This section looks at the 'X/Ten' album release. The ninth studio album released by the band in 2002 and the first to feature multiple outside writers. It featured a more pop sound than previous albums and gave the band their last major UK Top 40 hit singles.
"You bought it, you named it"
Def Leppard released their eighth studio album X/Ten on this day in 2002 in North America.
The band's tenth overall album release was issued on 30th July 2002 in the USA and Canada.
It was later released in the UK and around the world on 12th August and was actually first issued in Japan on 24th July.
This album had been just over a year in the making and saw the band letting in more of a modern pop influence than previous releases. It also saw them work with a number of outside songwriters and co-producers. One song started with Mutt Lange's involvement was not included.
Mostly produced by the band and Pete Woodroffe. Current co-producer Ronan McHugh was also involved in the production and would become the band's out front sound man on the 2002/2003 world tour.
Led by the first single 'Now' the album would enter the US charts at Number 11 and Number 14 in the UK. That song became a minor hit in the UK and the second single 'Long Long Way To Go' would be their last UK Top 40 chart entry in April 2003.
The album received a mixed reaction from fans and critics alike but still featured some great songs.
On the same day of the American release the band attended a signing session at a Walmart store in Saddlebrook, NJ.
As mentioned the 27th July promo show took place at theand their Twitter account posted the photo shown below in 2016.
Read some quotes about the album below.
Work began on writing the songs for the album in late 2000 after the Euphoria summer tour ended. By Spring 2001 they began to work on songs as a full band and recording started on 7th July 2001 in Dublin at Joe's Garage studio and was completed in April 2002.
Unlike their last album they also recorded with different producers at different studios. Long term associate Pete Woodroffe working with them in Dublin and with various producers in Sweden and California. It would be Pete's last time working with the band having started as an engineer on the 'Adrenalize' sessions just over ten years earlier.
The recording was completed by March of 2002 when news of the X album title and work with outside songwriters and producers also hit the headlines in the music press.
All of Joe's vocals were recorded at home in Dublin. The finished album was mixed at Olympic Studios in London where the band had recorded the first single version of 'Wasted' in 1979 with Nick Tauber. Work on the album finished there on 7th May 2002 and the tracklisting announced online in mid June.
Some band members later said they felt they had let too much outside influence in on this album including listening to A & R men from the record company.
Although Joe's childhood friend Andy Smith was credited as a songwriter on the debut album this was the first time since (apart from Mutt Lange) that the band used any outside songwriters.
News of their involvement surprised people given their background with artists ranging from Backstreet Boys to Britney Spears. Per Aldeheim and Andreas Carlsson worked with the band on 'Unbelievable' for two days at Polar Studios in Sweden. Made famous by ABBA. They also co-wrote the song with Max Martin.
(Per, Andreas and Max are pictured above at Polar Studios. Photo by Per Aldeheim).
'Long Long Way To Go' was written by Wayne Hector and Steve Robson and was later used by Lionel Richie in 2004.
'Now', 'You're So Beautiful' and 'Everyday' were produced by Marti Frederiksen at Rumbo Studios in Los Angeles where Guns N' Roses had recorded 'Appetite For Destruction'. Rick Allen also recorded most of his drums for the album there using his Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum (once borrowed by Lars Ulrich for Metallica's 1986 'Master Of Puppets' album).
Phil's then guitar tech Stan Schiller contributed guitar parts to 'Gravity'. Beck's father David Campbell arranged the strings for both 'Let Me Be The One' and 'Long Long Way To Go'.
Cover Art/Album Title
UK/Japan used a black X on a white background. A negative of the North American cover which featured a white X on a black background.
Joe came up with the concept with graphic designer Todd Perry. He later insisted the title was based on the Roman Numeral X and therefore it was called Ten. The playful dispute of whether it was X or Ten started in interviews just after the album release and became a running joke on stage during the tour.
Scrapped "Ten" Album Artwork
Joe conceding that - "You bought it, you named it". And if you ever wondered why it's still referred to on this site as X/Ten (now you know).
Album Promotion/Tour Delays
Whilst speaking to a TV show in Japan in November 2002 during the start of the X/Ten world tour. Joe had said the band were happy to let the album be released in July/August and expected the record company to re-push the album once the tour had started. In later interview various band members suggested they were not happy with how the album and single releases were handled. Possibly the start of the souring of the band's relationship with Universal which would end after the release of 2008's Sparkle Lounge album.
Between late June 2002 and September they played a number of promo shows including festival and headline club dates. Joe, Phil and Vivian also went on acoustic radio promo tours in Europe and across the USA.
UK Bonus Tracks
The North American version of the album featured the basic 13 tracks. The UK and Japanese versions included two bonus songs. An acoustic version of 'Long Long Way To Go' and another original song called 'Kiss The Day'.
Rough Mixes CD
A CD of rough mixes and different versions of the album songs surfaced in 2002. It included the first version of 'Gravity' called 'Perfect Girl' written by Phil Collen.
Other songs were much rockier and unpolished than the final album versions. In his 2011 tribute radio show, Joe said his late father Joe Snr. had preferred the version of 'Let Me Be The One' from this CD to the final one used on the album. Joe agreed it was better.
Read some quotes from the band at the time of the album release, during the making and a few recent reflections.
X/Ten Album - Press Release Quotes
"It’s a record of great songs," says Elliott simply. "Second best was never good enough for this band." Def Leppard began work on ‘X’ with long time cohort Pete Woodroffe on July 7, 2001 at Joe Elliott’s Dublin home. Having taken six months off upon completion of the highly successful ‘Euphoria’ world tour, the quintet were fresh, revitalised and bursting with song-writing ideas. The band worked six days a week, noon to midnight in Elliott’s home studio, and with Woodroffe and Campbell occupying Elliott’s guest bedrooms and Collen staying in the singer’s ‘granny flat’, the vibe was less that of a superstar rock band and more that of a hungry new outfit with something to prove.
"You always have something to prove," Elliott admits with a smile. "We’ve achieved some incredible things together, but the challenge now is to try to better what we’ve done before. What we’ve got that you can’t buy, plan, learn or develop is chemistry, and where before we may have been trying to push things in a number of different directions, this time we were all on the same page musically and mentally."
Initial songwriting sessions for ‘X’ flowed smoothly, but, never content to rest on their laurels, Leppard decided to add some different flavours and fresh perspectives to the process by collaborating with new writing partners. Decamping from Elliott’s studio, the band journeyed to America’s West Coast to spend two weeks in Los Angeles with Aerosmith collaborator Marty Frederiksen, sessions which yielded three tracks on ‘X’.
They returned to Dublin via Sweden, spending two highly productive days with Andreas Carlsson and Per Aldeheim, part of the phenomenally successful Cheiron hit factory responsible for penning tracks for Britney Spears, ‘N Sync, and Backstreet Boys. Eyebrows were raised at the latter collaborations, a fact which bemuses the Leppard men no end…
"Someone asked the other day when we decided to write with outside writers and Sav’s answer was 1980, when we wrote ‘When The Walls Come Tumbling Down’ with a friend of mine called Andy Smith," Elliott laughs. "From ‘Pyromania’ onwards we wrote with Mutt Lange, so it’s nothing new for us to pool our ideas with other writers. Some bands get precious and macho about their own songwriting, but Mutt Lange taught us years ago that the song is king and ego should never be allowed to interfere."
"We just wanted to freshen things up a little," he explains. "We don’t have to prove anything with our songwriting. David Bowie wrote ‘All The Young Dudes’ for Mott the Hoople and worked with Iggy Pop in the ‘70’s and that doesn’t take away from the strength of Iggy or Mott’s legacies. Bottom line, we just believed in these songs , and to be honest, we’d lived with the songs for about four months before we recorded anything so they really felt like our songs."
"This album may hopefully and finally get the point across that we’re not just a heavy metal band," Joe adds. "Some songs are rock, some songs are pop and some fall somewhere in between. And that’s the way it’s always been. You don’t sell sixteen million copies of an album, as we did with ‘Hysteria’ by only appealing to rock fans. We’re on classic rock radio, and modern rock radio and pop radio, and that’s what we wanted, that cross-the-board appeal. The reality is that we’re on the radio every second of every day somewhere in the world until the planet blows up, just like The Beatles."
"We always wanted to be the biggest band in the world," he points out, warming to the theme. "Our yardstick when we started was the Stones and Zeppelin and The Who and The Beatles, which may have seemed like a foolish dream at the time. But come 1988 we were the biggest band in the world, it was what we’d aimed for and we f**king achieved it. Our competition has always been whoever’s in the Top 10, which was Michael Jackson in 1983. Madonna and Prince in 1987 and I guess Britney Spears and Celine Dion now. We’ve never sold ourselves short and we’re not going to start now."
So what drives Def Leppard on now?
"Clearly we don’t need the money," Joe snorts. "We could have retired in 1988 if this was about money. What we do is make music, and we all believe that we’ve still got great songs inside us. No-one suggests that Neil Young or Aerosmith or Lou Reed or Iggy Pop pack it in, even though all those people have had periods where they were considered less ‘cool’ than they are now."
"F**k ‘cool’ anyway," he laughs. "We’re the ultimate example of a band that can make a living without having journalists on your side. If there’s ever been a band that’s hated by the press – other than Queen – it’s us. When ‘Pyromania’ came out it got slammed everywhere, and nine million record sales later those same reviewers might still hate it, but people who actually have to buy their records like it. I don’t care if people think we’re credible, we’ve only ever had one agenda - making great records."
So having achieved goal after goal, what dreams are left for Def Leppard?
"The album comes out and sells twenty billion copies, we all get knighthoods and have every street in Sheffield named after the band," Elliott says with a smile. "No, the dream is for us to be still making records and still writing songs that mean something in twenty years time."
A Yorkshireman to the end, Joe Elliott refuses to trot out the usual bullshit promotional lines when it comes to describing ‘X’, insisting "every band says their new album is their best album and it’s such a bogus statement."
"I’m not saying that this album is better than ‘Hysteria’ or ‘Pyromania’ or even ‘On Through The Night’," he states. "But I think it’s the best record that we can make now and it’s very representative of what Def Leppard is doing in 2002."
"When we finished mixing the album, we all wanted a copy of the CD to bring back home to listen to. And when we put it on we can look at one another and say ‘Yes, job well done’. We know we’ll never eclipse ‘Hysteria’ sales-wise, but we’ve always maintained our writing standards and performance standards. And hand on heart we know that Def Leppard now is as good as it’s ever been."
Joe Elliott (on the X/Ten album title) - 2002 Interview Quotes
"It started out being called "Ten", but we didn't want to use the letters 't-e-n' anywhere on it, we wanted to use the Roman numeral. And we got all this clever artwork with Roman numerals and then we scratched it for just this 'splish-splosh' kind of cross, and then it just looked more like 'X' (the letter, not the numeral)."
"So, we really don't mind what anybody calls it any more, there's three in the band that think it's called 'X' and two that think it's called 'Ten', and it goes down quite humorously with the audience when we're actually arguing about it onstage!."
Joe Elliott (on recording) - 2002 Interview Quotes
“It wasn’t really a long year because it wasn’t all in one go, it was like (it took place) over a year. You know, we started recording in July, and we finished about the first week in April. So, you’re talking about nine months to record, and, we were writing while we were recording. We only went in the studio with about six songs to start off and we wrote the rest as we went along. But it was a blast, because we had three different producers working on this record, we did it in three different studios; and when we recorded at my place we were recording in two studios, so we were getting two things done at once rather than waiting around. And that made a big difference.”
"Nine tracks on the album were recorded at my house. Everything on the album vocally was done at my studio… all the backing tracks for the Marti Frederiksen productions were done in L.A. and the backing track for the Andreas Carlsson / Per Aldeheim song was done in Stockholm but, other than that everything was done in Dublin.”
Phil Collen - Pop Culture 2002 Interview Quote
"On this record, it was totally about pleasing ourselves. With previous albums, especially with 'Euphoria,' we were like, 'OK, we're going to make a record for the fans. We're going to make it sound like a pastiche of the Def Leppard career.' With this one, we felt that it was more about us."
Joe Elliott (on unused Mutt Lange song) - Madblast June 2001 Interview Quote
(On Marti Frederiksen's role) "Yeah, No it wouldn’t be the whole album. It’ll be as many as we deem necessary or we’re actually able to do with him. It’s not like building cabinets where you can start at 9am and you know exactly where you’re going. If the ideas don’t come they don’t come and the boss idea might come the day he jumps on a plane and goes home you know you just hope that it all works out. You know if we could get three or four, great if it’s only one or two fine. There’s other people that we’ll work with. We’ve got one song on the go with Mutt."
"Eventually we will anyway. I sent him a demo of one of mine that he really likes and he’s gonna mess with it. But he’s doing Shania right now so he’s very busy. So it’ll happen if and when it happens basically."
Joe Elliott (Album Update) - June 2002 Online Diary Quotes
"We finished mixing the album in London on the 7th of May 2002."
"We wanted something simple for the cover as, having decided on the title X ('TEN', not 'EX' - well, it is our 10th album) we figured on something striking and to the point. We DID go round the houses for a while, but having had a spot of lunch with an old friend who quite simply said that it should be very plain, we decided that this simple approach was exactly what we'd been looking for. Poor old Todd!!!!!
"Todd is Todd Perry, the sleeve designer who, for the last 4 months, had been bouncing ideas back and forth with me over a concept we had come up with. He had about one week to scrap all his hard work and re-design the sleeve. He has done an admiral job and deserves much credit for having to indulge 5 opinions from the band.
"On to the music! I must admit to having a struggle when it comes to describing new LEPP stuff. Imagine: for the first few weeks, you're just too close to it. If you try and listen to it, all you do is come to a part of a song which might have been bothering you and you freeze! Wait till it passes and then carry on doing what you were doing (this is something only us and whoever produces it can ever experience). You have to 'unlearn' all the bits that ever bothered you and that takes time! It does eventually go away and only then, you can listen to a new album impartially. Of course, by then, you're sick of it!!!!! Just kidding!
"I like to think we've done a great job with this album. I know EVERYBODY says that when they put a new album out, but I haven't had this feeling for a long time, and I didn't have it instantly. It grew on me..... I'll admit to having doubts about certain things, but I've come to realize that it was only because I was too close to it. I have now 'unlearned' and I hear it in a totally different way. I LOVE IT!!
Joe Elliott - Classic Rock 2002 Interview Quote
"Phil suggested we should just make a f**king pop record modelled on the bands that we grew up listening to, like Slade, Bowie, T. Rex and Mott The Hoople."
Phil Collen - Classic Rock 2002 Interview Quote
"I think of this album as a natural successor to Hysteria."
Rick Allen - August 2002 Interview Quotes
"We all got involved in the songwriting on this one. In the past we'd always work with just one producer. But on this one, there were many different elements that came into play. We decided it would be good to shop out certain songs and collaborate with different songwriters. It was interesting."
"Marti Frederiksen kind of set the tone for the record. Then we went up to Sweden and worked with the same producers who work with NSYNC and Britney Spears (Andreas Carlsson and Per Aldeheim). Now, you've got to understand that the contemporary sound isn't really in our DNA. So I don't think the idea of us trying to do it all ourselves was realistic. I think that it's good to embrace somebody who does it every day for a living, and that's really what we wanted to do. We wanted to embrace the new sound - not by completely using machines, but by using live percussion, creating loops. it's almost like musical collage. It was something I enjoyed doing."
Rick Allen - September 2002 Interview Quote
"I used this beautiful old vintage Ludwig kit that sounded wonderful. Producer Marti Frederiksen also brought some snare drums with him that were quite interesting, including a Pearl free-floating snare drum. The main snare we used was a Ludwig Black Beauty of mine from '83 or '84. My tech, Jerry Johnson, brought this 14x22 bass drum, and there was a 14" hanging tom, with 16" and 18" floor toms. This kit just sang. I felt like I was John Bonham."
Vivian Campbell - July 2002 Interview Quotes
"I've been with the band ten years actually and this is only my third studio album. I mean in between we did the Retro-Active and the Greatest Hits record. And this is far and away the best of the studio records that I've made with the band. The only one that I truly, truly feel happy with."
"And you know I think that feeling is universal amongst the other guys in the band. It was exactly what we wanted and it was an easy record to make too. It was a lot easier than the last couple of records in the 90s. This one went very smoothly."
Rick Savage (on outside songwriters) - September 2002 Interview Quotes
"When it came to Andreas Carlsson and Per Aldeheim, they really just sent us a tape. We did not intend to write with them. They just felt that it would be something that would sound like a Def Leppard song. We get so many tapes with songs on them that people say "sounds like a Def Leppard song." Nine times out of ten it sounds nothing like it! But this time, it did have a "Love Bites" vibe. So we felt that we could do it."
"Then they invited us to Sweden and they wanted to produce it. So we said, "great!" The beauty of this album for us and me in particular, was that we did not produce every single song on it. We had co-producers on it. It was great in that environment when all you had to think about was being a musician. For me, it was very refreshing to let someone else have control."
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