In the second of our series celebrating a new golden age in rock – akin to our favourite late 80s era – rushonrock looks at two career-defining records spanning 21 years of the mighty Def Leppard.

Now 2008: Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (Mercury) is like a Greatest Hits record showcasing all-new material. If that makes any sense. Drawing on a sound crafted over three decades, Joe and the boys bring everything they’ve ever done to the table and add a 21st century polish.

SFTSL may kick off with the countryfied Nine Lives but even the singalong Tim McGraw collaboration is a typical slice of radio friendly rock. Multi-layered ballad Love is an acquired taste but will surely go down as a classic – even if it’s expansive range could cause Mr Elliott a few problems in the live arena.

Our personal fave on this brilliant record is the anthemic Only The Good Die Young although latest single C’Mon C’Mon pushes it close. Why the band saved Bad Actress for the encore of their recent UK stadium shows is anyone’s guess as it’s quite plainly the poorest tune to make an otherwise flawless collection.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Leppard in Sparkling form.

…And Then 1987: Hysteria (Mercury) ranked alongside Whitesnake’s 1987 as the album to define the hair metal age. Spawning SIX hit singles, a series of made-for-MTV video clips and multi-million sales this record inspired a raft of US bands with high maintenence perms to pursue their rock dreams.

Meanwhile back in the UK and first single Animal cruised into the Top 10 to remind a domestic audience that for all Leppard’s reliance on Mutt Lange’s groundbreaking production this was a band with a truly British sound. Beefy, ballsy and hitting the late 80s bullseye this would be the song that won back the thousands who deserted the Defs post-Pyromania.

Pour Some Sugar On Me had the same impact across the Pond but it’s difficult to find a dud track on Hysteria. So Excitable isn’t the best Leppard tune you’ll ever here but scores of the band’s late 80s contemporaries would have killed to include this song high up side A.

Gods Of War – one of the few songs which didn’t make it as a single – is simply stunning and the sooner it makes a long-awaited live comeback the better. If you don’t know the Lepps then this simply has to be the starting point. Just don’t expect everything they’ve ever done to be this good.

rushonrock rated: 10/10. Lepperfection.