Let There Be Rock
|Let There Be Rock|
|Studio album by|
|Released||21 March 1977 (Australia)|
25 July 1977 (International)
|Recorded||January–February 1977, Albert Studios, Sydney, Australia|
|Genre||Hard rock, blues rock, rock and roll|
|Producer||Harry Vanda, George Young|
|Alternative cover art|
Original Australian cover
|Singles from Let There Be Rock|
Let There Be Rock is the fourth studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC. It was the band's third studio album released internationally and the fourth to be released in Australia. It was also the last AC/DC album to feature Mark Evans on bass. It was originally released on 21 March 1977 in Australia on the Albert Productions label. A modified international edition was released on 25 July 1977 on Atlantic Records.
In Christmas of 1976 AC/DC were at a nadir. “It was very close to being all over,“ manager Michael Browning said. “Things were progressing very well in London and Europe. We’d been through a whole thing with the Marquee where they broke all the house records. We’d done the Lock Up Your Daughters UK tour and the Reading festival. It was all shaping up really well.”  Having moved the band and their operation to London over the previous eight months - during which time their first UK album release, High Voltage, had served warning on an unsuspecting British music scene of the impending explosion of Antipodean rock coming their way - the band’s sudden absence from the domestic scene in Australia had left AC/DC’s live following there diminished. When Browning brought them back to Oz at the end of 1976 for what should have been a triumphant homecoming, they were surprised to discover that things had changed.
The young, mostly female crowd that had got to know them through regular appearances on TV shows like Countdown had deserted them in favour of stay-at-home poptastic local heroes like Skyhooks. Even the rugged, fans who populated the thriving pub and club scene that AC/DC now found themselves back playing had developed a certain grudging attitude towards a band that had “buggered off overseas”, as Browning puts it. Even their hometown crowd in Sydney was diminished: when, after their return home, the band headlined the 5,000-capacity Hordern Pavilion on December 12, the place was barely half-full.
“It was a tough tour,” Browning says. “The group didn’t want to be doing it. I copped a lot of shit for making them do it. But it was a financial necessity. We had to do it to fill the coffers up to keep doing what we were doing in England and Europe. But try explaining that to a young rock’n’roll band.” “Our grassroots guys stayed with us,” said AC/DC‘s then-bassist Mark Evans. ”But we got banned from a lot of gigs too. Angus was dropping his shorts, and we had a problem with the tour programme where there was a quote on top of my photograph which said: ‘I want to make enough money so I’ll be able to fuck Britt Ekland.’ That nearly derailed the whole tour.“ To make matters worse, Atlantic Records in the United States had rejected the band's third album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, feeling the production was not up to par, and in fact, were deciding on dropping the group from the record label entirely.
“In the middle of the tour, I get a phone call saying Atlantic Records in America didn‘t like the Dirty Deeds album,” says Browning. “That, in fact, they were going to drop the group from the label. And that’s when things got really bad.” Despite their precarious position, the band were typically bullish in their refusal to bow to the label.
“Malcolm’s attitude was the opposite. Total disregard for what Americans think. That’s been their attitude all the way along, which is what’s made them so sustainable and huge, just never ever really compromising in situations like that.”— Michael Browning
There was no question of them softening their sound to make it more palatable to the American market. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side it was decided the band should hurry back into the studio in Sydney and record a new album, before heading back to the UK. Thus, in January 1977, AC/DC entered Alberts Studios in Sydney, where all their records had been made up ’til that point, and spent two weeks recording what came to be known as Let There Be Rock.
“There was always a siege mentality about that band. But once we all found out that Atlantic had knocked us back the attitude was: ‘Fuck them! Who the fuck do they think they are?’ So from that point onwards it was: ‘Fuck, we’ll show them!’ We were seriously fucking pissed off about it. It didn’t need to be discussed. We were going to go in and make that album and shove it up their arse!”— Mark Evans
From the beginning, it appears they intended to make a statement, with guitarist Angus Young telling VH1's Behind the Music in 2000, "Me and Malcolm said, 'Well, we really want a lot of guitars,' you know? Big guitars." The band's first album released in Australia, High Voltage, had contained glam rock elements, while their ensuing releases had been recorded piecemeal as the group toured incessantly and were also altered for international release. Let There Be Rock, on the other hand, was recorded in one go and represented a major evolution in the band's sound, with many critics and fans citing it as the first true AC/DC album. In his book Highway to Hell: The Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, author Clinton Walker observes, "Let There Be Rock was the first fully rounded AC/DC album. The band had finally found itself."
Let There Be Rock was produced by the production team of George Young and Harry Vanda, who had been at the helm of the band's previous albums (George was the older brother of Angus and Malcolm). According to Murray Engelheart's band memoir AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, the album was completed in roughly a two-week time frame. Rhythm and backing tracks were all completed in the first week. Bon, who’d be given cassettes of the mixed-down, vocal-less tracks which he then “scribbled words to”, did his vocals in the second week, during which Angus also laid down his guitar solos. In addition, the band also had a new approach to recording:
Malcolm had noticed that some rock acts, particularly those on the American stadium circuit, had realised the power to be had in slightly longer songs and tapping into extended solos and general guitar hijinks...the temptation to show the competition - the emerging punks on one hand and American soft rock on the other - how rock and roll was really done was too much...The studio set-up at Albert's was perfect for what was planned. All the amps were in the same room as the drums, which were positioned in the corner. The guitar sound spilt over into the vocal and drum microphones so a perfect precision recording was difficult, but that was part of the charm.
The result was far beyond anything the band had produced before in the studio. The band replicated their live sound, with literally explosive results; as recounted in Clifton Walker's Highway to Hell, one of the most oft-repeated stories concerning AC/DC's studio methods emanates from these sessions: Angus' smoking amp during the recording of the album's final track, "Whole Lotta Rosie". As he was overdubbing the guitar solo, his amp began to fuse out and smoke began to fill the studio. George Young gestured wildly from behind the desk to keep going. "There was no way," Walker quotes the producer, "we were going to stop a shit-hot performance for a technical reason like amps blowing up!" In a 1991 interview with Guitar World, Angus recalled, "The album on which we got to do the most guitar stuff was probably Let There Be Rock. Throughout that album, there are many guitar solos and many breaks. I really like some of them very much. The song "Let There Be Rock" was unusual for me. I remember my brother, George, saying in the studio, 'C'mon Ang, let's get something different here'...I had great deal of fun on that whole album. On the last track, I remember the amp blowing up at the end. I said, 'Hey, the speakers are going!' You could see it in the studio, there was all this smoke and sparks, and the valves were glowing. He kept yelling at me, 'Keep playing, keep playing!'" Another Oz band, The Angels, had recently signed to Albert Productions and were also being produced in the studio by Vanda and Young. Drummer Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup recalls:
“It was all to do with the feel, it wasn’t about perfection. They would play the riff until George said: ‘I think you’ve got the groove there.’ That might be five minutes, it might be 10. Remember, there’s no drum machines, no click tracks, no nothing. They’d just hammer at Phil Rudd.” The only way the band knew how to record back then was simply to play as if they were doing a gig. “If Angus was recording a solo, he would be climbing all over the amps and rolling around the floor,” says Bidstrup. “That was part of what made George and Harry good producers – they could actually get the band fired up to be so excited about what they were doing that Angus would crawl around on the floor.”
It was simply one of those albums, Angus concluded, “where it was all cooking”.
According to AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, singer Bon Scott wrote the title track's lyrics in an office at Albert's with the help of a Bible from a nearby bookstore. The song provides an encapsulated, fictionalized version of the history of rock 'n' roll. Building on a line from the Chuck Berry song "Roll Over Beethoven": "... tell Tchaikovsky the news", "Let There Be Rock" reveals that Tchaikovsky did in fact receive the message and subsequently shared it with the masses, resulting in the rise of rock 'n' roll. Following rock's birth, rock bands appeared everywhere, musicians found fame (while businesses made money off their efforts), and millions of people learned how to play electric guitar. The third and final verse speaks of a "42-decibel" rock band playing good, loud music in an establishment called "The Shaking Hand". This is usually changed to "92-decibel" in live versions of the song. In addition, light is correctly introduced before sound, unlike on the studio version. After the final verse, the song ends with an extended solo by Angus, which consists mainly of fast picking, string bends, and hammer-ons. Band biographer Jesse Fink describes the song as "six-and-a-bit minutes of beauty, chaos, precision and primal fire. A music video for "Let There Be Rock" was filmed in July 1977 (see 1977 in music) in the Kirk Gallery church in Surry Hills, New South Wales and featured Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Phil Rudd, and Cliff Williams, who replaced Mark Evans as the band's bassist shortly after the Let There Be Rock album was released. This marked one of Williams' first public appearances with AC/DC. Scott was dressed as a priest and the rest of the band as altar boys, with Angus Young wearing a halo prop on his head. Towards the end of the video it shows Angus and the rest of the band jamming while he goes off on the guitar. In an alternate ending of the video, the colors are morphed and the camera zooms in on the stained glass window. According to an interview with the Young brothers, Bon Scott injured himself in the final jump from the podium. "Let There Be Rock" was also released as a single in 1978, with a live version of the Let There Be Rock album track "Dog Eat Dog" as the B-side, which had been recorded in concert in Glasgow on 30 April 1978. When AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, Scott's replacement Brian Johnson quoted the song "Let There Be Rock" in the band's acceptance speech.
"Whole Lotta Rosie" is about an obese Tasmanian woman named Rosie, with whom the singer Scott had a one-night stand at the Freeway Gardens Motel in North Melbourne. In addition to pointing out the woman's size, the singer finds her to be one of the most talented lovers he's ever experienced. The song's first verse reveals Rosie's substantial physical measurements (42"-39"-56"), and that she weighs nineteen stone (266 pounds/approximately 120 kilograms). On the Live from the Atlantic Studios disc, however, Scott describes the titular woman as "...a Tasmanian devil ...weighs 305 pounds ...," a measurement that differs from the "19 stone" lyric (305 lb being 21 st 11 lb). In 1998, speaking to Vox magazine, Angus Young remembered:
We'd been in Tasmania and after the show [Bon Scott] said he was going to check out a few clubs. He said he'd got about 100 yards down the street when he heard this yell: 'Hey! Bon!' He looked around and saw this leg and thought: 'Oh well!' From what he said, there was this Rosie woman and a friend of hers. They were plying him with drinks and Rosie said to him: 'This month I've slept with 28 famous people,' and Bon went: 'Oh yeah?!' Anyway, in the morning he said he woke up pinned against the wall, he said he opened one eye and saw her lean over to her friend and whisper: '29!' There's very few people who'll go out and write a song about a big fat lady, but Bon said it was worthy.
The song's main riff was also featured on an earlier recording with different lyrics, titled "Dirty Eyes", which saw official release on Volts, part of the Bonfire box set. "Dirty Eyes" features a different chord progression in the chorus and does not contain the "band duel" featured in "Rosie". In AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, Malcolm Young is quoted, "We were always big fans of early rock and roll, like Elvis and 'Heartbreak Hotel,' things like that - the stop-and-start things, the dynamics. If anything, for 'Whole Lotta Rosie' we were looking for a feel like Little Richard, a good steamin' rock feel, and see what we could lay on top with the guitars. It evoked that, but you're just looking for the vibe, what's exciting, and that's what we were listening to. Simple to put together, but still around like a classic."
According to the 1994 Bon Scott biography Highway to Hell, the album's opening track "Go Down" was inspired by "supergroupie" Ruby Lips.
"Overdose", which features an extended introduction that showcases the symbiotic guitar relationship between the Young brothers, was inspired by a woman named Judy King. The lyrics equate a man overdosing on a woman like an addict would overdose on drugs, with Scott singing, "You're a habit I don't want to break." Whether or not the song had any meaning beyond the metaphor is subject to speculation; by all accounts, Scott was a hard drinker and indulged in drugs. In 2013, keyboardist John Bisset of Fraternity (Scott's band before AC/DC) told Uncut's Peter Watts: "We were drinkers. We got into marijuana, mescaline and mushrooms, but alcohol was the mainstay...He drank heaps. He drank until he could barely stand. But he always remained the same person." According to Jesse Fink's book The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, former bassist Mark Evans reveals that Scott overdosed on heroin in 1975 and was nearly fired from the band: "There were some doubts about Bon at that stage. He'd had a problem or he'd had an OD very early on. It was just a dabble...Bon made a bad decision. It was only one bad decision. From what I was led to believe and came to believe, it was a very, very isolated incident."
"Dog Eat Dog", a song about humanity's cutthroat nature, was released as a single in Australia, and included the non-album track "Carry Me Home" on the B-side, which was later released on Backtracks. The band would perform the single frequently in concert, as well as the album tracks "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" and "Bad Boy Boogie", the latter accompanying Angus Young's infamous striptease routine.
The original vinyl version of the album released for international markets contained the same track list as the original Australian release but Atlantic Records removed the racy song "Crabsody in Blue" (about the problems of crabs) from later pressings of the international version. It was subsequently replaced with a shortened version of the song "Problem Child" from the Australian version of the album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, which was originally released in September 1976. "Crabsody In Blue" was later released on the box set Backtracks.
All international CD releases contain the modified track listing from the later vinyl pressings of the international version.
The Australian cover features the fingers of guitarist Chris Turner, from Australian band Buffalo. "There was a bloke called Colin Stead, who was in Buffalo for about ten minutes," Turner recalled. "He was also the centrefold photographer for Playboy. He phoned me up and said he was doing the album cover for Let There Be Rock, but AC/DC were out of town, so could I help out? He wanted a flash guitar run up and down the neck. Apparently, when he saw it, Angus said, 'He's got fat fingers, hasn't he?'"
The cover of the international version, released on 25 July 1977, marked the first appearance of the band's now iconic logo, designed by Gerard Huerta. The photograph used for the international cover was taken at a concert on 19 March 1977 at the Kursaal Ballroom, Southend, Essex, UK, by rock photographer Keith Morris. The band were on tour in England on the date of the earlier Australian release and were scheduled to perform at Hemel Hempstead Pavilion, UK, although the date was cancelled.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Reception to Let There Be Rock was generally positive; according to AllMusic, which gave the album a rating of four and a half out of five stars, AC/DC played "sweaty, dirty, nasty rock" and the band had "rarely done that kind of rock better than they did" on Let There Be Rock. In 2001, Q magazine named Let There Be Rock as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time.
Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic enthuses, "Let There Be Rock sees AC/DC's religious-like respect for the simple art of making rock & roll brought to its logical conclusion: a veritable gospel to the glory of rock, canonized here in hymn-like worship. The near-epic title track to what is widely regarded as the best Bon Scott-era album, the song is a holy testimony, bringing good news to all those who believe in the healing power of rock & roll - amen! Oh yeah, it also kicks unholy ass!" David Fricke of Rolling Stone wrote of the album in a 2008 cover story, "AC/DC's early albums were perfectly frenetic, but inconsistent. Their second U.S. LP was almost all killer. Scott sings 'Bad Boy Boogie' and 'Problem Child' like he's the enfant terrible...Angus' solos are true white heat." Amazon.com calls the LP "a break from the early 'novelty' approach to songwriting and a move to the more focused album-oriented view that the band would perfect." In 2006, AC/DC biographer Murray Engleheart wrote that Let There Be Rock "elevated AC/DC to the status of an album band, something that had previously been the exclusive domain of the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin." In 2000, Angus Young recalled to Guitar World that producer Mutt Lange once told him "of all the many albums we'd done with my brother George and his partner, Harry Vanda, the one Mutt wished he would have done, where he was envious of George, was Let There Be Rock." Band biographer Jesse Fink writes, "Wherever AC/DC ended up in the annals of rock history, this album would stand for all time as an expression of their unrivaled might as a guitar band."
|2.||"Dog Eat Dog"||3:35|
|3.||"Let There Be Rock"||6:06|
|4.||"Bad Boy Boogie"||4:27|
|6.||"Crabsody in Blue"||4:44|
|7.||"Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be"||4:14|
|8.||"Whole Lotta Rosie"||5:24|
|2.||"Dog Eat Dog"||3:35|
|3.||"Let There Be Rock"||6:06|
|4.||"Bad Boy Boogie"||4:27|
|3.||"Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be"||4:14|
|4.||"Whole Lotta Rosie"||5:24|
- Track 5, "Problem Child", was originally released on Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in 1976. This is a shortened version of the original, missing the reprise coda.
- For the original vinyl release, in all markets other than the USA, Canada and Japan, "Crabsody in Blue" was featured instead of "Problem Child".
- Bon Scott – lead vocals
- Angus Young – lead guitar
- Malcolm Young – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Mark Evans – bass guitar
- Phil Rudd – drums, percussion
- Producers: Harry Vanda, George Young
- Engineer: Mark Opitz
- Mastering supervisor: Michael Fraser, Al Quaglieri
- Mastering: George Marino
- Digital assembly: Eugene Nastasi
- Art direction: Bob Defrin
- Artwork by Richard Ford
- Cover Lettering by Gerard Huerta
- Liner notes: Murray Engleheart
|Australian Albums Chart||19|
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||10|
|French Albums Chart||9|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||42|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||37|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||29|
|Swiss Albums Chart||12|
|UK Albums Chart||17|
|US Billboard 200||154|
|Australia (ARIA)||5× Platinum||350,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||2,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Wall, Mick. "Let There Be Rock: The album that saved AC/DC's career". Loudersound. Loudersound.
- Fink 2013, p. 163.
- Daniels, Neil; Scott, Bon. AC/DC - The Early Years. ISBN 9781906191245.
- Video Footage and Liner Notes, Family Jewels 2-Disc DVD Set 2005
- Bon Scott Interview, Bonfire Box Set, Disc 4
- Ewing, Jerry. VOX, February 1998. Albums. Re-issues. Blazer of Glory. AC/DC - Bonfire (EMI). P. 78
- Wall, Mick (May 2012). "Let there be light! Let there be sound! Let there be rock!". Classic Rock #170. p. 42.
- "AC/DC Tour History - 19 Mar. 1977 Southend (Kursaal Ballroom)". www.ac-dc.net. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Let There Be Rock -AC/DC". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
- "AC/DC: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "AC/DC: Album Guide". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- "In our Lifetime #2". Rocklist.co.uk. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- Fink 2013, p. 148.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – AC/DC – Let There Be Rock" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
- "Charts.org.nz – AC/DC – Let There Be Rock". Hung Medien.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – AC/DC – Let There Be Rock". Hung Medien.
- "Swedishcharts.com – AC/DC – Let There Be Rock". Hung Medien.
- "AC/DC Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2013 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association.
- "French album certifications – AC/DC – Let There Be Rock" (in French). InfoDisc. Select AC/DC and click OK.
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (AC/DC; 'Let There Be Rock')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
- "British album certifications – AC/DC – Let There Be Rock". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Let There Be Rock in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American album certifications – AC/DC – Let There Be Rock". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.
- Lyrics on AC/DC's official website