“Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC
(Words/Music: Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott, Album: If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, Atlantic Records 1978)
Some songs raise your heartbeat and get you blood pumping. For me, this is one of those songs. God help me if I accidentally let this song get into my car because I could never afford to pay the speeding tickets this song would cause. Like most AC/DC songs, it has a simple and catchy riff which disappears behind the late Bon Scott’s vocals about the birth and evolution of rock ‘n’ roll. The drums and bass carry the beat and the guitars play sporadically, teasing the listener in a classic case of showmanship. When the guitars return, Young plays the riff and also plays a great double-stop Chuck Berry style solo, fitting in perfectly with the lyrics about early rock ‘n’ roll. AC/DC have shown that, in 1978, they were the next step in the evolution of rock. While I wasn’t there for the early days of rock, I can appreciate them. However, I was there for the early days of heavy metal as aided by MTV and I remember watching this live concert on MTV back in the early 80s. I also remember being completely blown away by how great the guitar was. And even though AC/DC has seemingly put out the same album over and over for the last 35 years, this concert has always stuck in my head and has been, to me, the highlight of their careers.
To this day, I consider this song one of the greatest guitar performances ever recorded. And while it may not have been part of a legendary festival like Woodstock or Monterey Pop (which helped aide the rep of Jimi Hendrix), the band did manage to have the foresight to capture their show live. Angus Young, possibly the greatest riff rocker in heavy metal, never succumbed to the trend of playing as fast as possible and creating otherworldly sounds. Instead, he just played straight-forward rock guitar. Even during his unaccompanied live solo, it was more about entertaining than showing off. After the first break, he plays a series of notes which builds, almost seductively, which always makes me imagine a striptease. The solo builds, changes pace, and has enough variety to keep the listener interested. Most importantly, it isn’t too long or complex. The one thing that AC/DC and Angus Young understood was that simpler was better. But simple didn’t need to be unimpressive.
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