Saturday, 31st October 2015
Def Leppard's new self titled album was released to the world on 30th October and here are a few thoughts.
The band's 10th studio album of all original material is now out. Seven (long) years after their last - 2008's 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge'.
Since the band first mentioned this album in February 2014 a LOT of things have been said.
So now having heard the thing, starting at 12:09am 30th October 2015 (UK time), and - liking what I heard. I felt the need to write down some of my thoughts about the album as a whole.
This isn't so much a "critical" review. Just a collection of my thoughts, opinions about each song and the album as a whole.
Actually not critical because there wasn't anything I found to criticise!. Which might be one of the most pleasing things about this album.
Def Leppard Quote - "If this really is the last record we ever make, it's a good way to go out. But let me tell you; we're not going anywhere."
Def Leppard Album Review - 31st October 2015
01 - Let's Go
Do you really, really wanna do this now?. Six weeks or so on and this still stands up. A booming rock track with cool references to Hysteria and the classic big harmony vocals from that album and Pyro/Adrenalize/Euphoria.
There isn't much else to say now that everyone has had this song for many weeks. Although it now has a different context when "watching" the song being performed in the new promo video. Also seven years waiting time for one of those things!. And unlike probably 99% of anyone reading this - my first time seeing the band playing anything from this new album. Still not giving in and watching the live videos of this song.
02 - Dangerous
A grower? - as in it has grown on me the more I've heard it. And now within the context of the rest of the album has become actually more of a great song than when I first heard it. Although that might have been due to being so annoyed at not having realised it was out for about seven years (actually 3 hours...). Definitely something that could have been on Euphoria and interesting to me that it's probably different to most of their past hit single songs in that it's tempo is so much faster - than Promises or Photograph. The obvious reference points.
But enough but those as we all know them by now...
Based on these two and (via a Spanish radio station) hearing 'All Time High', I was expecting a Euphoria meets Hysteria album with the sound of Retro-Active thrown in. Even though the band had said things like "horns", "Rolling Stones Backing vocals", "psychedelic"...etc. You can only go by what you've heard so far and those three suggested something - and something I was quite excited by. Especially Rick's drum sound.
Fast forward to 12:09am 30th October 2015...and the end of 'Dangerous'. Next song:
03 - Man Enough
Cue Rick Savage. I knew this song had a strong bass part and people had referenced 'Slang' - the song. But I didn't hear exactly what I thought I was going to hear and that sums up the rest of the album - other than 'All Time High' of course.
That could go two ways - not what I was expecting and its crap / disappointing / yeah it's alright, if you like that sort of thing.
Or - its not what I was expecting and the quality is so high I love it.
Which one was it? - read on:
My first reaction was OK - this album is about to go somewhere else, and just took in the song which is actually great. Some of the descriptions of this and Sea Of Love made me think perhaps I'm not really going to be that fussed by these. Maybe 'All Time High' will be my favourite and few others that might be similar.
I think the same now as when I first heard it. It's just a really strong song. And one of the cool things throughout the record is the lyrics are not at all like Let's Get Rocked / MLLAM / 21st Century. I wouldn't say they are 'mature' but they're not (as Joe once described them) 'banal'.
I think the 'Sold me down the river' part and the whole mid section is awesome. The Queen 'Another One Bites The Dust' references are not long enough for it to be a copy. Just a few cool little parts including one part that actually sounds like it was sampled from the song. Plus the hand claps. Nice touches, especially if you like that song and are a Queen fan.
Days later, actually a day but it feels like two days now, this remains one of the stand out tracks. It's slightly different for them but maybe you could say it would have fit on the 'Slang' album. A theme that continues into the rest of the album. As in songs that are different to each other and some different to anything they've done before.
It was almost weird that the last interview I read (and typed out) on here was.
Where Joe said this:
"We've touched on our own past. We've touched on the past of other artists who've influenced us in the first place. And we've also hopefully brought something to the table that's for the long term Leppard fan that's not in his 20s or in her 20s any more. that wants to see a sort of development or a growth within our writing abilities and our performances. That it's not just a shadow image of our past."
And being one of those long term fans. This sums up the rest of the album. It pleased me to hear some of these songs.
It almost sounds like a new version of the band. Still obviously them but taking things somewhere else. And more importantly - somewhere good!. With a general level of quality throughout. The only spikes in that level going UP and into greatness rather than below and into - "meh".
04 - We Belong
The "lead-vocal-lines-from-all-band-members" song. I had been thinking for a few years it would be cool if maybe Vivian or Phil sang a verse or a few lines in a song alongside Joe's own lead vocals. And then all of a sudden in the album build up we heard all of them would sing. And they can all sing well too!. This song wouldn't have been out of place on Manraze's 'Surreal' album and maybe it has a similar feel to something like 'I, Surrender' although a different type of song.
Perhaps the closest thing to a traditional ballad on the album but yet more restrained than a full blown 80s ballad. As Joe had actually said about the 'slowies' beforehand. Restrained is a good word actually - a lot of these songs could described that way. Joe's vocals for one thing. Singing in a lower register.
"Whatever happened to forgiveness, are the words too hard to say?"
Who the hell is that?...oh, it's Rick Allen. The drummer. Singing!.
He can play drums and he can sing.
He has actually sung something on at least two songs by other artists before...but more about that tomorrow...
05 - Invincible
Rick Allen plays drums (outstandingly well throughout the album). He can sing. And - as it turns out. He can also come up with "guitar licks". And a fine guitar lick at that!
One of the best intros and starts to a Def Leppard song?. I wouldn't disagree with that. Particularly because I just wrote it!.
One of the highlights of the album. "Cool" guitar work - the guitar lick, as Joe calls it in the Classic Rock Fanpack and the riffing. And in fact the guitar work on the entire album sounds great. You can really hear why Phil said "some people have said it's the best guitar solos they've ever heard from me on a Def Leppard record". And just as I type that I'm hearing the proof in this song. A lot of his guitar work reminds me of some Manraze and even Delta Deep stuff. In other words great quality. Def Leppard may have just borrowed some of the greatness from those two bands. Perhaps Phil has something to do with that? - make sense...
Joe referenced the Psychedelic Furs. I can hear that a little bit in his vocals. This doesn't really sound like anything thing they've done before. And this for me is where the album really gets interesting.
Different-ish but different GOOD. And as we get further along - GREAT.
06 - Sea Of Love
It was almost funny listening to this song. I'd seen/heard various different descriptions from various different people. The band, journalists...and a few fans. It didn't sound at all like I thought it might.
A song that should have been left to Delta Deep? Not really appropriate for a Def Leppard album?. Stands out as a being too different?.
No. Another really strong song. The Horns and those backing vocal parts where Debbi Blackwell-Cook sings are just at the right level in the mix that they just add a little extra to the song and don't sound out of place. In a similar way to '20th Century Boy' from YEAH!. A cover version but not something Def Leppard had done before. Doesn't sound at all out of place.
Delta Deep is an obvious comparison given it was originally intended for them. Many songs on that album sound like regular rock tracks rather than traditional blues. This has all the quality of some of that albums best tracks. Phil's guitar work on the mid section is especially good.
A really good song and it's almost getting to the stage where you're thinking. Perhaps the next one might be a song I "don't" like?.
07 - Energized
Wrong. I like this too. In spite of all evidence stacked against it - an X/Ten sounding song and a little bit of a pop influence. I like it.
And not just like it, it's another great song. Slight elements of Manraze in the lyrics. Obviously mostly written by Phil.
08 - All Time High
Oh yeah - up next All Time High.
Described a couple of weeks ago by me as "joyous". And so it remains. Especially the ending.
Joe Elliott's line "And I will not go quietly, no, I will not go quietly!" into Phil Collen's guitar solo. Nuff said.
I'm on an All Time High?. Yeah, pretty much.
09 - Battle Of My Own
Put simply - I think this is outstanding.
The best song on the Slang album. Only it's on this album.
I wouldn't want to say anything else. Apart from Joe's vocals are especially good - as they are throughout the entire album in fact.
10 - Broke 'n' Brokenhearted
Track ten, written in only...ten minutes. I see what you did there!
Almost as cheeky as putting out 'Let's Go' and 'Dangerous' first and (fff) fooling us into thinking it was certain kind of album.
Joe's not well, he's mad as hell. I'm not because this is another cool and rocking song. This is like throwing together bits of the Down 'n' Outz, Manraze, Delta Deep with a dash of Mott The Hoople.
Joe's huffing and puffing again - much like he did at the end of 'Demolition Man' on the Euphoria tour.
Probably the pick of Phil's guitar solos on the album. And speaking of the Down 'n' Outz. There's a nice little drum part that is right out of 'One Of The Boys'.
"I'll blow your playhouse down, 'cause this is my town."
I do like that bit. And now what is next?. Something I'll hate? and the album will go downhill.
11 - Forever Young
No. I know what I hate and I don't hate this!. There only one thing that comes to mind to sum it up. This is just "cool".
Musically satisfying to listen to. The drums and the guitar work and also the backing vocal parts. Everything about this sounds great.
In fact it may even take the album into greatness. Which becomes a running theme from here onwards.
12 - Last Dance
Once again - I think this is outstanding. All that needs to be said.
So. The band are sort of saying at this point:
OK, well, we're glad you listened this far, hope you enjoyed it. We're going to end on a gentle note with some mellow yet still awesome songs.
But! - before we go.
Check this out!
13 - Wings Of An Angel
So many words spring to mind but let's start with these:
Holy f**king sheeeet!.
Actually Joe said another line in an interview that could be apt here:
"We genuinely believe that this is a fantastic piece of work that we've made. That stands up to anything that we've ever made. And specifically 35 years into our career. That in itself is almost a miracle. That somebody has the enthusiasm to be that bothered to make a record and stand by it as strongly as we are doing."
Yes, I think that this could be the one song which fits that quote perfectly. What is it better than?. I wouldn't care to say. It's just greatness on its own.
But in terms of song references...hard to say. 'Paper Sun' could've been described as being like a Hysteria/Pyro era song. One of the typical epic songs.
This is like a new twist on them. The only song name that springs to mind is Worlds Collide. Just in terms of Sav reprising his vocal part from that.
The "Liberation", "Inspiration" bit - at least I think that's him!. And it might be him also doing the 'touched by the wings' part along with Vivian.
Funny I mentioned Vivian. Great song so far.
And...then we get to 2:50mins...and the mid-section...and the guitar solo...I think you know where this is going.
Vivian Campbell whips out his axe and melts our faces off!. Good lord.
And this from someone who said the following many times in his interviews over the last year:
"The bad news is I actually didn't have that much to do with it. So that speaks volumes right there."
Well, if that's his only major contribution to this record. Job done!. Pack up your guitar and head home. To slay cancer with your face-melting fiery axe!.
And now perhaps time to relax and recover from that:
14 - Blind Faith
I had no idea what to expect from a song that was described as anything from 'Beatles-like' to a 'psychedelic' song and once more:
I really think this is outstanding.
One of the best songs they have ever recorded. I wouldn't really know what else to say. It doesn't need to be said.
What way to end an album.
And the first listen to this album in full was over. I never expected to be stunned by the first full listen to it all but I really was.
This is a 'First-Listen-To-An-Album' that I won't forget for some time.
The second "half" of the "record" for me just goes into a higher level. And genuinely has some of the best songs I think they've ever recorded.
Putting "Wings" in between 'Last Dance' and 'Blind Faith' might just have been a stroke of genius. Build up - face-melting and then relax.
I don't know exactly how to explain why I think that. I'm just pleased I do. This has been an interesting experience to have heard so much about an album for almost two years and then hear it yourself and actually think it's as good as the people who made it think it is.
I don't foresee re-thinking my thoughts about the last three songs especially any time soon.
A deeply satisfying album to listen to from start to finish and some moments of greatness thrown in for good measure.
Brian May of Queen - "This is a classic Def Leppard album. Who could ask for more?."
Related Link -
Buy 'Def Leppard' Online
- Buy UK CD Deluxe Edition @ -
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Def Leppard Let's Go - Retail Links
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Def Leppard Dangerous - Retail Links
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Def Leppard - Def Leppard - Album Tracklisting
- 01 - Let's Go - 5:01
- 02 - Dangerous - 3:26
- 03 - Man Enough - 3:54
- 04 - We Belong - 5:06
- 05 - Invincible - 3:46
- 06 - Sea Of Love - 4:04
- 07 - Energized - 3:23
- 08 - All Time High - 4:19
- 09 - Battle Of My Own - 2:42
- 10 - Broke 'n' Brokenhearted - 3:17
- 11 - Forever Young - 2:21
- 12 - Last Dance - 3:09
- 13 - Wings Of An Angel - 4:23
- 14 - Blind Faith - 5:33
- Total Time - 54:24
- Release Date - 30th October 2015
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