AC/DC: Let There Be Rock - Limited Collector's Edition

  • Reviewed by: Dr Adam Jahnke
  • Review Date: Jun 10, 2011
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Eric Dionysius, Eric Mistler

Release Date(s)

1980 (June 7, 2011)

Studio(s)

Warner Bros.

Review

Whenever I add a title to the JET’s Most Wanted album on Facebook, I try to be optimistic about its chances of making it to disc.  But if the title in question is a concert film, I figure it’s a good idea not to hold my breath.  After all, it isn’t as though there are a lot of concert films out there.  If one hasn’t made it to disc by now, there are probably some pretty thorny issues to be resolved, whether they’re technical, legal, or personal (I’m looking at you, Paul and Ringo).

I was pleasantly surprised when Warner Bros. announced the release of AC/DC: Let There Be Rock, arriving in true rock star fashion just slightly late to its own 30th anniversary party.  The movie documents the band at their peak, performing in Paris in 1979 just a few months before lead singer Bon Scott passed away at the age of 33.

The concert is electrifying, with Angus Young given ample opportunity to showcase his signature Chuck-Berry-meets-epilepsy performance style.  Angus and Bon are in sync throughout.  It’s impossible to imagine a single member of this audience wasn’t on their feet throughout the show.  While much of the performance is understandably the Bon and Angus Show, the cameras do make an effort to single out Malcolm Young, Phil Rudd, and Cliff Williams as well.

While the concert footage is spectacular, the rest of the movie doesn’t quite level up.  The interview segments with the band are every bit as low-key as the concert is high-octane.  It’s more than a little jarring to cut from an explosive performance of “The Jack” to a shot of Bon lounging around on a bed, answering questions.  It doesn’t help that the interviewer’s voice has been dubbed by a mellow-sounding American more suited to voiceovers for Folger’s commercials.  Some nice off-stage moments are captured but for the most part, you just want them to hurry up and get back to the music.

Warner Bros. has pulled out the stops for this release, presenting the movie in a limited edition Blu-ray/DVD combo that comes packaged in an individually numbered, amp-shaped metal tin.  The BD looks fairly good, presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, although things do get a bit dark and murky from time to time.  Of course, it’s the audio that really matters here and the disc delivers, offering up both the original 2.0 stereo and a new DTS-HD 5.1 mix (the 5.1 applies only to the concert footage, not the interview segments).  This isn’t a movie to be played at a low volume and the 5.1 knocks you up against the wall with thudding bass and a clean, crisp mix that lets you appreciate every instrument.  The AC/DC faithful will be thrilled.

The disc includes over 90 minutes of featurettes interviewing authors and musicians (including Billy Corgan, Scott Ian, Lemmy, and many others) about the history and legacy of the band.  Very little of it deals specifically with the film but that’s fine, since most of the material is compelling enough in its own right.  The featurettes conclude with specific analysis of six AC/DC songs, with both appreciations and interesting stories about how the songs were written.  The BD adds an interactive feature allowing you to build your own playlist, because of course you know how the songs should be sequenced better than the band or the filmmakers did.  The limited edition tin also includes an excellent 32-page book of liner notes by Anthony Bozza (author of Why AC/DC Matters) and the usual tsotchkes included in sets like this: 10 collector cards and a souvenir guitar pick.

Fans of AC/DC have waited a long time for Let There Be Rock to arrive on disc and most probably would have been happy with a bare-bones release as long as it sounded good.  The fact that Warner went the extra mile and really put some effort into this disc is a real treat and a tribute to the lasting appeal of this seminal rock band.

- Dr. Adam Jahnke

 

 

 

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In 50 years or so, the @Criterion edition of The Interview will make a nice bookend with The Great Dictator.

by Adam Jahnke