Spreading the gospel of Chuck Berry

By Sergio Ariza

In early 1977 AC/DC already had 3 albums under their belts but it would be their 4th where they would find their winning formula, their own hard sound, one  that they would etch in stone and be faithful to the rest of their career. Malcolm Young had taken a step back to focus on the rhythm and left the spotlight to his brother Angus, as you can see on the album cover. The younger Young was going to make this record the perfect showcase for his explosive solos and the band would deliver a marvelous powerful, dirty and sweaty rock sound, a sound that could be the definition itself of rock & roll.   

And it is this AC/DC sound that has been called many things, even in 1977 there were those who aligned (incorrectly) them with the thriving punk scene, but as they themselves said, what they do is basic rock & roll. No wonder in the title song Bon Scott picks up the lyrics of Roll Over Beethoven where Chuck Berry had left off, to show Tchaikovsky spreading the gospel of rock. The Aussies were clear about what they were and what they were not, they may not have invented the wheel (for that they counted on Berry) but they made it spin better than anyone else.

From the moment the riff on Go Down begins to the overwhelming solo Whole Lotta Rosie closes with (where Angus’ amp ended up literally smoking), Let There Be Rock is an overpowering non-stop rock machine, the ballads and the slower tempos were left to others. It’s only rock & roll but the Aussies liked it.

The 2 clear anthems of the album are the title cut and the unstoppable Whole Lotta Rosie, Bon Scott’s ode to an obese lover, played with the usual precision by the Young brothers, with an eye here on Little Richard, but any one of the other 7 songs are worth a master’s degree on the raw sound of the band. A sound based on 2 guitars, Malcolm’s  Gretsch Jet Firebird that laid the foundations and Angus’ 1968 SG Standard that put the cherry on top. Their sound is notorious and 100% recognisable, you know each and every chord Malcolm plays you can tell it’s his and every note by Angus seems ready to follow the highway to hell. On this basis Scott sings his heart out about the three things that interested him most, sex, drugs, (mainly liquor) and a lot of rock & roll.   

The album was released on March 21 in Australia and to the world on the 25th of July. Crabsody in Blue, one of the bluesier songs on the list, was a great number with good guitar work by both Young brothers, especially the tuned-in Angus, but it was also the weakest piece on the record and the only one in which they step, slightly, on the brake. So it’s no surprise that on the global version of the record it was replaced by the tremendous Problem Child, from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.   

The band had found itself, and there was no-one to stop them, in the following albums they would polish the formula until they would find perfection with Back in Black. However, Let There Be Rock was the record on which AC/DC became AC/DC, in so much as the first record to show their legendary logo, synonymous with high octane rock & roll. Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news.