its austerity, triggering your inner rhythms like crazy. Bon Scott as the ideal man to blurt out the message: 'It was the seventh day, I was the seventh son — and it scared the hell out of everyone!' The breathtaking pause before Angus rips into the solo. The lengthy one-note pas­sage. The deception as the drums kick back into full gear, only to disappear entirely a few bars later. The build-up back to the main melody, by which time — notice? — the riff has actually changed, but did not lose any of its power. Mark Evans' crescendo on the bass, piling up high high high until Bon relaunches the vocal part. In terms of how much is going on, it may be the band's most complex creation, ever, and yet it is still perfectly fit for the hormone level of a seventh grader, a masterpiece of insulting brutality.

Let There Be Rock is an arrogant, but perfect title. Presumptuously, it almost seems to imply that before it there was no rock as such, and that it is only now that this pack of sacrilegious Aus­tralians, playing God, allow it to come into existence. (Presumption seriously confirmed by the video that accompanied the title track, in which Bon is seen dressed as a preacher and Angus, oh good heavens, is playing with a self-made halo stuck on his head). Of course, Bon's lyrics, hila­riously retelling the story of the birth of rock'n'roll, would seem to contradict that. But whoever listens to AC/DC for the lyrics, hilarious as they might be?

Come to think of it — from a certain point of view at least, they may be right. Certainly rock had never ever sounded quite like this, and, more importantly, it has never ever sounded more «rock» than this. In the whole history of popular music after 1977, no one has ever written a song that rocks — in the simplest, commonest, basest sense of the term, not in its intellectualized perver­sion — harder than 'Whole Lotta Rosie'. So, «let there be rock» indeed. Thumbs up without a single question asked, even despite all the filler.


  1. Whole lotta Rosie has one of the best riffs ever. But please don't pay any attention to drum and bass, because they are so damn monotonous. That's typically your AC/DC.

  2. The first AC/DC album that's GREAT all the way through. Not a bad moment anywhere. Hard to single out a song here cuz they all kick ass, but "Whole Lotta Rosie" is probably the best. The album shows a dramatic evolution for them, and IMO is the first of a long run of classic albums.

  3. Dean 1970s AC/DC Fan LaCapraraOctober 27, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    Their finest hour with Bon, great rock 'n' roll without once letting up (although obviously first couple of tunes are nothing special). Love hearing "Overdose" and "LTBR" while "Whole Lotta Rosie" is admittedly great. Sad when radio stations ignore other equally-great pieces like "Hell Ain't..." or "Bad Boy Boogie." They were on fire in this wild era.

  4. Go Down the kind of boogie Status Quo had done since 1971 with Mean Girl - only Status Quo did it twice as fast. Go figure. Not to mention Bon Scott getting as obnoxious as Robert Plant at his worst when faking an orgasm.
    Bad Boy Boogie is just another generic song.
    Let there be Rock is my favourite AC/DC song ever - for once they have found a non-stereotypal form and the bass has something interesting to do as well.

    I owned this album as a teenager, but did considered it a bad buy.

    MNb = M.Nieuweboer.

  5. This is my favorite Bon-era album. Even "Highway to Hell" doesn't compare with the utter crunch of these recordings. I'd also have to disagree about "Dog Eat Dog"; the lyrics are filler, but the riff is fun.