Let There Be Rock (Blu-Ray)
Warner Brothers, 2011
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/28/2011
When I first got into AC/DC in the mid-‘80s, I was thrilled to learn that a movie featuring the late Bon Scott had once been released. Once I got my hands on a copy of Let There Be Rock, I watched it enough times where I damn near wore out one VHS copy. Yet, as technology moved forward and people ditched their VCRs for DVDs and Blu-Ray players, this 1980 film remained frozen in time… until now.
Let There Be Rock finally has seen the digital light of day – and while the performances from that night in Paris, just a few short months before the death of Scott, still shine today, some chinks in the armor – some old, some new – have appeared.
For starters – I sure as hell don’t remember either a narrator telling me how much gear AC/DC was using on this tour, or a laundry list of cities that the Highway To Hell tour had visited. So, hearing a narrator – apparently the same person conducting the interviews – talking about this is, to me, an intrusion on my memories of this film. Likewise, there definitely was not crowd noise pumped in over the Angus Young guitar solo that plays in the title credits. If I could turn both of these annoyances off, I would… but I haven’t found a way to do so yet.
While I’m complaining, whoever came up with the bonus features for this set needs to be drawn and quartered. Every single bonus is essentially an interview with an author (such as Anthony Bozza) or a musician, almost all of whom probably never met Bon Scott. There is zero – zero!!! – input from members of AC/DC, which to me is criminal. I’d have greatly preferred watching some documentary about Scott’s life, or hearing from people like Angus and Malcolm Young regarding their memories of Scott. Or, for that matter, they could have negotiated with VH-1 to include the “Behind The Music” episode that featured AC/DC. Simply put, the bonus features are an incredible waste of time.
Now, then… the remainder of Let There Be Rock, narration from the interviewer and piped-in crowd noise aside, is exactly as I remember it. Featured onstage in
Audio-wise, this has never been the most pristine example of the live concert film – and the Blu-Ray release doesn’t do much, if anything, to try and correct that. This, however, is more of a limitation of the source material – and, if anything, the rawness of the audio almost adds a layer of charm to the film.
It has been said that the interview segments of this movie are insipid, daring to ask asinine questions like preparing for the Third World War instead of getting any insight from the band on their music. Likewise, the live-action sequences, such as Phil Rudd’s racing a plane that is made to look like Cliff Williams flying it, revert back to the dream sequences of Led Zeppelin’s concert film The Song Remains The Same – but, with the exception of during “Walk All Over You,” they don’t interfere with the concert experience.
Is there anything to be gained by choosing the Blu-Ray over the DVD version? Truth is, I don't know - even though my deluxe copy included both, I chose to watch it on Blu-Ray. If the only benefit is the "special features," then I'd advise you to stick to the DVD. (The deluxe copy comes with a few other bonuses, such as a booklet - which was kind of fun to read, postcards featuring pictures from the concert and a guitar pick, all packaged in a numbered tin.)
Let There Be Rock was unintentionally the swansong for Scott, and remains a poignant portrait of both the singer and of AC/DC, right before fate played out its cruel hand. It is a welcome addition to the digital world, and it is great to see it again after all these years without having to lug out my VCR… but for such an anticipated release, it just feels like more attention could have been paid to the bonuses. And, unless I was watching a foreign cut of the film, it’d be nice to have the option