Def Leppard were the first band that I was what one would call a ‘fan’ of, in the true sense of the word. I was nine years old and loved AC/DC but WOW – “Hysteria” was a total game changer for me and I wore my cassette copy out along with the album cover artwork t-shirt that I wore until it was falling apart and grey from hundreds of washes. With all that said, I know that the band’s output since “Adrenalize” has been pretty forgettable, let’s be honest. Even half of that record was pretty sub-standard. We will forgive them though, because there is the small fact that albums one to four were all killer, no filler.
There is one thing, other than great rock songs, that has kept Def Leppard credible – the fact that they have never tried to be credible. They simply do not care whether they’re seen as cool or not. They have always worn their ambitions and acts they look up to and take influence from on their collective sleeve. They wanted to be the biggest band in the world and, for a time in the late ’80s, they were easily one of them.
Ok, so when a band eponymously titles a record it usually means that there is change afoot, a new beginning, a lack of ideas or often it is because they feel this record perhaps ties all their eras together and has a ‘definitive’ feel to it. Two things need made clear here – firstly, that last reason I mentioned there is definitely the case, and secondly, “Def Leppard” is fucking awesome! It rules, period.
They have taken cues from their whole back catalog without being derivative. They also at no point make a cringeworthy effort to sound current and, by that very act, sound absolutely like they have a place in 2015. Def Leppard fans new and old will cream over this. It might surprise you that this is pretty much the second record from their repertoire I would reference for trying to get someone into the band.
The production is typically pretty slick and polished but not overly so this time around. The undeniable fact about the Leps is that they never suffer live as they are as slick as the records anyway, with five guys who can all play and sing out of the safety of the studio to an unusually high standard. Joe Elliot sounds as great as ever here and has obviously looked after his voice through the years. I am being presumptuous here but, based on the past, Phil Collen will have played all if not the majority of the guitar solos and he yet again proves that he is one of the best players out there. He really is criminally underrated.
I am not going to go into songs here because there is just really no need. You just need to get it and enjoy all 14 tracks, but at the very least, if someone you know doesn’t enjoy anthemic opener ‘Let’s Go’ or the rocking ‘All Time High’ then please just pronounce them dead.
Awesome – welcome back, lads!