SUSAN MASINO – Let There Be Rock: The Story of AC/DC (Updated Edition)
Noted rock journalist Susan Masino has written some very cool books revolving around Hank Williams, KISS, and Van Halen, but the one that we shall discuss and focus on here is an updated edition of her work on AC/DC that the ever-awesome Omnibus Press published quite recently.
The chronicle of the marvelous AC/DC is obviously a rather and convoluted one that involves a long line of legendary and pioneering albums, numerous line-up changes, deaths, gigantic tours, and wicked riffs. The great thing about Masino’s 299-page literary excursion into the wild and fiery world of one of the biggest and most important rock ensembles of all time is that it is full of enthusiasm and love for the subject matter. In that sense, this is an inspired read and you can easily tell that she is a die-hard fan of the boys. In short, the author’s account of what makes AC/DC such an exceptional collective of musicians is both interesting and enjoyable, and she does have a rather unique perspective on the band in that she has met and hung out with them on numerous occasions in the past. There is a palpable sense of devotion to (and respect for) Angus, Malcolm, Phil, and the others present in “Let There Be Rock”, which is charming. Most recollections are humorous and heartwarming, and in general I like the positive, upbeat tone of the entire affair. The story unfolds chronologically, which is to say that we move from one album-and-tour-cycle to the next and so on and so forth through the entire web of kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll that is AC/DC. The piece offers a structured, straightforward overview of the band’s career and this would be a good place to start if you are new to the outfit and keen to learn more about their impressive body of work and its massive influence on fans, critics, and other bands and artists throughout the years.
Having said all the above, “Let There Be Rock” does suffer from one major flaw and this is where my main gripe with the book lies; there is close to no critical analysis present in it, which is to say that there is absolutely no questioning of the band’s methods and maneuvers throughout the years. There is no discussion of the quality (or lack of quality in some cases) of their songs and records, which is quite odd, really. Every lover of hard rock and AC/DC knows that these hugely skilled guys have churned out some rather lackluster outputs from time to time and written countless tunes that have not stood the test of time well. Some of their decisions and moves over the years have also been somewhat questionable. The one-sided, unbalanced view is frustrating at times and this entails that Masino’s narrative feels incomplete and slightly one-dimensional. Not every damn tune that AC/DC has recorded is a stone cold classic and as cool as these dudes are, they are not beyond reproach or criticism. “Let There Be Rock” fails with respect to that.
Overall, I had expected a bit more from this one and I cannot help feeling let-down by its "one-sidedness". However, the ardent fans of AC/DC definitely ought to check it out due to the many anecdotes revolving around Masino’s own experiences and encounters with the group since 1977, but despite those splendid entries in the book, it never truly feels as if one gets close to or underneath the skin of the entire AC/DC machinery. Well-written, informative, and laced with a cheerful tone, but neither the most insightful nor riveting piece of literature on the act in existence. There are other and better alternatives out there if you wish to gain a deeper understanding of the epic musical entity that is AC/DC and its many shades, nuances, triumphs, failures, and layers.