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AC/DC: Let There Be Rock(1980)
The only movie powered by AC/DC. This legendary concert film, covering a 1979 Paris concert during the Australian heavy metal band's "Highway To Hell" tour showcases the power and precision that the quintet bring to vicious rockers like "Whole Lotta Rosie" and "Let There Be Rock." Pixie-ish lead guitarist Angus Young, attired in his trademark school-boy's uniform, takes center stage with his energetic antics and frenetic solos, while the rest of the band crank out their minimalist boogie with quiet determination. Interview segments and humorous backstage footage show another side to the thuggish musicians, especially AC/DC's flamboyant lead singer Bon Scott, who died two months after this filmed concert.
For more about AC/DC: Let There Be Rock and the AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray release, see AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 25, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Malcolm Young, Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Phil Rudd, Bon Scott
Directors: Eric Dionysius, Eric Mistler
» See full cast & crew
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray Review
A classic concert comes to Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 25, 2011
AC/DC fans who also happen to be high-definition aficionados have a lot to celebrate this year. Just recently, AC/DC: Live at River Plate was released, giving a good idea of what the band has been up to relatively recently. But perhaps much more anticipated is this new 30th anniversary release (has it really been that long?) of AC/DC Let There Be Rock, a (mostly) concert feature that gives fans, especially younger ones, a chance to see the band in its original heyday, with original lead singer Bon Scott. It's fascinating to compare the two Blu-rays in terms of actual concert footage. Live at River Plate is huge, gargantuan even, in virtually every aspect. An unbelievably large arena, a swarming mass of humanity in the audience, and a big, big, big production that features animations, fireworks, light shows and all the attendant hoo-hah of modern rock concerts. Let There Be Rock, on the other hand, is a relatively small scale affair. On a simple stage the Young boys and the rest of the band move through their set list with a minimum of fuss and bother. There are small pretty small scale lighting changes, but there's little of the glitz and glamour that modern day audiences have come to expect from the rock demigods on tour. And while the opportunity to see Angus shred in his youthful exuberance can never be underestimated, it's probably the chance to see (and hear) Bon Scott that may draw a lot of prospective consumers to this release.
Bon Scott was born Ronald Belford Scott in 1946 and had already been part of his own band before his ultimate hook-up with AC/DC in 1974. In one of the interview segments which are interspersed throughout the concert footage in Let There Be Rock, Scott claims he was the band's chauffeur and that after the boys parted ways with vocalist Dave Evans and were on the hunt for someone new, he asked to audition. "I went from driving their car to singing in the band!" Scott exclaims with a bit of sheepish joy. There's little doubt that Bon's contributions to the band upped its ferocity level to heretofore unimagined levels. Despite a typical rock rasp, Scott's voice was incredibly agile and forceful and seemed to be the perfect counterpart to Angus Young's equally ferocious guitar work. There's a certain bittersweet aspect to a lot of AC/DC Let There Be Rock knowing that Scott would be dead within just a few weeks of filming having been completed on the piece. Though conspiracy theories still run rampant on what actually befell Scott, the prevailing theory is that he simply drank too much, passed out and asphyxiated on his own vomit while sleeping it off in a car parked outside. It brings a certain shock value to another one of the interview segments when the interviewer asks him what his band mates mean by calling him "special," and he responds, "I'm a special drunkard. I drink too much."
Filmed in Paris in 1979 as part of the band's Highway to Hell, tour Let There Be Rock finds AC/DC at the absolute apex of their powers, at least with regard to this iteration of the band. There had been a fairly dramatic revolving door element with several people coming and going through the years, but there is a solidity and palpable impact to this assemblage as the band simply tears through a blistering set of hard rock and blues pieces. Angus Young, dressed as always in his frankly bizarre school boy get up, is more on fire than some may believe, doing a weird scissors kick back and forth across the stage as if possessed by the very Devil he loves to "sign" his autographs with. His famous "moment in the sun" on "Bad Boy Boogie" shows him to simply be one of the most protean talents and "baddest boys" (in a good way) on lead guitar of that era of rock.
As the narrator mentions at the opening of the film, and Anthony Bozza recounts in the booklet included in the set, AC/DC hit the road with two buses, two semitralers, fourteen roadies, twenty tons of equipment, a 30,000 watt P.A. system and 300,000 watts of lights. That may sound like a lot of stuff, but the concert is refereshingly "lo-fi," with no pyrotechnics, no animations, nothing but the band and their music. That is one of the main selling features of Let There Be Rock. It's about the music and not the showbiz aspects. It may seem old fashioned to some, but it's still rock 'n' roll to me.
AC/DC's set list includes:
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray, Video Quality
Despite a generally strong AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.37:1, AC/DC Let There Be Rock simply can't overcome the limitations of its source elements. This is a piece that was shot in virtual darkness a lot of time with what appears to have been smaller millimeter formats (at least some of the time), and therefore this feature has a somewhat murky and soft appearance. While grain is quite evident in any number of shots, it does appear that at least some moderate DNR may have been applied to this release, leading to a kind of smeary ambience some of the time. Colors are generally excellent, and things look a good deal better in the hotel "confessional" sequences as well as the sort of proto-music video which is included as part of the concert. But the main concert footage, which consists largely of the band playing in aggressive red (demonic?) light is very, very soft and suffers from fairly severe crush, so that backgrounds simply disappear and shadow detail reveals next to nothing.
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Thankfully things are much better on the audio side of things, which is probably the main calling card for fans, anyway. Aside from the original mix in Dolby Digital 2.0, this release sports an excellent lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix which offers incredibly robust low end, bringing the propulsive riffs of AC/DC fully to life. There are some occasional mix issues in terms of Bon not being mixed loudly enough above the band, but those are no doubt endemic to the original mixdown. The surround repurposing is really good and allows the individual instruments to really shine, giving ample breathing space to all of them. The drums are crisp and solid and the Young boys sound fantastic. Fidelity is excellent, and though the band typically plays everything "turned up to 11," dynamic range is also quite supple.
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
AC/DC Let There Be Rock's Limited Edition boasts an impressive selection of extras, starting with the packaging itself. Housed in a hinged steelbox with a nicely embossed cover, the set features the following extras.
On the Blu-ray itself:
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There's an embarrassment of AC/DC riches on Blu-ray now. While Live at River Plate may show the seams a little more, especially vocally, it still reveals the band to be in rather vigorous shape, considering everyone's advancing ages. Let There Be Rock, on the other hand, is a testament to the band in its relative youth and early glory. Featuring a fantastic opportunity to see Bon Scott in action, the concert is also notable for the incredible playing of Angus, who is simply on fire. This limited edition comes stuffed to the gills with excellent supplements and should be a fan's treasure trove. Though the image quality on this Blu-ray isn't up to contemporary standards, the audio is superb and the release as a whole comes Highly recommended.
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AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray, News and Updates
• AC/DC Let There Be Rock Blu-ray Announced - February 11, 2011
Warner Home Video has announced AC/DC: Let There Be Rock for Blu-ray release on June 7, in a limited-edition BD/DVD combo pack in a 30th Anniversary Collector's Tin. This legendary concert film covers a 1979 Paris concert during the Australian heavy metal band's ...
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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