Let There Be Rock is AC/DC’s fourth studio album but only the second to be released in the USA. After their first two albums were combined to make High Voltage, the band’s 1976 album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap was given a pass by their North American label, Atlantic Records. Not breaking into the American market only fueled the band’s desire to do so even more. Everyone upped their game for Let There Be Rock and by golly do we ever have a gem here. AC/DC’s prior outings have been great, but this album is their first masterpiece.
Before we discuss the tunes, we need to talk about the cover. It is the best AC/DC album cover if not the best Rock ‘N Roll cover of all time. Not only is the first appearance of AC/DC’s now iconic logo designed by Gerard Huerta but… well just look at it:
I rest my case.
The album launches with “Go Down”, a sleazy hard rock punch in the face. It features one of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young’s most tastiest of riffs. Angus Young on lead guitar shows how his shredding skills went from great to amaze-balls. The tonal range he squeezes out of his Gibson SG has me wishing I had canine ears to appreciate all of the octaves he reaches. Singer Bon Scott’s lyrics, about a.. shall we say… sexually uninhibited and legendary groupie Ruby Lips are as bluesy as ever.
Ruby, Ruby, where you been so long
Done took to drinkin’ whiskey
Baby since you been gone
Ain’t no one I know do it as good as you
On the vinyl record the song fades out due to space limitations and for some reason that was repeated the original CD, but every copy since the album’s first remastering now has the tune ending in the usual AC/DC flourish. Make sure you update if you haven’t already. #WorthIt
“Dog Eat Dog” is next and was the album’s first single. For me it is probably the weakest tune on the record with Bon’s lyrics having been better elsewhere….
Well it’s a dog eat dog
Eat cat too
The French eat frog
And I eat you
I’m used to it so I hardly cringe anymore. The song does have a groovy beat and Angus’ solos are rock solid. A slightly less than average AC/DC tune.
Now the title track, “Let There Be Rock”, holy crap is this sucker ever heavy. You can feel the anger in this one. It screams “Listen to us, damn it!” “Release our albums in the US!” The riff chugs along when the guitars are not taking massive breaks to let Bon tell a fictional tale of how rock and roll was born. Only Mark Evan’s bass and Phil Rudd’s drums can be heard backing up Bon’s soliloquies. Listening to a locked in Phil Rudd for its entire 6 minutes and 10 seconds is a treat in of itself. Legend has it that Rudd did only four takes… all back to back. The second take is the one that made the record.
“Bad Boy Boogie” got major play during the live shows as it earned Angus Young’s “strip tease” treatment. As someone who plays these songs on guitar like a true amateur I can see why. It is a blast to play. To listen to, however, it is an above average early AC/DC tune. The lyrics are fine, and there is a cool break down in the song. Also has a bit of an intro that starts with the tape machine humming to full speed and Phil Rudd setting up the high hat. It helps to give the album a raw vibe.
“Problem Child” is the only song that differs from the Aussie release. We are supposed to be hearing “Overdose” right now, but instead we have a tune that was recorded for Dirty Deeds. I hate the fact that it is an edited version of the song. You can tell it was recorded at a different time as its production quality doesn’t quite fit the rest of the album. I hate that it made “Crabsody in Blue” (The song that was cut for it) difficult for us North Americans to get. With that said, I’m kind of used to it now. It’s an OK tune. One of the better ones from Dirty Deeds.
The next three tracks are solid gold. “Overdose” is the album’s “slow track” and it cooks once the riff kicks in after a long intro. I imagine Mal or Angus were just messing around with some arpeggios before the recording started, but you gotta keep that live vibe going. It works. Groovy tune.
“Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” sounds like it was recorded live. I swear every guitar is set to a different tuning. Somewhere between standard and a quarter a step down. It works as it gives the guitars a deeper sound for the tune’s big, chugging guitar riff. Bon lyrics are about a woman who doesn’t treat him right, but he stay with her because she’s good in bed. Classic Bon. Classic tune.
Wrapping up the album up is “Whole Lotta Rosie” which means Let There Be Rock is book ended with two tunes about a sexually uninhibited women. Rosie is a lot larger than Ruby (42-39-56 to be exact) and Bon couldn’t be happier with her. On the surface you could argue that there is something overly chauvinistic but these songs, but they are really about Bon having fun. He isn’t angry at the women or fixated on their physical beauty. It’s about two consensual adults having a good time. Damn, that man was a poet.
“Rosie” is probably my favorite AC/DC song of all time and easily be the best on the album. I could listen to its John Lee Hooker inspired groove all day, everyday. Angus’ guitar rips out a couple of the greatest solo’s I have ever heard. Malcolm’s tonal shifts with the rhythm section allow Angus to explore every inch of his SG’s neck in tune. Phenomenal tune.
If you are a fan of music get this album.
As an AC/DC album: 4.5/5
Compared to all other music: 5/5