DEF LEPPARD

"Viva Hysteria" (Frontiers; 2013)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Viva Hysteria" is first a live celebration of one of Def Leppard's most popular albums, "Hysteria." In fact, the first twelve tracks (and most of disc 1 on this voluminous 3-disc set) are a live performance of that particular album, performed at the legendary The Joint in Las Vegas (at the Hard Rock Hotel). Disc 1 closes out with "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" from their 1983 album "Pyromania." The band is tight and tough on Disc 1, sounding as good as ever. I have always been a fan of Def Leppard's live sound. It's more genuine, more real, less manufactured. Don't get me wrong, I like the studio recordings a lot, but the live stuff always sounded great to me. "Viva Hysteria" captures that brilliantly.

Disc 2 is perhaps even more interesting. It's a collection of songs the band performed as their own opening act, under the moniker Ded Flatbird. On this second CD are tons of older Def Leppard stuff you probably haven't heard in ages, if you've ever heard them at all. Starting with the rollicking "Good Morning Freedom," and raging through classics like "High N Dry," "On Through the Night" and "Wasted," Disc 2 is a time travelling trip through Def Leppard's history. Everything sounds great here as well, especially their cover of Sweet's "Action."

Our review copy didn't include a copy of the DVD so we can't speak to that, but the double CD audio portion of this amazing package is evidence as to why Def Leppard has been such a popular band for so many years. Longtime fans will love everything hear and those new to the band (if there are any) could do worse than start here with their Def Leppard collection.

For more information, check out http://www.defleppard.com

"Yeah!" (Island; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

You would have thought that this whole fad of covering the songs of the bands that inspired you would have faded by now. But then you hear a CD like Def Leppard's "Yeah!" and you realize there might be a reason these kinds of releases continue to be recorded and released.

"Yeah!" is a, for the most part, surprisingly faithful covers of bands that Def Leppard counts as influences. Covered on "Yeah!" are classic tunes by the Kinks, Badfinger, T. Rex, David Bowie, Sweet, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Free, Faces, Thin Lizzy and more. The songs are all classic tunes and  Def Leppard gives them the respect they deserve. I mean, why would you fuck around with Bowie's "Drive-In Saturday," Sweet's "Hell Raiser" or Thin Lizzy's "Don't Believe a Word"? The answer is: You wouldn't! You'd just play them with the passion and respect they deserve.

And that's what Def Leppard does throughout "Yeah!" They play the songs of their idols (and Blondie, strangely enough) with a straight-forward and heartfelt attitude. And it works. Listening to "Yeah!" is light years more fun than the band's "X" album and, maybe, just maybe, will get them back on the right track.

There are a few surprises here and they're welcome, too. But "Yeah!" is a celebration of the bands whose influence led to the creation of what eventually became Def Leppard. And, as a celebration, it entertains nearly flawlessly.

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott - lead vocals; Rick Savage - bass guitar, vocals; Rick Allen - drums; Vivian Campbell - guitar/vocals; Phil Collen - guitar/vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.defleppard.com

"X" (Mercury; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Swear to God this is a true story:

We were in the car, heading out for our summer vacation. It was about a five hour drive to our destination from home, so I had packed up a bunch of CDs to listen to along the way. First up was "X," the latest CD from the seemingly ever-popular Def Leppard. 

Well, we managed to get through track 1, "Now," okay. It still has some of that classic Def Leppard pop rock vibe. But after track 2 and halfway through track 3, my 12-year old nephew asked, "What is this? N'Sync?"

He wasn't kidding. And it dawned on me that there really isn't that much difference between the new Def Leppard CD and the latest from any of the more popular boy bands out there. Yikes!

Unfortunately, that's the big problem with "X." The CD focuses so much on the "pop" angle of the band's pop rock mix that, unlike previous Def Leppard efforts, "X" comes across as pop schlock, not pop rock. Sure, there are a few tracks that still deliver a punch - "Now," "Four Letter Word," "Cry" - but there are more that don't. 

It's not that "X" is a bad album. It isn't, if this is the type of music you're looking for. However, if you - like me - miss the old days of "Hysteria" and "Pyromania," pick up the band's greatest hits package, "Vault," instead.

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott - lead vocals; Rick "Sav" Savage - bass guitar, vocals; Rick Allen - drums; Vivian Campbell - guitar/vocals; Phil Collen - guitar/vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.defleppard.com

"Euphoria" (Mercury; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I don't know if Def Leppard will ever be as popular as they were when "Hysteria" was all the rage, but I do know this: This band will be around as long as they keep delivering the kind of music that their vast legion of fans wants to hear.

"Euphoria" may not be "Hysteria," but it's pretty good. Fans of that unique Leppard sound will find it in spades herein. The CD begins with "Demolition Man," a song that turned into a minor hit for the band, and a solid rocker that moves along at a quick clip.

"Promises" is next and it brings to mind the days of "Photograph," probably because it sounds a little like that song. This one would have been a huge hit in the 80s.

"Back In Your Face" almost sounds like a hard rock disco number with its syncopated beat and punchy rhythm. "Goodbye" is the type of ballad that Leppard has excelled at in the past but that are somewhat boring today. "All Night" is a strange little ditty with jive guitars and an artist-formerly-known-as-Prince beat.

"Paper Sun" is one of the better numbers on the disc, combining real rock guitar with that classic Leppard sound. It's not a heavy tune but it's strong and well-written.

The rest of the tunes on the CD are neither particularly good or particularly bad but rather typical Leppard tunes that are worth a listen. They may not ingrain themselves into your musical memory but they're acceptable.

As I said earlier, Def Leppard fans will be all over "Euphoria." The band's trademark sound is fluent throughout and those who made Def Leppard so huge in the 80s will eat it up. Of course, that means that those who never liked the band won't be discovering anything new here either. But, at this point, that doesn't really matter.

For more information, please visit http://www.defleppard.com

Def Leppard: Rick Allen, drums; Phil Collen, guitar/vocals; Joe Elliott, lead vocals; Vivian Campbell, guitar/vocals; Rick "Sav" Savage, bass guitar/vocals.

"Hysteria" (Mercury; 1987)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

There isn't much I can say about this disc that hasn't already been written about in more languages than most of us can speak, but I'll try to add something. This was Def Leppard's fourth disc and what a monstrous release it was: seven hit singles, videos, sold-out arenas; it was a banner time for the Lepps. All this success didn't just happen without some tragedy though. Rick Allen lost his arm in a car crash and Steve Clark later losing his battle with the bottle. The other side of the coin shouldn't remain so dark.

The music contained within "Hysteria" wasn't what fans of Def Leppard expected. The songs are radio friendly and Joe Elliot, along with each member, recorded their respective part separately. The whole concept was to make each song a hit so lots of electronic elements were used: the Rockman amplifier (created by Boston's Tom Scholz) was used on all the guitar parts and the vocals were layered to have lead and background heard at the same time. Despite the differences,  "Hysteria" has sold more than 20 million copies and it also clocks in at 62:52 which, at the time, was their longest record to date. "Hysteria" was produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange.

There was a dual disc deluxe edition released around the same time with four new tracks on Disc 1 and Disc 2 contained eleven songs that were either live or remixed tracks from the studio release. If you're a fan who's been jonesing for some vintage Def Leppard, check it out.

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott lead vocals; Steve Clark guitars; Phil Collen guitars; Rick Savage bass; Rick Allen drums.

For more information, check out http://www.defleppard.com.

"Pyromania: Deluxe Edition" (Vertigo; 1983/2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

One good thing about the music of the '80s is that some of the great stuff gets re-mastered. Those who will grow up in the digital age won't ever know any different. This is the third release from Def Leppard and the first to feature Phil Collen on guitar -- he is not credited with any of the song writing though. Pete Willis was the lead guitar player but he was fired by the band and Phil Collen came in to add his solos to Pete's rhythm tracks. The guitar of Phil Collen added some great guitar solos and helped to beef up a lot of the songs.

Since most of the guitar parts had already been recorded by Willis it was a chance for Phil Collen (who had just left the band Girl) to come in behind and add his own style and, if you really listen, you can hear the difference on the song "Die Hard the Hunter." Joe Elliot's vocals are in superb form and he belts out each song with British power.

Thanks to MTV and heavy metal still ruling the charts at the time you got to see some great bands via their videos. "Photograph," "Foolin''" and "Rock of Ages" all saw heavy rotation on MTV. (MTV stands for Music Television. I had to let those know who might not otherwise because, today, you couldn't tell).

"Pyromania" was re-released in 2009 with a digitally re-mastered disc that also included the 1983 L.A. Forum concert that was edited the first time around. This time all the missing parts were added in and it even features Brian May on the song "Travellin' Band." Remember, "It's Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away."

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott lead vocals; Steve Clark guitars; Phil Collen guitars; Rick Savage bass; Rick Allen drums; Pete Willis rhythm guitars.

For more information, check out http://www.defleppard.com.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2014 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 May 2017 21:24:57 -0400 .