DVD Review: AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock

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The year 1979 must seem like ancient history to a good percentage of AC/DC’s present fans, kind of like when I hear my parents talk about 1952 or something. 1979 was ten years before my first son was born and during that time a youthful AC/DC was out touring the world. With singer Bon Scott still out front, the band probably had no idea the concert footage shot in Paris on that December day would be the last to include Scott. In a tragic and all-too-familiar exit from this life, he was found lifeless during the afternoon of February 20th, 1980 in a car after being left to sleep off a night of heavy drinking.

Although Scott was only 33 years old at the time of his death, the time he spent as the frontman for one of the hardest-rocking bands of all time certainly provided him with experiences that many can only dream about. Let There Be Rock will live on as a tribute to Scott’s brief, but highly-influential mark left behind on a group that continues to thrill fans world-wide some three decades later.acdc-let-there-be-rock

The untimely departure of Scott no doubt forced a profound readjustment for the group for obvious reasons, but beyond the emotional aspect, Bon Scott was a major creative force alongside the Young brothers as revealed in the DVD’s credits that list them as the composers of every song performed during that show.

Let There Be Rock might be what fans expect in many ways, since a good number of the bands hottest hits of the day are served up with a bit of interview footage sprinkled in between. The show features AC/DC staples such as “Live Wire,” “Highway To Hell,” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” “Let There Be Rock,” and of course, more.

Although I’ve always found AC/DC to be a group I’m happy to listen to when it happened to come on MTV or a friend’s car radio, I don’t claim to be a hard-core AC/DC fan. Even so, some of the footage on Let There Be Rock took me back to a vivid memory of the first time I saw AC/DC on MTV or some other concert-oriented program of the day.

Obviously, the channel I was watching is not so indelibly etched in my memory, but the performance was another matter! In particular, the wild and nearly endless energy produced by human perpetual motion machine Angus Young. How he could play guitar (before the days of wireless no less!) and move his head like that and spin around on the floor like the “Tasmanian Devil” of Looney Tunes fame was, and still is, beyond me.

It was also interesting to note that Young’s “strip tease” routine is a well-rehearsed bit of comedy that’s been part of the show since at least 1979 when the film for this DVD was shot. It’s hard not to think of Young as a sort of second frontman given all the attention he seems to draw from the cameras as well as the fans.

As for the production of the DVD itself, the sound quality is very good on my standard DVD copy. As someone who might be considered notorious for my criticism of the sound on live recordings, that probably translates to the “sound quality is excellent” for those a bit less snobby with regard to studio vs. live recordings.

The video is also quite good, especially considering that it was filmed well before HD became part of the lexicon. How that original footage makes the transition to Blu-Ray on the limited collector’s edition is not known to me, but my suspicion is that it is worth picking up for those with the players and home theater systems that will permit the full high-quality experience of the show.

As one might expect, the whole live experience back in 1979 is not quite as extravagant as most of today’s rock shows where all the extras are concerned. There are no giant cannons or bigger-than-life Rosie dolls. Standard colored lighting and a flash of the full moon from Angus Young’s direction make do as the lasers, pyrotechnics and Jumbo Tron-style screens of the day. All of those extras are not necessarily exclusive to today, but Let There Be Rock is all about bringing the music to the assembled fans in The City of Light at that time. as well as those who to choose to add this historic recording to their personal collections.

Let There Be Rock is set for release on June 7th. The DVD features 97 minutes of color concert and interview footage featuring Dolby Surround Sound Stereo and 5.1 with closed captioning. The limited collector’s edition runs approximately 183 minutes and is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

1 Comment

  1. Mike Marino July 1, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Nice review. I’ve been a huge AC/DC fan since around 1980, when they released Back In Black. And although I love that album, it was the “old stuff” that was being played quite a bit on the radio in the aftermath of Bon’s death that grabbed me.

    In the 80s, my local movie theater in SoCal played Let There Be Rock quite often on Saturday nights at midnight. They would rotate it with The Sound Remains The Same, Heavy Metal, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and, later, U2’s Rattle and Hum.

    My friends and I loved the movie, but goofed on Angus Young because we couldn’t understand a word he said in the movie clips in between songs!

    Thanks again… I’m sure I’ll pick this up shortly.

    Mike

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