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Music Blu-ray Review: AC/DC: Let There Be Rock

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In December of 1979 AC/DC rolled into Paris, France with two tour buses, two semi-trailers, twenty tons of equipment, 300,000 watts of lights, a 30,000-watt PA system, and 14 roadies. The Paris concert was a part of the band’s Highway to Hell world tour. Two months later AC/DC’s lead singer, Bon Scott, died, leaving the Paris concert to serve as the last professionally filmed concert of him performing with the band. Let There Be Rock was originally released theatrically in September of 1980.

The film is primarily concert footage with bits of interviews and behind-the-scenes clips woven throughout. The first several minutes of the film show the band coming into town on their buses and the road crew building their stage. It’s a meandering look at the contrast between subdued life on the bus and the band’s raucous stage show. The interview segments provide some interesting insights from the band on their lives at the time, but the best parts of Let There Be Rock is the concert footage. The band energetically move through many of their classics like “Highway to Hell,” “Live Wire,” “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and the titular “Let There Be Rock.” 

By today’s standards the stage show is underwhelming in special effects. Lighting is minimal, and there are no pyrotechnics, extra stage platforms, or even additional musicians. It’s just the guys in the band rocking out to the fullest. Fans of AC/DC will certainly not be disappointed in this film, however. The band is certainly at their best here. Bon Scott sounds great, Angus Young is impressive with his guitar soloing and all around stage presence, and the rest of the band provides a thunderous rhythm that gives AC/DC their signature sound. 

Given the limitations of the original source material the picture presentation is good. The AVC encoded 1080p presentation is 1.37:1. The concert itself is pretty dark, and given the technology of the time, the footage looks a little grainy and soft. The interview sequences look better, much sharper and clear. Let There Be Rock looks very much like a movie of its time. Really this film should be looked at as a preservation piece. I doubt it could really get any better than it is.

The most important feature of a concert film is the sound and the sound for Let There Be Rock is great. It’s presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The low end sounds crisp and clean, the individual instruments can clearly be heard, and the singing is sharp. There are times when Scott’s lead vocal is a little hard to hear over the other instruments, but that is likely inherent in the original mix.

There are many special features included in this box set. The packaging itself is a hinged steelbox with an embossed cover. Inside the box there is also a DVD copy of the film as well as a foldout cardboard case, a booklet with an essay about the band by Anthony Bozza, a guitar pick inscribed with an image of Angus Young, and an evelope of ten cardstock glossy photos and promotional material. The Blu-ray itself includes several documentaries including one about the life of Bon Scott. There are also “Pods,” which are snippets of various musicians talking about some of the individual songs that appear in the film.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.