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Blu-ray Review: AC/DC: Let There be Rock 30th Anniversary Limited Edition
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AC/DC Let There Be Rock

AC/DC: Let There Be Rock
30th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition
Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Eric Mistler, Eric Dionysius
Starring Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 7, 2011

Like them or not, the rock band AC/DC‘s influence on music cannot be denied. The three-cord jams of songs such as “Highway to Hell,” “If You want Blood (You’ve Got It,” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” continue to shape even modern rock which is so much different than that of the era of Bon Scott, AC/DC’s first (well sort of) singer.

Let There Be Rock is a classic concert film from 1979 (the last concert featuring lead singer Bon Scott who died soon after) featuring a mix of behind the scenes footage, interviews, and some other sort music video-ish set-up scenes to be played over the concert audio in various places. This film is easily one of the most successful concert films ever made, at least when it comes to truly capturing the energy of a performance. Lead guitarist Angus Young‘s onstage schoolboy-garbed antics and his sizzling blues-infused guitar solos spearhead one of the greatest rhythm sections in rock n roll history. The band blazes through classic tunes such as “Sin City,” “Highway to Hell,” “TNT,” and the title tune “Let There Be Rock” with so much energy you’ll feel like you need earplugs just to watch the movie on your television, especially when Angus decides to literally hang off one of the giant speaker cabinets on stage.

The behind the scenes set-ups for the epic show are shot in a voyeuristic almost calm manner that stands in such stark contrast than the concert the band would be putting on that night. There are roadies setting up equipment, Angus and his brother Malcolm tuning up, everyone eating together and even playing a little soccer in the stadium in front of the stage. It sounds mundane and it probably is to those that were involved, but to anyone that’s a fan of the band or a music fan in general, this is all interesting stuff and it’s nice to see it just happening rather than being staged for cameras.

AC/DC is a band of few words. They aren’t known to do many interviews mainly because they are just regular guys that like to party and play music. They aren’t activists, they’re just dudes who play guitar. The interview sequences are most often quite humorous, sometimes on purpose and other times by accident. The Q&As with lead singer Bon Scott are particularly funny mostly due to the fact that he’s obviously had a number of drinks prior to the interview. When you consider the way he eventually died, maybe it’s not so funny to see him in that condition because the world lost an amazing talent when he passed but his answers are amusing. One answer about any fears he might have about a third World War is a highlight of the humor.

Sure the music video sequences are really campy and ultimately unnecessary, but they are a fun time capsule of the era in which this film was made and seeing the band interact as friends is entertaining. During this time the band members, other than Angus, were pretty hard partiers and you get the feeling that Angus is on the sidelines a bit off the stage. Nowadays they’ve all been through rehab and cleaned up so maybe things are different for him.

TheBblu-ray is an HD transfer of the original film and it looks better than it ever has. It’s still really grainy but darker scenes are a little cleaner and colors are more crisp than previous releases of the film. The concert footage, which is really dark, is compressed and soft but still a little better than it was on the previous DVD. Basically it’s still rough but it’s the best it has ever looked and probably ever will look. The audio though is surprisingly strong. There’s the original stereo mix but there’s also a DTS Master loss-less 5.1 mix that is crisp, clean, and extremely dynamic. Low end is strong and instrument separation across the all new surround environment is fantastic. You can get just the Blu-ray or you could seek out the collectors tin which also features some lobby card replicas and a small photo book. There are five featurettes on the Blu-ray, and on the included DVD copy of the film covering the band’s influence on various musicians, a retrospective of the band’s accomplishments, a brief overview of Bon Scott’s life and career, and a featurette discussing the fact that AC/DC is one of the few bands where the lead guitar player, not the singer, is considered the leader of the band.

AC/DC: Let There Be Rock is required viewing for true fans of rock music and must be on the shelf along with Chuck Berry Hail Hail Rock n’ Roll, Metallica Some Kind of Monster, and of course the Decline of Western Civilization films for those interested in the musicians that most influenced rock music.

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