AC/DC: Let There Be Rock

AC/DC ARE A 4-letter word band. If you don’t like, them and some misadventure elbows you into their firing line the foulest oaths would be your only recourse, because they’re not going away.

And strangely enough if they turn you on like they turn me on the spontaneous approval still tends to have an Anglo Saxon hue. So it’s just as well I first heard Let There Be Rock in the bath: very handy for washing my mouth out with soap. Because I could hardly (deleted) usually believe the (deleted) audacity of the mother (deleted), the sheer (deleted) simplicity and (deleted) directness of the little (deleted). They (deleted) me totally.

Now there is not a lot of variety in this 40 minutes: 7 headbangers and one comic slow blues. But that’s not what you crave from them is it? You know what AC/DC do live. Blow roofs off. Destroy walls. Steamroller the debris into a fine powder. Well this is the first time I’ve heard them pack all of that into a record. There’s not a still track though ‘Go Down’, ‘Overdose’ and ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Me’ would probably be my entries for the grand prize in the Golden Demolition Ball of Wagga Wagga heavy metal contest. No surprises, just the time honoured hard rock message: they come along and smash your feet with 10 pound hammers, you leap in the air uttering strange cries of agony and ecstacy. Presently the element of pain fades away but you stay bouncing as if the riff was a trampoline. You sweat like a pig, you smell like a sty and you feel beautiful.

AC/DC speak body language. Received and understood. Analysis is irrelevant I think but since I’m not paid to enjoy myself maybe I’d better toss a bit in. Their new licks seem to draw on American influences such as Ted Nugent and ZZ Top. The same metal gurus may have helped them to add a greater sense of space and tension to the straight power they have always had in abundance. To this end Angus Young is being less flash and the band therefore are solid, monomaniac (rock being one of the few areas of human endeavour in which that can be a virtue). And Bon Scott, indispensable character and weired lyric writer is even starting to sound like a singer. The Robert Plant school of screamers generally leaves me cold. Bon must be one of its least naturally talented pupils. We just happens to be right for AC/DC.

10 years older than the rest of the band Bon’s lived more than 4 of them put together and yet remains a maverick kid in his heart and head. Nobody could match the crass earthiness of his tributes to old acquaintenances like ‘Crabsody In Blue’ (‘and you start to scratch/when they start to hatch’) and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ (the insatiable 19 stone lady he’s been yarning about for years). They broke the master after they pressed Bon Scott.

© Phil SutcliffeSounds, 22 October 1977

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