At first glance you may just think this is another Def Leppard Greatest hits LP and you would be right. But this is so much bigger than that, this is about the legacy of Def Leppard, their place in history and for that reason alone the next 12 months could be some of the most important in the band’s history. It may seem like a sweeping statement but Def Leppard now appear to be from that period of recent rock history that many seem happy to leave in the history books, the 80s hard rock and hair metal phases. Whereas the rest of the 80s seem to have been regurgitated over and over right down to having entire radio stations dedicated to them only a few of that period’s songs have made the cut – like Europe’s “Final Countdown” and early Bon Jovi. This is in many ways due to many bands misogynist lyrics and attitudes from that time, and quite rightly these songs and bands are best left in the rubbish bin of rock history.
Yet, with this sweeping brush comes other bands such as Def Leppard and The Story So Far is part of a two-CD release along with a re-release of the classic Hysteria album, 30 years after it originally exploded and took the world by storm. To push this, Def Leppard are on an arena tour playing the album in full and have also been announced as the Download Friday night headliners. This is truly is their time to remind you why they were so popular and why they are still producing such great albums as 2015’s self-titled album which we reviewed at the time.
To understand Def Leppard we have to look back in time to the late 70s and how some kids from Sheffield managed to be one of the only British bands of this period to dominate not just Europe but the US too. They have always been a juxtaposition in a way, Northern British but projecting an image of US glamour. This compilation actually mirrors their rise and with the quality, emotional depth and romance of many of their biggest hits the picture of this meteoric rise becomes more evident. This CD itself mainly concentrates on the big three albums. Pyromania, Hysteria (both of which sold over 10 million copies in the US) and Adrenalize and as a result this is actually an incredible set of songs.
What is probably surprising is that there isn’t anything from the first two albums. They really do provide you with the backdrop to the Def Leppard story, a band that followed punk, raised out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal but had what many considered at the time to have a US sound. The track list they have chosen though is basically killer. You would pretty much choose it yourself. What is striking as well is that it has been very carefully choreographed and works really well as a set of songs. If I saw them perform this live in this order I would be very happy.
When reviewing a greatest hits album it always difficult. Different people would choose different tracks and in a case like Def Leppard this isn’t the first (or probably the last) Greatest Hits you will come across but what is so good about this album is that if you are new to the band this really is a good overview of why they were so huge in their time. If you are revisiting or a fan then this is just a perfect compilation of songs that really do come and serve as a reminder of what a great band they were and still are.
Listening myself again this morning, it is hard to pick out some highlights but there are a couple that jump out for me. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is a great rocking ballad. “Let’s Get Rocked” from Adrenalize is just bouncy Def Leppard at their best. It’s not just the simplicity and positivity of the music and chorus but it has some great solos in their and manages to actually pull what could sound like a dated 80’s song right into the 90’s. “Rocket” mirrors this too, and I can remember even at the time being impressed by the production on that album. Hearing “Hysteria” is already getting me excited for the Sheffield hometown gig next week.
This is an excellent compilation by an excellent band that are still producing excellent records, and this next 12 months is their opportunity to remind people why they sold some many records and why a group of lads from Sheffield were able to take their dream and become worldwide superstars. Roll on the Hysteria tour.
- Animal (Hysteria)
- Photograph (Pyromania)
- Pour Some Sugar on Me (Hysteria)
- Love Bites (Hysteria)
- Let’s Get Rocked (Adrenalize)
- Armageddon It (Hysteria)
- Foolin’ (Pyromania)
- Two Steps Behind (Adrenalize)
- Heaven Is (Adrenalize)
- Rocket (Adrenalize)
- Hysteria (Hysteria)
- Have You Ever Needed Somebody (Adrenalize)
- Make Love Like A Man (Adrenalize)
- Action (Adrenalize)
- When Love and Hate Collide (Slang)
- Rock of Ages (Pyromania)
- Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode Cover)
The Story So Far – The Best Of is out now