Def Leppard – Songs From The Sparkle Lounge

Mike sent me this one, as well as one single, a while back. It’s interesting to have this here because I haven’t owned a Def Leppard album since I had Pyromania on cassette (!) as a kid. Funny thing is, I’d call myself a fan, I like what they do well enough. I just don’t own any of it except what Mike sent my way!

Alright, so I was 9 years old when Pyromania was released. I loved it. I heard some of the big singles, along the way. And years later, I was drummer in a band, and the guitar player was (probably still is) a HUGE Def Leppard fan. Talked about them a lot. Fast forward through gaps of not hearing anything from these guys to today, when I am hearing this 2008 album. Ready? Of course you are!

First off, lemme just get out of the way that I find the title and the cover art amusingly bad. Seriously. You’re global superstars, rock heroes. And this is what you name your record? And you OK that cover? Oh dear. Anyway. Carry on, gentlemen.

Go is definitely heavy, and chugs along with some menace. I like it. It still sounds like Def Leppard always did, though there’s something a bit 90s to it too, I think in the vocals. Wish I could say why or explain such a nebulous statement… Nine Lives sounds like Def Leppard doing new country rock when it starts off. Not a criticism, just something I noticed. But then the chorus kicks in and there’s that signature sound. It’s a weird mix. Yeehaw. Decent track, though.

C’mon C’mon brings back the heavier guitars (maybe should’ve paired it with Go), and it’s a very fun fist-pumper. Something J. Geils Band about it, but I’ll bet this song would be tons of fun in concert… Love, well, here we go. I was expecting the pretty, acoustic tune and here it is. I could hear Bryan Adams singing this one, of all people. It becomes a fairly standard rock ballad slow dancer. But as it gets to the 2:40 mark or so I totally hear Queen. Then a big, ripping metal solo with machine gun backing… This track is all over the place and gets more interesting as it goes. This would be a fave track so far.

Tomorrow is a rocker right out of the gate, though the ‘hoo hoo hoo’ in the intro is a bit silly. That could just be me, though, I mean, power to them, and all. You know what, this song sounds like only Def Leppard sounds. If they have a typical sound, this would be it… Cruise Control has a fun and slinky bass line. Oh man, why does Stabbing Westward come to mind, here? Ah, but then the chorus is totally DL again. Interesting. Not a stand-out track but definitely serviceable. Also, never name a song Cruise Control. It makes me think that’s what you were on during the writing.

Hallucinate is a bad-ass rocker. I like this. I find it amazing how it doesn’t matter what they do in the verses and bridges, the chorus always just screams Def Leppard. Good guitar solo here, short as it is. A well-constructed tune… Only The Good Die Young is, sadly, not a Bily Joel cover. Instead, it’s a soft intro that becomes a weird Queen/U2 mix before taking off in rock mode. Mid-tempo, with the whole 90s dynamics package: quiet verse, loud chorus, bridge to solo, followed by a quiet bit just to show they’re serious, let it hang a second and then back to the loud chorus. You know what I mean.

Bad Actress shows some real life, off to full gallop out of the gates. Now THIS is something I like! Finally some real rawk! This is gonna be a fave from the record, I just know it. Yup, I’d make this one top of the list… Come Undone brings the half-tempo chug back. Another basic Def Leppard track. It’s not a bad thing, just all I could think was yup, there they are. And Gotta Let It Go starts out so quietly, and I sat here just waiting for the inevitable crash burst. Ah, there it is. Nice use of dynamics. Not a bas track to end an album.

In sum: For not having heard much of these guys since I was a kid, I enjoyed this. It works better as a whole than as a collection of would-be singles. My huge thanks to Mike for sharing this with me. I’d likely never have heard it if left to my own devices!

***For Mike’s superior and informed review, you should immediately go here.

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Posted on February 20, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Yeah,compared to the releases before this Euphoria and X this is a pretty good rock release from them well below the 80s haul mind you but at least they get back to some rock.
    The one problem I had was the Nine Lives song just them following trends at the time by latching there Leppard wagon to big country Honcho at the time.
    I really hate shit like that….they could have done the song themselves and it would have been fine and as it turns out no one really cared anyways when they put this out…..
    Still at least they found there old Marshall’s and turned up the volume….and considering as well at the time they were getting into the rut of releasing Greatest Hits releases ie.Vault and Rock Of Ages compilations it was good to see original material out albeit not classic but still good…..
    Ok having said all this…..I have not listened to this in a few yrs so I now I gotta check it out……
    Cool review liked the J Geils name drop….u made me trip back to grade ten and the Centerfold video!
    Hahahaha……

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  2. Urghh… that title and cover! It made have meant something to them but nobody else! Makes you wonder who they get their advice from, if anyone.

    I was worried about Nine Lives cause everyone was going on about the country thing… sounded like Def Leppard to me! I actually think a lot these ultra-popular country acts sound a bit like watered-down DL anyway (probably due to Mutt Lange doing… sorry, producing… Shania Twain). Just a thought.

    I agree with Deke though, not quite up there with the 80s Lep but an upswing in quality anyway and I enjoyed it when it was released. Cruise Control is a real grower, that’s my favourite on the album now.

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    • I stared at that cover for quite a while and I could not make sense of why this was released as it is. I mean, maybe this is the mock-up and it somehow slipped through into production and wasn’t caught before zillions of copies were printed? Man, SOMEBODY lost their job THAT day!

      As for the country/rock/Lange thing:

      1) if you were hitting that, you’d have one focus too! hahaha

      2) I’ve said for years that this ‘new country’ is just retreading old 80s rock. Watch the videos, they think they’re Van Halen or something. Whatever, it sells records. And it legitimizes listening to rock while keeping it under the country umbrella, so all the shitkickers can still feel good about saying they’re country-strong when all they really wanna do is rock out with their cock out.

      3) This would also explain the Bryan Adams thought, come to think of it…

      I’ll see if Cruise Control grows on me. I’d still pick Bad Actress first.

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    • Definitely an upswing in quality. Bodes well for the next one.

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  3. Bang on review. I agree with everything here. My favourite song is “Gotta Let It Go”. I really do like that one and I still listen to it fairly frequently.

    The signature vocal sound I think is the mixture of Joe and Phil with the usual Def Lep embellishment. I think that’s who does 90% of the vocals of the choruses.

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    • Thanks! Like I said, I was nervous writing this up. I don’t know much about these guys except the hits. I just write from the gut. I could totally have bombed it! Maybe if I’d been drunk, I would have! haha.

      Gotta Let It Go is a good one, for sure.

      Yeah, that sound is those two voices and the production. It’s totally obvious who it is when they get to the chorus. Crazy.

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      • Well dude it’s a great time to be talking about Def Leppard. There’s more buzz about them these days than there has been in a long time. I know the fear of writing about stuff outside the “zone of knowledge” or whatever you want to call it. However you did the right thing, write from the guy and say what you hear. By coincidence I just happen to agree with what you heard!

        In context of the previous 2 or 3 albums though, this was a godsend. The last 2 albums were really pop sellouts, blatantly.

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      • Well, great minds do think alike. And fools seldom differ… oh dear… 🙂

        I really wanna get into the early stuff. You recommended it to me several times, I really should just pony up and get the first few.

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        • I have two reviews in the pipe of some classic Def Leppard — stayed tuned. One of them is a must-have and a must-have specifically on vinyl. I’ll explain more later, but we’ll get you a copy in TO for under $10 I hope.

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      • Oooo I am indeed intrigued…

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  4. On Through The Night & High N Dry are total classics….I,won’t say anymore until Mike throws down the review but a friend of mine back in 81 or so had a older sister whose boyfriend saw Leppard open for Blackfoot at some Boston University and I remember him saying Leppard kicked Blackfoot right up the ass and blew off of the stage so I knew by that Lep was going places and even peaked my curiosity even more but it took me a full 11 yrs(1992) to see em live and I was lucky enough to see em live twice over 6 weeks in 2 different cities on there Adranalize tour…

    Mike is right saying that this is the first time in a ling while there’s been a street buzz on them again…..
    I just hope they don’t fuck it up

    Like

    • Yep, those are the records Mike has mentioned before (and I may as well pick up Pyromania again too). Maybe next Taranna trip. I’m glad for them there’s some buzz. They’ve been at this a long time, so good on ’em. As for them fucking it up, what could possibly go wrong? 😉

      Like

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