NEW VINYL – DEF LEPPARD
Def Leppard – Def Leppard (earMUSIC)
Genre: Hard Rock
Details: Double disc heavyweight vinyl/Gatefold sleeve/Lyric inserts
Lavishly spread across two weighty slabs of black wax, the latest set of Def Leppard material has been seven years in the making and nearly never happened at all.
Not so long ago de facto band leader and Planet Rock Radio DJ Joe Elliott declared the death of the album. It seems his protestations were just a little premature.
Not long after Elliott fired off his missive, rock and metal’s flag bearers began denting the album charts with refreshing regularity. Vinyl’s revival played its part and in spite of easily acquired downloads, sharing and streams, it seemed there was a market for the old fashioned long player after all.
Leppard’s long awaited response is a self-titled album that’s both assured and ambitious. Not ambitious in terms of breaking the mould – Sheffield’s finest know where their bread’s buttered after five decades in the business – but bold in terms of celebrating the Leppard blueprint with unapologetic bombast.
This is part Pyromania, a whole heap of Hysteria and a sprinkling of predecessor Songs From The Sparkle Lounge. It’s trademark Leppard in every respect and completely out of step with the current trend for stripped down, good time classic rock and roll as favoured by Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke, The Temperance Movement et al.
And of course that will be music to every Leppard fan’s ears. They don’t want their stadium rockers of choice making another wrong move just to join a new gang (remember the woeful Slang) – they want to hear a band comfortable in its own skin and capable of skinning the opposition alive.
Def Leppard the album is the sound of a band that’s both of the above and more. Let’s Go screams Elliott on the bullish, chart-friendly opener and it’s an invitation even the most cynical rocker would be hard pressed to refuse.
And so we’re off. Dangerous doesn’t exactly do what it says on the tin (you’ll discover more perilous tracks on a 1D record) but it’s a rare mis-step. Man Enough is good enough even if it sounds like a 12 inch remix of Leppard favourite Rock On and We Belong is a rallying call for the band’s ever-faithful fans.
Side B benefits from the brilliant Beatles-esque Sea Of Love – a dreamy, deliciously soppy ballad on a par with Love Bites, Heaven Is and Two Steps Behind. Let’s face it – no band does love songs quite like Leppard do.
Side C is a more robust affair with Battle Of My Own and the feisty Forever Young serving notice that the NWOBHM trailblazers are here to stay (although it’s not as if they’ve ever been away). The latter proves particularly poignant given Vivian Campbell’s brave battle with cancer during the recording process and beyond.
Just the two songs on Side D leave disc two a little light but set closer Blind Faith is perfectly positioned. It’s what Leppard and their fans boast in spades. And it’s what makes these British treasures so very special.
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Def Jam
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.