Review Summary: An audiophile’s worst nightmare in the best way
Having seemingly taken their cheeky side as far as it could go and finally getting their worldwide distribution ironed out, AC/DC opted for all-out power with Let There Be Rock. It just might be the most aggressive album they’ve ever put out with more active rhythms, brasher guitars, and their most feral vocals. The ”*** it, we’ll do it live” vibes even result in a couple songs going blatantly out of tune, resulting an audiophile’s worst nightmare in the best way.
This is perhaps best demonstrated on the title track, a six-minute monster that sees the musicians firing on all cylinders. The drums maintain a driving freight train beat throughout, the bass and guitars sharing dynamic contrasts with the former anchoring the verses while the latter puts in choppy chugs and frenzied solos, and Bon Scott’s rock evangelizing is at his most charismatic. It became a live staple for a reason and screams to be blasted at full volume. Part of me wonders how much more explosive the album could’ve been had this song been the opener instead of “Go Down.”
That energy comes back with a vengeance on the closing “Whole Lotta Rosie.” Armed with a supercharged Bo Diddley riff and demeaning yet celebratory lyrics that make “Fat Bottomed Girls” look subtle, the song is an exercise of barely controlled chaos. The opening call-and-response sets the stage for the hustling verse/chorus sets while the solo section threatens to go completely off the rails, circling back to the main riff with some extra licks thrown in. Absolute fire all around.
These two monoliths threaten to overshadow the rest of the album, but the other songs hold their own. “Bad Boy Boogie” and “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place To Be” are even stronger in live form on the forthcoming If You Want Blood, but the executions here show off some gumption, particularly the former’s contrarian strut. It’s also a little funny to see “Problem Child” be recycled from Dirty Deeds on the American version, but it arguably fits the hard ‘n Heavy mission better than the crass yet subdued “Crabsody in Blue.”
While Let There Be Rock falls just a hair shy of being among AC/DC’s best works for me, it has more than enough energy to stand out. Their personality isn’t as exaggerated as on the last couple outings, but the more intense presentation sets their musicianship to a higher standard, resulting in some of their most electrifying songs. As much as it annoyed the band to be grouped in with the emerging punk movement by journalists at the time, listening to Let There Be Rock makes it easy to see how they came to such a conclusion.