KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Forty Year Friday – AC/DC “LET THERE BE ROCK”

Artist: AC/DC
Album: LET THERE BE ROCK

[Welcome to Forty Year Friday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1977]

ac-dc-let-there-be-rockFor more than four decades, Australian (by way of Scotland) quintet AC/DC has been doing one thing: delivering hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll inspired by Chuck Berry and the blues, with suggestive, often-humorous single-entendre lyrics. They were formed around guitarists (and brothers) Angus & Malcolm Young, and for most of their career were anchored by the rhythm section of bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd. Although singer Bon Scott only recorded with them for 5 years prior to his death in 1980, his distinctive leering vocal delivery made him one of the most powerful front men in rock history. After a couple of releases that scratched the surface of the sound they would eventually achieve, and another (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap) that came much closer (but wouldn’t appear in the U.S. until 1981), they unleashed their first definitive album: Let There Be Rock. With Williams’ predecessor Mark Evans on bass and Angus ripping one killer guitar solo after another, they came up with their most consistent set of songs to date. At a time when the musical landscape was changing, AC/DC held their own with the established rock hierarchy while still managing to out-punk the punks.

ac-dc-photo-1977

Five of the eight tracks are undisputed AC/DC classics. “Let There Be Rock” is essentially rock ‘n’ roll scripture, as Bon teaches the congregation that Tchaikovsky (via Chuck Berry) said, “Let there be sound…light…drums…guitars…let there be ROCK” before the choppy guitar riff kicks things into high gear. Bon’s vocals are the blueprint for what hard rock vocals should sound like. He also tells the humorous story of a one night stand with an enormous woman in “Whole Lotta Rosie,” with Malcolm’s stop-start heavy blues riffing leading the way. The stomping rockers “Dog Eat Dog” & “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be,” with Rudd’s four-on-the-floor rhythm, set the stage for many similar songs that would follow, some equaling but none surpassing these. The propulsive & catchy “Problem Child” is a slightly shorter version than the one on Dirty Deeds, replacing the tongue-in-cheek blues of “Crabsody In Blue” which only appeared on the Australian pressing of Let There Be Rock. I rate 5+ minute album opener “Go Down” slightly below the previously discussed songs, but it’s still a strong statement of intent that might have been even stronger with a shorter running time. “Bad Boy Boogie” and “Overdose” round out the track listing. Both are solid but never made a big impact on me. Let There Be Rock might not be the best AC/DC album (although on any given day it could be my favorite), but it’s where they finally put together the right combination of guitar riffs, melodic hooks, unforgettable lyrics and a powerful production sound courtesy of longtime producers Harry Vanda and George (older brother of Angus & Malcolm) Young. They continue to include many of these songs in their set lists four decades later, so clearly the album has stood the test of time.

Please stop by KeepsMeAlive for Aaron’s enthusiastic review of Let There Be Rock.

 

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49 comments on “Forty Year Friday – AC/DC “LET THERE BE ROCK”

  1. DanicaPiche
    January 27, 2017

    Great selection, Rich! AC/DC are one of my favorites and AC/DC with Bon Scott is the best.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Danica. I’m glad we’re on the same page regarding AC/DC. Those Bon Scott years are untouchable, especially this album & the few that followed it. I love a lot of the albums from the Brian Johnston years but I go back to the early years much more frequently.

      Also, is there a better opening line to a song than, “I’m hot, and when I’m not, I’m cold as ice”? Perhaps there are more eloquent opening statements in the history of popular music, but this is an example of perfection in simplicity.

      Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        January 27, 2017

        He had such an impact that it’s a bit awe-inspiring he was with them for only a few years. Brian Johnston is excellent, without a doubt, but Bon Scott had that magic about him.
        Their lyrics are brilliant. ‘Single-entendre’ is a great way to put it. There’s not much mystery or areas for possible confusion. What’s even more interesting is you can listen to their direct simplicity over and over, going back to them over the years, and not grow tired. How do they do it?

        Like

      • “Impact,” “awe-inspiring” and “had that magic about him” are three excellent descriptors, and pretty much answer your question as to how their direct simplicity never gets old. They were the right combination of guys at the right time. As much as I’d love to know what Bon would have been like had he not died so young, he seemed destined for that early departure. “Bon Scott, Elder Statesman” was never going to happen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        January 27, 2017

        Yes, a candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long…seems applicable. I do like the idea of “Bon Scott, Elder Statesman”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well stated.

        As for Bon Scott, Elder Statesman, naturally he would still be performing “I’ve got big balls” with a devilish grin on his face. So, an immature elder statesman. That’s what I’ll strive to be. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      • DanicaPiche
        January 28, 2017

        Everyone would be disappointed if he stopped!
        I’m having a hard time picturing you in the immature category, but I’d like to see it. 🙂

        Like

      • I am quite immature. My wife always tells me she married a 15-year-old. I take that as a compliment. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • DanicaPiche
        January 28, 2017

        That’s a great compliment. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 30, 2017

        Also, is there a better opening line to a song than, “I’m hot, and when I’m not, I’m cold as ice”? Perhaps there are more eloquent opening statements in the history of popular music, but this is an example of perfection in simplicity.

        Let’s see. Extra point if you recognize them immediately. 🙂

        “Do you still see me even here? The silver cord lies on the ground.”

        “Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been.”

        “Grim faced and forbidding
        Their faces closed tight
        An angular mass of New Yorkers
        Pacing in rhythm
        Race the oncoming night
        They chase through the streets of Manhattan
        Head first humanity
        Pause at a light
        Then flow through the streets of the city”

        I remember once when I was travelling with my then teenage son by car through Sweden. He was into hiphop at the time, and I put on the CD which contains the song the lyrics to which are the third example above. They aren’t sung until a few minutes into the song, and then he says “NOW she starts to sing”. 🙂

        Like

      • I was stumped on the first one (Jethro Tull) but the others came to me pretty quickly. Obviously the Beatles lyric included the title so that wasn’t much of a challenge but Rush’s “The Camera Eye” was a nice choice. That’s a wonderful story about your son. Of course we really see that quote as “Now SHE starts to sing.” Gotta love Geddy’s “female” vocals.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        February 1, 2017

        More than once I had read comparisons of Lee’s vocals to those of the singer of Pavlov’s Dog. Having never heard the latter, I couldn’t judge. Pavlov’s dog will have a few concerts near me in April, so I checked them out on YouTube. Yes, the vocals are high, but otherwise not similar. But the music is actually quite good. Ever head of them?
        .

        Like

      • I’ve read a little about Pavlov’s Dog over the years but never heard their music. I’ll check online for some samples of their music. Thanks for the suggestion, Phillip.

        Like

      • I just listened to a Pavlov’s Dog album (At The Sound Of The Bell) on Spotify. I can occasionally hear a similarity between the lead singer and Geddy Lee on the first few Rush albums, but the comparison isn’t that obvious. Good music, though…as you said.

        Like

  2. stephen1001
    January 27, 2017

    I was lucky enough to see them in Montreal a couple years ago – a whole lotta rosie, hell ain’t a bad place to be, and the title track all found their way into the set – like you say, they hold up just fine!

    Like

    • Nice to know they’re still delivering the goods all these years later, although I’m not surprised. Was Phil Rudd still with them when you saw them, or was that after his legal issues? I saw them once, on the Ballbreaker tour (’96?) and they were phenomenal. I’m not a headbanger but I banged my head the whole show. It’s the only time I hurt my neck at a concert, but it was worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • stephen1001
        January 29, 2017

        It was another drummer by that point in the year – but a show definitely worth risking temporary neck pain to participate fully in the rock!

        Like

      • I think it’s a rite of passage to have neck pain from headbanging. I can’t believe it took me until I was 30 for that to happen, but it’s impossible to avoid at an AC/DC show.

        Like

  3. 80smetalman
    January 27, 2017

    Fantastic album! Like you said, there are at least five classic tunes on this one and they are still be sung today.

    Like

  4. Alyson
    January 27, 2017

    Dropping by as it is 40 Year Friday after all but sadly no overlap with the teenage girls of Scotland this week (despite the fact that there was a strong Scottish connection with the Young brothers) – Our boyfriends were definitely fans though as you would no doubt have expected! Great post as you are obviously a great fan – I am already anticipating what next week’s pick will be.

    Like

    • Hi Alyson. I had predicted that this wasn’t your cup of tea last week, but I’m not surprised that the fellas were big fans at the time. I am an AC/DC fan but they’re not one of my all-time favorites…although when I’m in the right mood they sound like the greatest band in the world. There are probably about 5 albums in their discography that I consider essential. The rest are very good but just slightly watered down versions of their better albums. As for next week’s choice, I have a feeling you’ll approve. Hope you have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        January 27, 2017

        Well predicted but curious about next week now. Iconic outfit however sported by Angus Young – the fellas definitely didn’t copy that look!

        Like

      • Angus is truly a “one and only.” So was Bon Scott, but he didn’t stick around too long.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Alyson
    January 27, 2017

    Did enjoy the Jack Black film though where some of their songs feature heavily.

    Like

  6. Jeff Kempin
    January 27, 2017

    What can I say, another classic pick. AC/DC have stood the test of time with the formula you mentioned and have kicked ass for 40+ years. LTBR is one of their classics. As good as the Brian Johnson era has been, AC/DC was really their best with Bon Scott.

    Like

    • Alright, another one in common. Happy to hear it, Jeff. I completely agree about the Bon Scott era. So much of what makes them legends is on those handful of albums with him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. mikeladano
    January 27, 2017

    Great writeup Rich. I have to confess I don’t know how Bad Boy Boogie and Overdose even go without having the album on. So no huge impact on me either. The rest of the album, ooooh yeah.

    My preference is always to Dirty Deeds. It was my first! One of my first albums ever period, too. I like AC/DC with more jangle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mike. I’m glad we agree about those two songs. I wondered if I missed something that other, more passionate fans love about them. The other six, though, are pretty great. I don’t rank Dirty Deeds as highly as this one, but I can understand why you have such a strong connection to it. I played it again earlier today and I still think it’s spotty. They really tightened up the performances and songwriting for Let There Be Rock.

      Like

  8. Kevin
    January 27, 2017

    I appreciate AC/DC as one of the great Rock bands of my generation, but my brief love affair with them begins and ends with Back In Black.

    Like

    • Hi Kevin. If you ever rekindle your brief love affair with them, I think Highway To Hell is the next logical step, followed by Let There Be Rock. I feel like you need at least one Bon Scott-era album in your collection.

      Like

  9. J.
    January 28, 2017

    Nice post, Rich. I always discarded AC/DC as a bit of a gimmick until delving into their catalogue a few years back. Of those I’d heard, the Bon Scott years were certainly the most appealing, though I do live Back In Black a whole lot.

    I think the appeal with the Bon years is how visceral they sounded. The songs got stronger on each album, but there was a looseness there and an energy that Bon brought that is unmatched by most rock vocalists. He was very like Alex Harvey in that respect… vocalists that have a wicked rasp, for want of a better expression.

    I think post Back In Black (and possibly including that one) they sound more like a well oiled machine. Some great songs, played well, but less urgent and more rehearsed than visceral.

    Like

    • I’m glad you mentioned Alex Harvey. After reading about the SAHB for years, I picked up one of their albums in the used bins about a decade ago and I loved it. The first thing I noticed was how similar Alex’s voice was to Bon Scott’s. I wonder if they ever crossed paths. I agree with your assessment of certain albums sounding like a well-oiled machine. I think the credit for that goes to “Mutt” Lange. He really tightened up their sound starting with Highway To Hell.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        January 29, 2017

        There’s a similar rasp and delivery, huh? Two incredible vocalists, no doubt.

        As for Highway To Hell, that’s my favourite AC/DC album (granted there are a few gaps). It’s where everything is perfect- musically it’s well oiled, but there’s still some bite and Bon’s vocals add intensity and a grit.

        Like

      • Highway To Hell is definitely in my AC/DC Top 3, and quite possibly my favorite. If I encountered someone who had never heard the band, I would recommend that and Back In Black as the ideal entry points into their catalog since those two are the most accessible without betraying what the band is all about. They’re two sides of the same coin.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Victim of the Fury
    January 28, 2017

    Bon Scott was my first AC/DC vocalist, although just barely as I bought Highway to Hell — still my favorite accadacca — just weeks before he died. I signed on happily for the Brian Johnson era immediately however upon release of his heroic performance on Back in Black. It was a few years before I went backwards for this one, but when I did, I never let go and find myself pulling it out quite regularly. As you say, this is truly “definitive” AC/DC!

    Like

    • Wow, that must have been devastating to get into the band via Highway To Hell when it was released and then weeks later Bon Scott was dead. I don’t think I paid any attention to them until Back In Black, but over the years the Bon-era has held up much better for me. Thanks for the feedback.

      Like

  11. keepsmealive
    January 29, 2017

    Awww YEAH!!!! \m/ \m/

    (and thanks for the linkback!)

    Like

  12. Murphy's Law
    January 29, 2017

    That video for “Let There Be Rock” is a classic! I hate to admit this, but I’ve never heard this entire album. For Those About to Rock was the first album I ever bought with my own money (because, CANNON SOLO), bought not long after that the rise of early 80’s metal kind of pushed 70’s hard rock to the side (the 5 minutes that Zeppelin wasn’t cool, before Randy Rhoads saved Ozzy and Dio revitalized Sabbath). I picked up a few at random and Dirty Deeds (because when you’re 12 “Big Balls” is the greatest song ever) but before I heard all the Bon Scott albums, I had kind of moved on to other things. Also, after getting Flick of the Switch stuck in my car cassette deck for a summer, I was done with them for a long time.

    Like

    • As if there was ever a moment that Zeppelin wasn’t cool. Haha. That certainly never happened in my world and among my circle of friends. I felt the same way about “Big Balls” (which I first heard when I was 15…the year it was officially released in the US) and it still makes me giggle (which might be proof that my wife is right when she says she married a 15-year-old) even though it’s actually kind of silly. I can understand why a summer of enforced Flick Of Thw Switch would have you switch off from AC/DC but if you’re ever in the mood to dive back into the Bon Scott years, Let There Be Rock is essential…along with Highway To Hell. I’m sure other fans would choose different titles but I think those two are their strongest, song-for-song.

      Like

      • Murphy's Law
        February 1, 2017

        I realize that is a heresy around here but after In Through the Out Door and the break up, there were a few dark days (I actually bough Coda out of a cutout bin – a real cutout bin where they notched the album cover)

        Like

      • I wonder if it’s an age thing. No one I know ever lost their love for Zeppelin, but I can imagine fans a few years older or younger than me feeling differently. The only dark days were Sept. 25, 1980 (John Bonham’s death) and that day in December when they announced they “could not continue as we were” (even though the latter was the right decision).

        Like

  13. Murphy's Law
    February 2, 2017

    It might be an age thing. I’m a couple years younger than you (In through the Out Door was the first Zep album I actually remember being released) but it seems like we’re on different sides of the 70’s/80’s transition. Not that I’m complaining – I already know what I think, I would rather read a different perspective.

    Like

    • How dare you be younger than me & have a different opinion on certain artists & eras of music? 😀

      I completely agree about different perspectives.

      Like

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