AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

More primal rock-boogie from the masters of innuendo

AC/DC are without a doubt the greatest and most successful hard-rock band ever to emerge from Australia. Made up of a bunch of street-wise proletariats, like most musicians of the time, they learned their craft the hard way, forging their signature style by playing working class pubs (was there any other kind) and dead-end venues.

Lead by a front man who looked as though he’d just walked off an 18th century pirate ship before deciding to form a rock group, and Angus “head-banging” Young, a guitarist who for some reason thought that wearing a school boy outfit would attract the women, while supported by a no frills but solid Victoria Bitter rhythm section, who could go wrong?

Let There Be Rock was released in 1977, the band having broken big the year before with the popular “Jailbreak”, a primal convict stomper, whose thumping three chord rhythm was a perfect example of how simple is often better. “Go Down” kicks off the album, where Bon Scott makes it clear that he’s a blues man at heart, with lyrics such as “Baby since you been gone/Ain’t no-one I know do it good as you” you know he’s been listening to his Muddy Waters. “Dog Eat Dog” is next, whose Darwinian theme is backed by some effective pounding by the band, and crunching riffs from Angus.

The title track is a driving high-octane tour de force, where Bon preaches from his pulpit the book of rock ‘n’ roll genesis, while the less than angelic Angus runs up and down the fret with a ferocity that would have blown any London punk band off the stage (something which they eventually did by the way).“Bad Boy Boogie” and “Overdose” see the lads repeating themselves with the same riffs already heard on their better songs. “Crabsody In Blue” is the only ballad on the album, no doubt an ode to personal experience, but ultimately forgettable (ballads weren’t exactly their forte anyway). “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” begins with some raucous and ringing guitar, but doesn’t quite sink in (despite being memorable), because at this point the band’s lack of true virtuosity is starting to show, and unless you’re a Neanderthal who’s happy with listening to the same riff for 40 minutes, then I must be missing something. However the record does end on a high with “Whole Lotta Rosie”, an explosive rocker that would be covered by Guns ‘n’ Roses some ten years later, and which draws the album to a satisfying close.

But buyer beware: this is one of those records guaranteed to put hair on your chest and draw out your inner caveman, and although you might have forgotten your primitive ancestors, you can bet that your DNA certainly hasn’t.