Thirty years ago in Paris, France, Bon Scott was filmed giving his final performance as AC/DC vocalist, charismatic front man, and rock legend. Originally released in 1980 as the concert film "Let There Be Rock", Warner Bros. now releases the 30th anniversary edition in both Blu-ray and DVD, including a "Limited Collector's Edition," the subject of this review.
The digitally remastered performance film, which includes an hour's worth of bonus features, is packaged in a steel case with AC/DC guitar pick, an informative 32-page tribute called "Why AC/DC Matters" (Anthony Bozza), and 10 collector cards. It is well worth the $39.99 list price, regardless of one's need for collector cards and pick. Featured is the second of two shows on a day in which Bon Scott had come down with laryngitis that very morning, an affliction that did nothing to affect his commanding performance. The show from the band's European tour in support of 1979 breakout album "Highway To Hell", one supported by JUDAS PRIEST, is vintage AC/DC in the sense that it occurred with Bon Scott at the helm on the eve of what would become world domination. Yet if you compare it to a performance captured 30 years later on the "Live at River Plate" DVD, you'll understand that this is the exact same group of musicians with Brian Johnson in place of Bon Scott, performing with the same verve and tightness, but without the stage props and pyrotechnic and in front of 10,000 fans instead of 80-90,000. That fact attests to the band's consistency, work ethic, and great songs, no matter the era or the current musical trend. As such, it is no shock that AC/DC deafened and destroyed that evening, tearing through songs like "Live Wire", "Sin City", "T.N.T.", "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be", and several cuts from "new" album "Highway To Hell", including "Girls Got Rhythm" and "Walk All Over You", the latter featuring a video of Cliff Williams' and Bon Scott's bi-plane shenanigans. Angus Young's now famous striptease during an extended section of "Bad Boy Boogie" is a hoot. Beginning with behind-the-scenes footage of the crew assembling the stage and interspersed with band member interviews, "Let There Be Rock" documents a pivotal moment in AC/DC history, one that would be considered a crossroads if it weren't for that fact that the band never compromised its ideals nor its electric hard rock, and kept moving forward with the same determination after Scott's death several months later.
The bonus features are worthwhile, if for no other reason than they tell us what we already know: AC/DC was, is, and forever will be a unique entity that impacted the lives of millions and inspired many to pick up a guitar and form bands with a similar loud 'n' proud ethos. The interviews with icons like Scott Ian (ANTHRAX), Rick Allen (DEF LEPPARD). Billy Corgan (SMASHING PUMPKINS), and Lemmy Kilmister (MOTÖRHEAD), and journalists like Eddie Trunk do less to inform than reinforce the facts of that profound impact. "Let There Be Rock" is the ultimate Bon Scott tribute and an essential purchase for fans.
- Scott Alisoglu