1987 saw the eighteen year old me fall in love. That year saw the high water mark for “hair metal” (what a horrible pigeon hole for some great music) and the summer of ’87 saw the release of an album that would stay with me ever since and always top my list of favourite records. Whilst making it, Def Leppard and their producer (Robert “Mutt” Lange) decided that their aim was to make “Hysteria” so that it should seem like a greatest hits collection – and there are few people who would disagree. Every track had an instant impact on me that fostered a love of the band’s music that has never faded. Each subsequent album brought me joy but, in truth, none ever quite left the same impression on my musical DNA that “Hysteria” did, although the anticipation of each new release filled me with excitement. The news of a new studio album for 2015 had exactly the same effect.
“Def Leppard” is the bands eleventh studio album – the first since 2008’s “Songs From the Sparkle Lounge”. From the instant hooks of album opener and first single “Let’s Go” to the bass groove of “Man Enough”, from the anthemic “Sea Of Love” to the beautiful album closer and future classic “Blind Faith”, from the instant hit of “Dangerous” to the acoustic “Battle Of My Own”, this is timeless Def Leppard: fourteen tracks that will delight fans and win over a whole new generation alike. Def Leppard have always known how to write hits, and this album is packed with them. The album was produced by Def Leppard, and longtime producer/engineer Ronan McHugh. The album was recorded at Joe’s Garage.
Joe Elliott says, “We got together to see what we had with maybe putting out a three track EP in mind. All of a sudden we had twelve songs on the go, and two more would come just a few weeks later. It’s the first album we’ve ever made with no deal in place & no one looking over our shoulders so the freedom was immense & I think you can hear it in the songs.”
“Ah yes, but is it any good?”, I hear you cry. My first mistake was to take my first listen through some tinny speakers on my tablet, somehow it just didn’t press my buttons – but then again, perhaps I was just too giddy at getting a first chance at the new songs. Then I had to go on a bit of a journey and listening to the album through a proper system revealed that “Def Leppard” is an absolute corker of a record.
First track, and lead single, “Let’s Go” has a riff and feel that is more than a little reminiscent of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” but despite some internet trolls’ comments to the contrary, the arrangement and, most significantly, the lyrics make for a much more rounded song. The band have said that “Dangerous” has a feel of “Photograph” but, again, the song writing has a much more rounded (some might say mature) skill set on offer.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbQ6Cp8lD2o]
In fact, it is the song writing and, especially, the lyrics on offer throughout the record that really show how the band have developed over the years. Every track on the album generates a reaction in me that, if I didn’t know better, would suggest that the band based their thoughts on my life. The three ballads on offer, “We Belong”, “Last Dance” and “Blind Faith” ALL achieved something that I never thought Def Leppard (or any band of their era) would manage – they brought me to tears. The sentiments expressed reflect the sort of life experience that comes along after more years than I (and,for that matter, the band) really want to admit to. “We Belong” also sees lead vocals shared by all the band.
Interestingly, there are moments when the band’s influences creep in – “Man Enough” and it’s very funky bass line clearly shares a heritage with Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” but is quite clearly Def Leppard.
Whilst recording, people would approach the band and ask what the new album sounded like. The response was always that it sounds like Def Leppard, hence the album title. Is it as good as “Hysteria”? Based on my response to the record, yes it is. Like the 1987 classic, what the band have achieved is a record that brings together the best elements of what makes them tick and “Def Leppard” could easily be another greatest hits – this time without Mutt! Harmony vocals to die for, a wall of sound that s unmistakeably ‘Leppard but with something fresh and exhilarating whilst also providing some grown up emotions. Coincidentally given the recent celebrations, this is definitely a trip “Back to the Future”!
A clear front runner for my album of the year and I can’t wait for the live shows in December.
“Def Leppard” Tracklisting
- Let’s Go
- Man Enough
- We Belong
- Sea Of Love
- All Time High
- Battle Of My Own
- Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted
- Forever Young
- Last Dance
- Wings Of An Angel
- Blind Faith
Worldwide Album Release Date: 30th October 2015
Single: “Let’s Go”
CD Fanpack, double vinyl gatefold and digital: 30th October 2015
CD album: 27th November 2015
The UK will also see a CD fanpack release of the album in conjunction with Classic Rock magazine. The Def Leppard Fanpack will include:
– Brand new studio album – with bonus exclusive track
– 116-page magazine featuring all-new interviews with all five band members, all-new photos and a track-by-track guide to the album
– Collectable art cards
– Def Leppard metal keyring
– Price: £15.99
The magazine can be pre-ordered at www.teamrock.com/defleppard.
Def Leppard are currently in the midst of a sold out Arena tour in the USA. They will tour the UK and Eire in December 2015 with Whitesnake and Black Star Riders. Dates are as follows –
Sunday 6 Dublin 3Arena EIRE
Monday 7 Belfast Odyssey UK
Wednesday 9 Newcastle Metro Radio Arena UK
Thursday 10 Glasgow The SSE Hydro UK SOLD OUT
Saturday 12 Birmingham Genting Arena UK SOLD OUT
Sunday 13 Nottingham Capital FM Arena UK
Tuesday 15 Manchester Arena UK
Wednesday 16 Cardiff Motorpoint Arena UK SOLD OUT
Friday 18 London The SSE Arena Wembley UK SOLD OUT
Saturday 19 Sheffield Motorpoint Arena UK SOLD OUT
Tickets are on sale now priced £45.00 Newcastle to Sheffield & £49.50 for Belfast & €59.50/€64.50 for Dublin (subject to per-ticket charge plus order processing fee) and are available from www.livenation.co.uk