A Def Leppard Marathon – From Hysteria to Songs from the Sparkle Lounge

I have yet to figure out if each tragedy the band Def Leppard encountered leads to a success or each success curses them with a tragedy.

In year 1983, the UK rock band Def Leppard became famous after their third album “Pyromania” reached 10 times platinum in US alone.  In the following year, the drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash.  I remember reading an article from a magazine while I was in UK.  A dramatic article on the return of the one arm drummer a few years after the accident.

After the car crash due to speeding, Rick Allen lost an arm.  You can imagine how disappointed the rest of the band felt.  First, the breakthrough, then the uncertainty.  But what about the young drummer?  Legend has it that he did not wish to give up but instead, he was determined to return to his career with three limbs and the help of electronic drum paddles.  In one dramatic evening, while the rest of the band members were having a drink at a lounge – their usual drinking place – without him, Rick Allen walked into the room.  I suppose some band members might notice his entrance but I would imagine that they were still mad at Rick and his recklessness.  So, no one was paying attention to Rick Allen.

Rick continued to walk to a drum-set set at the center of the room, and he started to play the drums.  At that very moment, vocalist and I suppose leader of the band Joe Elliott closed his eyes.  The sound of the drums filled his head, squeezed out all the resentment he has, and took him back in time.  A time when Rick still had his two good arms.  According to what I read, Joe Elliot couldn’t tell the difference.

So, there was life after “Pyromania” after all.  And a happy ending.  “Hysteria” hit twelve times platinum in US and perhaps, that fourth album is the peak of their career.

In year 1991, their legendary guitarist Steve Clark died due to alcoholism.  The following year, “Adrenalize” was released with a moderate success – three times platinum.   After “Adrenalize”, Def Leppard repackaged their b-side and unreleased tracks during the era of “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize” and named the album “Retro Active”.  Since I in particularly love that era, these three albums hold a dear place in my heart.

After that, their long time producer, Robert John “Mutt” Lange (once married to famous country singer Shania Twain) called it quit.  “Sling” is meant to be an album that expresses the true image of Def Leppard without Mutt Lange.  I personally like the uniqueness and freshness of that album but the mass media said otherwise.  “Euphoria” is forgettable and “X” is a joke.  I vowed not to buy any Def Leppard album, ever.

Then I bought “Songs from the Sparkle Lounge”.

Despite the lingering feeling of years of betrayal, I gave their 10th studio album a try.  The first song “Go” gripped me.  No way this is Def Leppard!  It sounds more like Korn.  I love the guitar solo too!  The next song “Nine Lives” is the album’s first single featuring country singer Tim McGraw.  OK, it is kind of old school rock and I didn’t love it at first listen.  Why choose “Nine Lives” as a single?  After a few listens, it does grow onto me.  And I agree, “Nine Lives” is probably one that has a better chance to stand the test of time.

It was the slow killer ballad “Love” that sealed the deal.  I do not have any of their albums prior to “Hysteria” and in the last week or so, I had a Def Leppard marathon listening to all their albums from “Hysteria” onwards.  I don’t think they have made anything like “Love” before.  That song is totally old school.  Cynthia thought that it sounds like a song from Queen.

Lyrically, some songs still remind me of the same old trivial stuffs such as “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Make Love Like a Man”. But check out the extract of the song “Cruise Control”.

I hear my god he calls my name
I must atone all men can change
and for my god I ring the bell
I will condemn the infidel

Mostly up tempo and mostly rock, I am happy that “Songs from the Sparkle Lounge” has revealed yet another side of the band.  It may not be as great as the “Hysteria” era but it is way better than any of their recent releases – if that means anything to you.

So tell me, how much do you love the old school rock music?

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