30 June 2009

Rock epic of the month: "Let There Be Rock" (AC/DC) 1977

Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.

I have tickets to see AC/DC next year. Yes folks, I will be one of those black-clad bogans seeing these guys live.

And I guarantee you this: I too will be perpetrating the following atrocities in the name of rock:

  • Punching my fist in the air;
  • Goat’s head salutes;
  • Air guitaring; and
  • Headbanging

And maybe some slamming as well, although AC/DC have never really been a band that you can slam to.

OK. So to celebrate, I’m doing ‘Let There Be Rock’ this month.

Acca Dacca were never really a band that did anything other than meat and potatoes rock and/or roll. I can find very few bona fide rock epics in their vast back catalogue so it’s either this or ‘Night Prowler’. So I thought I’d go for the screaming obvious and do this one.

Let There Be Rock’ clocks in at 6:06. And you know, the album that it’s off (Let There Be Rock, of course) correctly shows a band hitting some sort of creative stride. In the case of this tune, however, the tune just takes off like a racing car and keeps going like it’s completely out of control.

Phil Rudd’s drums sound like a gorilla is pounding on them and lead vocalist, the late Bon Scott just sounds like he’s totally mental as he tells the tale of how ROCK!! came into being. But while Angus Young might be the face of AC/DC, here the focus is on the rock solid riffing of Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar and bassist Mark Evans.

If there was any doubt (surely not) prior to this album that Malcolm Young is the engine room of this band, then this album, and this song in particular, put all speculation to rest.

The fact of the matter is this: AC/DC simply would not work without the riffs of Malcolm Young. You can remove Angus, because he’s essentially visual: The thing that everyone remembers about AC/DC songs if you're listening to them at home is the monolithic riffs of Malcolm. Even if some feel that they’re a bit samey.

Incidentally, have you ever seen people criticise AC/DC for this, and then it turns out that they’re fans of another “samey” act such as The Cure or The Church? I have. But this is their thing, their schtick. Their particular aural signature, if you like.

Malcolm Young’s riffs are iconic. End of story. They’re so iconic that The Cult had some sort of accident in the eighties and recorded an entire album where they thought they were AC/DC – Electric.

But don’t let me tell you. Check out
this video of the song in question. Bon Scott as the preacher man looks absolutely certifiable. Angus is dressed as a choirboy or something with a cardboard halo:

Let there be rock!

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