Def Leppard

Rick Savage (bass), Pete Willis (guitars) and Tony Kenning (drums) formed the band "Atomic Mass" in 1977 as students at Tapton School in Sheffield. Joe Elliott auditioned for a spot as their guitarist following a chance meeting with Willis. However, during Elliott's audition it was decided that he was better suited for the role of lead singer. Soon afterwards they adopted the name Deaf Leopard, which Elliott had thought of in his school days. At the suggestion of Tony Kenning, the name was modified to Def Leppard. The band added guitarist Steve Clark in January 1978. The band was born during the beginnings of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement. Def Leppard released their first self financed EP in 1978 when the band members were yet teenagers. With the release of their first full length release "On Through the Night" the band began to rocket out of obscurity. The album had an accessible, undeniably British sound, yet was still very much heavy metal. Tracks such as "Rock Brigade" and "Rocks Off" received a decent amount of radio play on rock radio, as well as the metal specialty shows at the time. By the time of their next album, "High And Dry", they had shifted producers and started developing a more commercialized, pop-metal sound that would become even more glossy and commercial on the follow-up "Pyromania". "Pyromania" and "Hysteria" proved massively successful helping Def Leppard to become one of the the top selling rock bands of the 1980ís, having sold 70 million albums worldwide. At the same time the band drew ire from longtime metal fans who found their new recordings far too commercial, polished and poppy. When describing their 1987 release, "Hysteria", Martin Poppoff in his book "The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal" described Def Leppard as "one of the most pathetic sell-outs in the history of the world Part 1..." Despite their massive commercial success, the band has suffered many loses as well. On December 31, 1984, while driving under the influence of alcohol, drummer Rick Allen endured an off-road accident in his Corvette near Sheffield, UK. He was thrown from the car and his left arm was severed due to his seatbelt not being completely engaged. Despite attempts by doctors to reattach it, infection set in, and the arm had to be reamputated. However, the band continues to record and tour with Rick behind the kit. On January 8, 1991 founding member Steve Clark died of respiratory failure due to a mixture of anti-depressants, painkillers and alcohol with no evidence of suicidal intent. Tesla wrote a song that same year dedicated to Steve Clark called "Song and Emotion". Despite the tragedies, Def Leppard continued to tour and record through the 1990's in the new millennium.

First Strike Def Leppard - The Def Leppard EP/First Strike (bootleg) 1979

The Def Leppard EP
1. "Ride Into the Sun" (2:50)
2. "Getcha Rocks Off" (3:34)
3. "Overture" (7:37)
First Strike
4. "Heat Street" (2:50)
5. "Answer to the Master" (3:21)
6. "See The Lights" (3:35)
7. "When The Wall Came Tumbling Down" (3:47)
8. "Wasted" (3:27)
9. "Sorrow Is A Woman" (3:49)
10. "Glad I'm Alive" (4:07)

Once upon a time, Def Leppard weren't a glossy pop band, they were a real New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. The Def Leppard EP is raw, raunchy heavy metal from a band that was young and hungry. Good stuff. It's a shame they didn't pursue this style rather than going down Mutt Lange's road to pop. Of course, many of these songs were re-recorded for "On Through the Night" but these versions are vastly different. Nothing they did after these songs would have that same intensity. In anycase, didn't even know this disc existed until recently. (thanks Randy)

On Through The Night Def Leppard - On Through the Night (Mercury) 1980

1. "Rock Brigade" (3:09)
2. "Hello America" (3:27)
3. "Sorrow is a Woman" (3:54)
4. "It Could Be You" (2:33)
5. "Satellite" (4:28)
6. "When the Walls Came Tumbling Down" (4:44)
7. "Wasted" (3:45)
8. "Rocks Off" (3:42)
9. "It Don't Matter" (3:21)
10. "Answer to the Master" (3:13)
11. "Overture" (7:44)

On Through the Night LP cover.
Def Leppard

One of the biggest hopefuls of the NWOBHM bands, and certainly one of the best debut albums to come from that movement. Def Leppard's debut matched the greatness of bands like Maiden and Saxon. (WOW! Did I just commit blasphemy or what?) I actually bought this album around the time "High & Dry" came out and was impressed at the time. Unfortunately Def Leppard became one of the biggest sellouts to come out of the NWOBHM movement. Def Leppard come from Sheffield and their sound derived from a mixture of 70's British heavy metal (UFO, Lizzy, Priest) and glam of bands like T.Rex, Sweet, and Mott the Hoople. Their debut was well recorded and featured some killer heavy metal anthems. Thankfully it did not yet include the terrible radio-pop elements, or syrupy ballads that would soon destroy this band. Despite this they still had lots of radio hits: "Rock Brigade", "Rocks Off", "Hello America", and "Wasted". Picked up this CD in the used bins for $5.99.

Hih 'n' Dry Def Leppard - High 'n' Dry (Mercury) 1981

1. "Let it Go" (4:43)
2. "Another Hit and Run" (4:59)
3. "High 'N' Dry (Saturday Night)" (3:27)
4. "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" (4:34)
5. "Switch 625" [instrumental] (3:03)
6. "You Got Me Runnin'" (4:23)
7. "Lady Strange" (4:39)
8. "On Through the Night" (5:06)
9. "Mirror, Mirror" (4:08)
10. "No No No" (3:13)
11. "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" [remix] (4:33)
12. "Me & My Wine" [remix] (3:40)

Steve Clark, Joe Elliot, Rick Savage, Pete Willis, Rick Allen

Def Leppard's second platter is still classy heavy metal, although this time around much more slickly produced thanks to producer Mutt Lange who also produced slick commercial successes for AC/DC (and more recently his gorgeous wife Shania Twain). As with many of his other projects, this Def Leppard album took off with hits like "Let It Go" and especially the incredibly hooky ballad "Bringin' on the Heartbreak." However, despite the nature of "Bringin' on the Heartbreak", the music was still quite heavy for it's time and retained that British metal sound. The non-single version of the ballad is tacked together with a heavy instrumental rocker titled "Switch 625". For those who are just the right age and grew up with this record, the two songs cannot be separated.

With the improved production and the perfect blend of raw rock and roll and catchy songwriting, the band ended up getting some heavy MTV rotation, which in turn gained them a much larger audience. Unfortunately this success went to their head and thus began the rapid downward spiral from real rock 'n' roll into radio pop. "High 'n' Dry" was the last Def Leppard album to feature Pete Willis on guitar, whose killer playing seemed to be one of the key ingredients that made Def Leppard rock so hard in the early days.

After the huge success of 'Pyromania' Mercury Records re-released the band's second NWOBHM classic 'High 'n' Dry" with two bonus tracks; a remixed versions of "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" and a heavy cut called "Me & My Wine." As far as I can tell, this is the first time this song was released on CD. Previously it had been released as a b-side single to "Bringin'  on the Heartbreak". I should also mention that for some odd reason Mercury Records felt it necessary to take this version of the disc out of print, so consequent pressings only have the original ten songs. Apparently this has made this CD version  a hot seller of eBay for years to come.

While I'm ranting I also must add that few bands have pissed me off more than this one. I remember reading an interview with Joe Elliot about Def Leppard long after their climb to success started to spiral downward, sometime around 1995-96. At that time they were hyping their new album "Slang" which was one of the biggest pieces of crap they ever released. In any case, what angered me was reading Elliot claiming they were "never really a heavy metal band." How ridiculous. Their first two albums and to a lesser extent "Pyromania," were huge heavy metal platters. They, along with Saxon, Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head, etc. WERE the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. They rode the Heavy Metal train while it was popular, but once in the mid-90's it became 'uncool' to play metal, all of the sudden Mr. Elliot says, they never were?!?! If it was not bad enough that they had become the biggest radio whores of the 80's, now they were actually denying their past. How can they deny what they were? How pathetic! I wrote a song inspired by this called "Never" which was recorded on Ultimatum's "Puppet of Destruction".

I've always wondered what the song title "Switch 625" meant. I received this reply from a reader:
While designing the sleeve for "High 'N' Dry", the songs weren't finished yet. So, instead of putting existing song titles on the back, fake titles were written down, including the running times of the songs. One of those (imaginary) titles was "Switch", lasting 6 minutes and 25 seconds. The band liked the way it looked on the sleeve: "Switch (6:25)". Since they didn't have a title for an instrumental song that Steve (Clark) wrote, they used this title for it.

Pyromania Def Leppard - Pyromania (Vertigo) 1983

1. Rock! Rock! (Til You Drop) (3:53)
2. Photograph (4:12)
3. Stagefright (3:46)
4. Too Late for Love (4:30)
5. Die Hard the Hunter (6:17)
6. Foolin' (4:32)
7. Rock of Ages (4:09)
8. Comin' Under Fire (4:20)
9. Action! Not Words (3:52)
10. Billy's Got a Gun (5:27)

Steve Clark & Joe Elliot

Ahhh, and the degradation that began on 'High 'n' Dry' goes even further on this disc. The former Thin Lizzy cover band hit it big time with "Pyromania". While still riding the fence between heavy metal and hard rock, the way over-polished production on this disc totally ruined what could have been some pretty heavy tracks. Fake as can be, overproduced layered vocals, electronic sounding drums, and way to much attention paid to detail that stripped the rock 'n' roll right out of the NWOBHM band, compliments of Mutt Lange (later married to and producing for Shania Twain).

Despite my disdain for how this band went progressively downhill after their ground breaking debut, "Pyromania" really isn't the total waste of plastic that I make it out to be. There are plenty of rockers on here, although there are just as many MTV super hits as well. There is no denying the immediate catchiness of tracks like "Rock Rock (Till You Drop)" and the melodic "Photograph". Both were hits for the band. Actually, "Photograph", "Rock of Ages" and "Foolin'" all became top 40 pop singles in the States. "Stagefright" is a steady rocker that would have worked well on "High 'n' Dry". Though they weren't big hits from the album, "Die Hard the Hunter" and "Billy's Got a Gun" are standout tracks as well. "Die Hard the Hunter" builds from a mellow, melodic intro to a straight-forward hard rock song and "Billy's Got a Gun" is just a straight-forward hard rocker with big, layered background vocals.

Despite the slick production, "Pyromania" was the last Def Leppard album that i found enjoyable and it's my least favorite of their first three albums. Of course, some ten million people disagree with me. By 1988 "Pyromania" had already gone platinum seven times over. However, as we all know, the amount of album sales must equal the quality of the music, right? Yeah, right! What this album represents to me, is the last bit of rock and roll left in this band before the odious decline to the putrid Muzak that is "Hysteria".

A bit of trivia: "Pyromania" represents the last album for original guitarist Pete Willis, who was ultimately canned for excessive alcohol abuse. The album was partially recorded with Willis, whose rhythm guitar tracks appear on all songs. Willis was replaced by former Girl guitarist Phil Collen, who contributed guitar solos to the album.

Rock of Ages Def Leppard - Rock of Ages (Vertigo) 1983

1. Rock of Ages
2. Action! Not Words

12" inch collectible single featuring two songs from the "Pyromania" record. Nothing more than a collectible for the vinyl fanatic.

Hysteria Def Leppard - Hysteria (Mercury) 1987

1.    Women  (5:41)
2.    Rocket  (6:34)
3.    Animal  (4:02)
4.    Love Bites  (5:46)
5.    Pour Some Sugar on Me  (4:25)
6.    Armageddon It  (5:21)
7.    Gods of War  (6:32)
8.    Don't Shoot Shotgun  (4:10)
9.    Run Riot  (4:38)
10.  Hysteria  (5:49)
11.  Excitable  (4:19 )
12.  Love and Affection  (4:35)

With Def Leppard's fourth studio album the former English hard rock/heavy metal band jumped head long into bubblegum pop. The album is a plastic as can be. Three years in the making, "Hysteria" is all about studio tricks; layers of vocals, processed guitars, tons of studio effects, etc. High gloss and completely tasteless, "Hysteria" is devoid of life whatsoever! It is the album that most fans of hard rock and heavy metal point to as the band's biggest commercial sellout. Yes, yes, I know, the official line of reasoning is, "we've always been fans of pop, we were never really a heavy metal band, blah, blah, blah." Whatever! They sure didn't mind gracing the covers of all the heavy metal rags when it was serving their purpose. Whatever the excuse is, Joe Elliot's vocals, when he is actually singing by himself, are the only bits of humanity left on this misuse of studio technology. "Hysteria" is, in my opinion, one of the worst "rock" albums ever recorded. I'd have a hard time calling this "hard rock", no less "hair metal" or "pop metal" as it is commonly tagged. As a pop album, it's actually quite catchy and I can understand the mass appeal. However, songs like "Pour Some Sugar On Me" are just plain embarrassing. Though it's not politically correct to say so, that song is about as gay as a song can get. I mean, c'mon, no guy should ever sing the lines, "I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet". What an insult to anyone's intelligence. But hey, the strip clubs of the world needed another song for girls to swing around polls to. Right? But wait, I did hear a bit of guitar on "Run Riot" and maybe on "Woman". Are there still traces of the rock and roll band that once was? Nahhhh, it's all synthesized, processed bubblegum pop. I sometimes wonder how much of this album was influenced by a similarly successful and glossy studio album titled "The Final Countdown."

I will give the album credit for being incredibly catchy radio pop. There is no doubt that these songs are made for the radio to please the masses. Even the band admits that they were going for pop hits here, as opposed to heavy metal or hard rock. As well, the album was a huge influences for years to follow as hordes of record labels and bands attempted to capture this sound after it's release. Whether that influence is a good thing or not is purely a matter of opinion. As a matter of fact, it's all opinion.

Ahhh, but obviously my opinion is complete hogwash. I mean, the album is their biggest selling album to date, selling over 20 million copies worldwide, and spawning at least six hit singles. The album went 12x platinum in the United States alone. You couldn't go anywhere in the Fall of 1987 and not hear this album blasting from radios and jukeboxes. It was monumentally everywhere, and is still in regular rotation on pop and rock radio. For some reason people seem to equate number of records sold with "quality or music". Frankly, I don't get that line of reasoning. How many millions of albums did Milli Vanilli sell? However, despite my utter distaste for the fact that Def Leppard turned the back on heavy metal, millions of people love and cherish this album.

There seems to be two vehemently opposing camps when it comes to "Hysteria". One camp makes the claim that it is one of the greatest rock records ever recorded. A quick check on-line reveals comments like, "every track is a masterpiece", "one of the greatest heavy metal albums", "without a doubt one of the best rock albums of all time...PERIOD", "one of the finest rock/metal albums ever assembled",  "facts don't lie, this album is great", "by far the best melodic hard rock album ever made", "undoubtedly the best piece of work by ANY artist, period! ","Pour Some Sugar is one of the five best songs ever written...", "Hysteria is THE Def Leppard album...". etc. These are all quotes that I copied and pasted from sites like HeavyHarmonies, sleazeroxx and Amazon. Some fans will defend this album to the hilt and will even get angry if you disagree. I am of the opposite camp and have always thought that "Hysteria" is plastic pop and devoid of life. For expressing that opinion, I have been called just about every name in the book and have been told that I am "ignorant" and "not a true fan of rock". I find it completely bizarre that people can't recognize an opinion for what it is, just an opinion.

Listen to what you like and ignore the rest!

A bit of trivia about "Hysteria", a the time of the LP's release, this was the longest rock album ever released as a single album clocking in at just under 63 minutes long (62 minutes 52 seconds). According to Wikipedia, Deep Purple's hits album "Deepest Purple" was released at 62 minutes 48 seconds (4 seconds shorter than Hysteria) in 1980. "Hysteria" was the last album to feature guitarist Steve Clark who died from an overdose of codeine, Valium, morphine and a blood alcohol level of .30.

Def Leppard Adrenalize Def Leppard – Adrenalize (Mercury) 1992

1.      Let's Get Rocked (4:56)
2.      Heaven Is (3:37)
3.      Make Love Like a Man (4:13)
4.      Tonight (4:03)
5.      White Lightning  (7:37)
6.      Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion) (4:31)
7.      Personal Property  (4:20)
8.      Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad (5:25)
9.      I Wanna Touch U (3:16)
10.    Tear It Down (3:38)

Def Leppard’s leap into the 1990’s was without several things. Firstly, Mutt Lang is no longer producing. Also, guitarist Steve Clark is now gone and with him, Def Leppard have buried their rock and roll roots completely. "Adrenalize" is a melodic, slickly-produced, radio-ready, pop album. I’d be hard pressed to even call it hard rock, as there are no real guitar riffs to speak of and no traces of those early more metallic releases. The closest thing to hard rock on this album is the seven minute long  "White Lightning" and the closing track "Tear You Down". Rather, Def Leppard have more in common with Bryan Adams on this album. Songs like the sticky-sweet "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?" are eerily similar to Bryan Adams. For the most part, this album is catered for radio play complete with dumb song titles like "Let's Get Rocked" and "Make Love Like A Man", the first two singles from the album. Even if I liked this sort of pop stuff, I don't think "Adrenalize" has nearly the hooks that "Hysteria" or "Pyromania" had. Frankly, I just find this album to be vanilla and bland.

Take my opinion on this album with a grain of salt. I know I have an attitude about this band. I was a fan early on and just have never been able to appreciate the direction they took. The band rightly calls themselves a pop band and completely denies that they were ever a heavy metal band. It’s a shame they have completely denied and forsaken all those hard rock and heavy metal fans that supported them on great releases like "On Through the Night" and "High n Dry".

RetroActive Def Leppard - Retro Active (Mercury) 1993

1. "Desert Song" (5:19)
2. "Fractured Love" (5:08)
3. "Action! Not Words" (3:41)
4. "Two Steps Behind" [Acoustic Version] (4:16)
5. "She's Too Tough" (3:41)
6. "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (4:04)
7. "Only After Dark" (3:52)
8. "Ride into the Sun" (3:12)
9. "From the Inside" (4:13)
10. "Ring of Fire" (4:42)
11. "I Wanna Be Your Hero" (4:29)
12. "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (4:58)
13. "Two Steps Behind" [Electric Version] (4:29)

The Def Leppard odds 'n sods collection. I was mostly interested in this CD for their cover of Sweet's "Action" and Mick Ronson's "Only After Dark". I was also curious to hear the newly recorded version "Ride into the Sun", a song from their early NWOBHM days. I was pleasantly surprised by "Desert Song" and "Fractured Love", both heavy power chord tracks that recall the band's glory days before their big MTV makeover. Don't get the idea that this album is a solid release though as much of the material is leftover tracks from the 'Hysteria' sessions. This album was released following the death of of guitarist and founder Steve Clarke, marking the end of an era for Def Leppard.

Two Steps Behind Def Leppard - Two Steps Behind (Phonogram) 1993

1. "Two Steps Behind" (4:22)
2. "Tonight" [acoustic version] (4:19)
3. "S.M.C." [instrumental] (1:13)

When my CD copy of 'High n Dry' arrived I was on a bit of a Def Leppard kick. Those first two albums are just so good, I had forgotten about how bad their material became after those albums. Their contribution to the 'Last Action Hero' soundtrack wasn't bad, but nothing to get excited over either. This single is based on that song. Track one is the so-called 'unproduced' song from the soundtrack, track two is a "warts and all acoustic version of 'Tonight' that differs from the version 'Adrenalize' and previous b-sides" and track three is a short unreleased acoustic guitar solo, that is actually quite good. Overall, this 3 song, single isn't bad, but as I said, nothing great either. Three rather mellow acoustic songs by a formely rockin' band.

Slang Def Leppard - Slang (Mercury) 1996

1.      Truth? (3:00)
2.      Turn to Dust (4:21)
3.      Slang (2:37)
4.      All I Want is Everything (5:27)
5.      Work it Out (4:49)
6.      Breathe a Sigh (4:06)
7.      Deliver Me (3:04)
8.      Gift of Flesh (3:48)
9.      Blood Runs Cold (4:26)
10.    Where Does Love Go When It Dies (4:04)
11.     Pearl of Euphoria (6:19)

A new darker looking cover adorns the 1996 release from Def Leppard. While the old saying, "never judge a book by it's cover" is usually true, in this case, the cover art was an indication of a new direction. By 1996 "heavy metal" was considered a dirty word in the music industry, with people claiming that "metal was dead". Of course, it never was. True heavy metal was always an underground thing and stuff like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard's "Hysteria" were nothing more than 80's pop rock. So, the Leppard boys decided to follow the trends of the time, borrowing and sampling from several different new generation markets in hopes of staying relevant and drawing in all those teenagers who didn't grow up with their big hits. What we are left with is this sort of blending of alternative, grunge, and fragments of pop rock. However, while I despise grunge, what it gave the pop music world was a move away from slick studio sounds to a more raw sound. As such, Def Leppard pared down their sound quite a bit, dropping all the studio gloss and sounding a bit more organic. It actually sounds like music made by humans on songs like "Turn to Dust" and lead single "Work It Out". The Indian vibe on "Turn to Dust" reminds me a bit of Aerosmith's "Nine Lives" album, which was released a year later. "Gift of Flesh" has a slight punk vibe to it, and though not exactly something I would normally listen to, at least sounds like a band attempting to rock. The overall mood of the record is less upbeat as well, and allows the band to spew some venom, so to speak. With the band having gone through so much turmoil over the years with the death of their guitar player, the tragic accident that took the arm of drummer Allen, Phil Collen's divorce, the death of Rick Savage's father, etc., it's no wonder the album is so darned depressing. I have no doubt that losing Mutt Lang contributed to this as well. There are still the Lep ballads like "Where Does Love Go When It Dies" and "Breathe A Sigh" which, while less glossy sounding than their big 80's hits, are still tailor made for the radio. However, even though it's obvious that the band were simply trying to flow with the times, at least "Slang" is more organic than those oh, so glossy studio creations like "Hysteria".

The attempt to gain young fans with this new sound failed, at least in the U.S. "Slang" was the first Def Leppard album to fail to achieve platinum sales in the US. It still went Gold, but for the most part, young fans moved on to newer bands and weren't interested in relics like Def Leppard attempting to sound like their bands. Bands like Warrant, Kiss and Motley Crue also attempted this and failed to gain new success. It also backfired on older fans who, for the most part, hated the new sound. A quick check on some music review sites reveals what some longtime fans really think of "Slang"; "Leppard opts to go the Seattle route...Predictably, it sucks!", "Leppard screwed the fans over on this one big time", "experimental alternagrunge piece of smurf poo", "dark, moody, mature and boring" and "Def Leppard's something much more trendy and raw...To sum it up Slang is a piece of smurf poo!" Of course like any band as popular as Def Leppard, they have their die-hard fans that will defend anything they do. A quick check on Amazon reveals 68 five stare reviews with some saying it's "Def Leppard's masterpiece." I can't say completely I blame them, I am basically that way about certain bands as well. It's all just a matter of perspective and opinion.

In short, I do not think "Slang" is a great album. If I want to hear Def Leppard I will still tend towards the youthful energy of "On Through the Night" or the brilliant "High 'n' Dry". However, if forced to listen to "Slang" or the abysmal pop of of "Hysteria" and "Adrenalize", I'd take this. At least with "Slang" they moved away from the studio dominance of Mutt Lange to something that resembles a band playing rock music. I can honestly say that I even like a song or two here.

Euphoria Def Leppard – Euphoria (Mercury) 1999

1.      Demolition Man  (3:25)
2.      Promises  (3:59)
3.      Back In Your Face  (3:21)
4.      Goodbye  (3:36)
5.      All Night  (3:37)
6.      Paper Sun (5:28)
7.      It's Only Love  (4:06)
8.      21st Century Sha La La La Girl   (4:07)
9.      To Be Alive  (3:53)
10.      Disintegrate [instrumental]  (2:51)
11.      Guilty  (3:47)
12.      Day After Day  (4:37)
13.      Kings Of Oblivion  (4:18)

I remember when this CD was released. Def Leppard fanatics worldwide were excited by the hype that the band was returning to their classic sound after releasing their attempt at alternative/grunge/rock titled "Slang". Once the album hit, cries of "a return to form" resounded. My thought was, "a return to what form?" Def Leppard haven’t released a really great album since "High n Dry", or arguably "Pyromania". Euphoria is an attempt to return to the slick, radio-pop formula of "Adrenalize", and a weak attempt at that. Weak ballads, weaker rockers and even dance beats (see "All Night"). I find it hard to believe that a great guitarist like Vivian Campbell could find any satisfaction playing this stuff. Perhaps I am just too jaded when it comes to this band. I do like some pop rock bands, but for some reason Def Leppard’s music has left me cold since abandoning the hard rock and heavy metal of their early years.

X Def Leppard - X (Island) 2002

1. "Now" (3:58)
2. "Unbelievable" (3:58)
3. "You're So Beautiful" (3:31)
4. "Everyday" (3:08)
5. "Long Long Way to Go" (4:38)
6. "Four Letter Word" (3:07)
7. "Torn to Shreds" (2:56)
8. "Love Don't Lie" (4:46)
9. "Gravity" (2:33)
10. "Cry" (3:17)
11. "Girl Like You" (2:49)
12. "Let Me Be the One" (3:29)
13. "Scar" (4:59)

This is the first Def Leppard disc past "Hysteria" that I have even given a chance of getting into my CD player. Surprisingly, 'X' is not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. As a matter of fact, I quite enjoyed it on the very first listen. Instead of trying to act like they are still 20-somethings and releasing some trendy alterna-rap-Creed-wanna-be crap, 'X' is actually a good disc full of melodic rock (AOR) songs. 'X' is chock full of those big Def Leppard harmonies and sing along choruses. Still, this disc is far from those early hard rockin' days, but I guess I'd rather hear this than "Slang" any day. Def Leppard seems like they have come to the understanding that they just need to be who they are and not try to be whatever the radio and MTV says is cool. I still have a hard time believing that Vivian Campbell is the band's guitarist though. I mean, the man is a guitar shredder and he is virtually unheard on this disc. Oh well, I guess I need to stop analyzing the band. If I can just separate the Def Leppard of my youth from the Def Leppard of 2002, I can sit back and enjoy a good melodic rock disc, instead of being frustrated with what I thought the band should be.

Def Leppard - Yeah! (Mercury) 2006

1. 20th Century Boy" (3:41)
2. Rock On" (2:53)
3. Hanging On The Telephone" (2:22)
4. Waterloo Sunset" (3:38)
5. Hell Raiser" (3:19)
6. 10538 Overture" (4:30)
7. Street Life" (3:26)
8. Drive-In Saturday" (4:07)
9. Little Bit Of Love" (2:33)
10. The Golden Age Of Rock 'n' Roll" (3:28)
11. No Matter What" (2:51)
12. He's Gonna Step On You Again" (4:04)
13. Don't Believe A Word" (2:19)
14. Stay With Me" (4:39)
15. "No Matter What" [live] (2:58)
16. "Winter Song" (4:35)

I picked up the DL "Yeah!" mostly because I am a sucker for covers albums, even though I am not the biggest fan of recent Def Leppard offerings. Apparently Def Leppard grew up listening to a lot of the same Bristish rock n roll and glam rock bands that I did. The Sweet, Thin Lizzy, Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, Free, T. Rex, Badfinger, Faces...all great stuff. I was especially anxious to hear their version of Sweet's "Hellraiser" and Thin Lizzy's "Don't Believe a Word." Both are great songs in their own right. I thought that perhaps the Leppard boyz might take the intensity level of "Hellraiser" up a notch from the original but was a bit surprised to hear that that was not the case. "Hellraiser" is such an intense heavy metal song from the 70's, but this new version polishes it up a bit too much. They still pull off an admirable cover, complete with Justin Hawkins (The Darkness) on guest vocals. (For a heavier version, check out Raven's cover.) Their version of "Don't Believe A Word" is a bit heavier, although no more than the original. Actually, this is probably my favorite cover on the whole CD complete with a sweet guitar solo from Vivian Campbell that sticks pretty close to Brian Robertson's original solo. Another standout cut is Mott the Hoople's "Golden Age of Rock n Roll", complete with that dirty guitar sound and one of Elliot's best vocal performanes on the CD. Actually, this might have been a more appropriate title for this CD, rather than "Yeah!". According to the liner notes, the band almost went with that title. Too bad they didn't. Other standout cuts are the T.Rex cover "2oth Century Boy" and David Essex's "Rock On". Overall, the band sticks pretty close to the original arrangements of the songs, and even the original feel of the songs. One big difference is that Def Leppard's production is glossier, losing that edge that a lot of the aforementioned bands had due to the rough 1970's recordings. Joe Elliot's vocal performance is probably his most honest since "On Through the Night". For the most part there are no multiple layers of vocals, but rather it sounds as though he actually just sang the tracks and had fun with it. "Yeah" is probably going to disappoint fans who are hoping for the slicker sound of "Hysteria" and "Pyromania" but for those who appreciate the 70's rockers, this should be a pretty enjoyable disc.

I have to mention also, that the photos in the booklet, emmulating some classic album covers are fantastic. As a matter of fact, the photos on the inside are better than the lame album cover itself that looks like something you'd see on some pop boy-band cover.

Another point worth mentioning is that several different versions of the CD were released in the U.S. At Best Buy stores, the CD includes two bonus tracks including "Winter Song" and a live version of "No Matter What". Target has ""Yeah! with 2 bonus tracks; "Action" (live ) and "When I'm Dead And Gone". I assume that "Action' is the Sweet song. Since I don't have that version, I don't know for sure. Walmart stores have a regular version of the CD without bonus tracks but offer a bonus EP with 5 non-album tracks and some uselss backstage interviews for $5.99.

Yeah! EP Def Leppard - Yeah! [Wal-Mart Exclusive EP] (Mercury) 2006

1. "American Girl" (3:33)
2. backstage interview #1 (3:11)
3. "Seach & Destroy" (3:26)
4. backstage interview #2 (2:00)
5. "Space Oddity" (5:27)
6. "backstage interview #3 (2:43)
7. "Dear Friends" (1:27)
8. "Heartbeat" (2:45)

This EP was apparently only released through Wal-Mart store in the US. The EP is a good listen, but you'll need to have the skip button handy to pass over the interview clips stuck between the songs. I wish they would have stuck all the interview footage at the end of the CD as this is something most fans will listen to once than never again. Anyhow, the songs are Tom Petty's "American Girl", probably my least favorite track as it sounds almost identical to the original, Iggy Pop's "Search and Destroy", David Bowie's "Space Oddity", a killer song in it's own right, Queen's "Dear Friends" and one of the few songs I was unfamiliar with, "Heartbeat" by a band called Jobriath.

Sparkle Lounge Def Leppard - Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (Bludgeon Riffola) 2008

1. Go (3:20)
2. Nine Lives (3:22)
3. C'mon C'mon (4:04)
4. Love (4:17)
5. Tomorrow (3:35)
6. Cruise Control (3:03)
7. Hallucinate (3:16)
8. Only the Good Die Young (3:33)
9. Bad Actress (3:03)
10. Come Undone (3:33)
11. Gotta Let Go (3:55)

For years and years Joe Elliot and crew have been denying that they were ever a heavy metal band, or even a hard rock band. They want to be a pop band and that is exactly what they deliver on "Sparkle Lounge". If the lame cover art or album title doesn't give it away, "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge" is eleven attempts at modern radio pop. Of course, since much of modern pop attempts to 'rock', Def Leppard have moved away from the slick production and multi-layered vocals of the popular 80's albums and have instead gone for a more minimalist, modern rock sound. Unfortunately the guitar production is so hollow sounding that even a familiar minimalist rock and roll riff doesn't come across very strong. Album closer "Gotta Let Go" is the only song that even comes close to really "rocking" and this is the only song that I don't find completely annoying. "Bad Actress" has the potential to be a good hard rocker as well, not unlike The Sweet or Slade, but is drug down by a useless modern rock guitar rhythm and weak guitar tones.

The band doesn't print the lyrics in the booklet, frankly, what's the point with lyrics like, "C'mon C'mon, C'mon, everybody, everyone, C'mon C'mon, baby, baby, baby, won't you give me a good time, squeeze me, please me, make me feel like the last time" or "Go Just Go, Go Just Go, Go Just Go". Yes, this is the kind of dribble that Def Leppard are reduced to now, not that I expected anything really deep or meaningful. I mean, this is the band that gave us "Pour Some Sugar On Me". However, these are the type of lyrics I expect out of some pop diva or corporate boy band, not a seasoned rock band like Def Leppard. Oh, but wait, I keep forgetting, they are not a rock band, they are a pop band.

Of course what would a Def Leppard album be without a least one sticky sweet ballad. The token ballad this time is titled "Love", an melodramatic, acoustic piece complete with layered background "ooooos" and "ahhhhhs".

Country superstar Tim McGraw sings the intro on "Nine Live". His involvement with the song adds nothing to the song or the record. It's actually quite easily overlooked. Rather, it's a quick marketing grab for Def Leppard, who could draw a few fans from the music buying Country Music audience. Unfortunately for those fans, I don't hear much on here that would appeal to them either.

Surprisingly, guitarist Vivian Campell is released to do a few guitar solos, which any Dio fan worth his devil horns knows that the man in more than capable of. Just take a listen to his solo in "Hallucinate" and remember what a great guitarist he use to be and obviously still could be. Unfortunately, a few seconds of guitar solo doesn't really save this album from being quickly forgotten. Fans of Def Leppard's early NWOBHM material will find nothing to like about this one. Fans of their slick 80's pop metal sound will probably be disappointed as well. However, I am sure their die-hard fans will find something to like here.
I know there are quite a few of them because every time I write a review like this I receive several expletive filled emails from them. Trust me, I know how you guys feel. I'm the same way with Aerosmith. Unfortunately I just can't give Def Leppard the same pass.

Def Leppard
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