"Diamond Star Halos" (UMe; 2022)

Reviewed by Snidermann

One of the things I always thought was cool about the band Def Leppard was that they were about the same age as me. In the 80s, that meant more than it does now. Now they are just old rockers ... like me.

The name of this recording is "Diamond Star Halos." It could very well be their best ever recording. "Diamond Star Halos" shows the experience of what a rock band can and will do with a few decades under their belt. Solid, extremely tight, well-produced music has been a staple of Def Leppard's sound from the start and "Diamond Star Halos" is just more of that ... and that's exactly what I was looking for.

Outstanding, catchy, sing-along tunes that are foot-stomping rock'n'roll. That's what "Diamond Star Halos" is all about. I've already spun this thing ten times so far as I prepared for this interview and I enjoyed every single listen. Def Leppard has endured its share of heartache, but they still shine with an intensity that few bands can achieve.

This could very well be the best release of 2022 but, with half the year left, we'll see.

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"Hits Vegas" (Eagle Rock; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As I've often said on these pages, one thing I love from any band is a double-live album. There's just something about having two full discs (or two full discs' worth of downloads) that's a little epic, that makes you part of the event whether you were actually there or not.

Def Leppard "Hits Vegas" is, of course, the audio version of the Las Vegas portion of the below-reviewed "London to Vegas" package. And, as mentioned in the review below, the attraction here is a) the band's stellar performance and b) some songs that haven't been performed live in years (or perhaps ever at all), including "Die Hard the Hunter," "Too Late For Love," "Billy’s Got A Gun," "Slang," and "Promises." The hits are here as well, in case you're looking for "Animal," "Hysteria," "Pour Some Sugar on Me" or virtually any of your other favorites. It's over two hours and 28 tracks of pure rock'n'roll ecstasy.

The only reason I'm giving this live recording three-and-a-half guitarsaws instead of four is because you don't get the visual portion of the show here. But, then, you can't watch the video portion when you're driving down the road, either (or, I guess, maybe I should say you shouldn't be) and you can save some $$ at the same time.

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"Hysteria at the 02" (Eagle Rock; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I'd repeat what I said above about double-live albums, but I think you've got the point now. The great thing about "Hysteria at the 02" and the above-reviewed "Hits Vegas" is that we've got not just one but two double-live albums on our hands.

"Hysteria at the 02" is the audio version of the London portion of the below-reviewed "London to Vegas" package. This collection differs from "Hits Vegas" in that—as promised in the title—if features the entire classic "Hysteria" album recorded live, plus a second disc of "Before and After" tracks including "Wasted" (1980),  "When Love and Hate Collide" (1995), "Let's Get Rocked" (1992), "Rock Of Ages" (1983) and Photograph (1981). The band sounds just as great on the new tunes as the old ones ("Wasted" is particularly nice to hear) and, as mentioned elsewhere, hearing "Hysteria" live reminds you of what a great album it is.

As with "Hits Vegas," I'm giving this live recording three-and-a-half guitarsaws instead of four is because you don't get the visual portion of the show here but, if you're just looking for the music, it's all here.

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"London to Vegas" (Eagle Rock; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"London to Vegas" is an incredible 6-disc package featuring one of the most popular bands of all time performing live at two iconic venues. The first show is the band's 2018 performance of their legendary "Hysteria" album, in its entirety, at the 02 Arena in London. The second is Def Leppard performing at their residency in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino.

Before we get into the individual shows, let me just say that the concerts captured herein are some of the best I've ever seen (without being live in the audience). The video is crystal clear, the audio perfect and the performances electric. The stages (and, yes, they are different) are jaw-dropping—and that's just from watching them on TV. I can't imagine how awesome if would have been to be there watching it live.

The 02 show (on Blu-Ray Disc #1 and CDs #3 & #4) is interesting because the band is performing their 1987 album "Hysteria" in its entirety. Watching this performance on Blu-Ray will remind you how great that album is, and why it went on to sell 25 million copies. The band is terrific throughout, performing with a solid confidence and energy that transfers to the audience as well. And for those of you who are concerned that they band can't perform an album today that they recorded almost 35 years ago let me put your mind at ease. "Hysteria," live, sounds great.

Most notable about the Las Vegas Residency show (on Blu-Ray Disc #2 and CDs #5 & #6) is the elaborate stage set. As they band says during the surprisingly insightful mini-documentary included herein, they are able to do more with the Las Vegas stage than their travelling stage because they don't have to tear it down and move it night after night. It shows. As impressive as the 02 set was, the Las Vegas show is mind-blowing with giant screens behind the set, a flashier light show and the opportunity for the band to slow down and perform a brief acoustic set. The band also decided to include some of their lesser-performed songs including, "Too Late For Love," "Billy’s Got A Gun," "Slang," and "Promises" (which may not mean much for the casual fan but means a lot to the die-hards.) And, once again, the band's performance is spot-on.

As mentioned above, also included is a "mini-documentary" which is only about 22 minutes of programming total (it's divided into two parts) but which features a hell of a lot of information. It shows the band onstage prior to concerts, making show decisions that will affect the upcoming live performance, it shows interaction with the crew and it's very candid and genuine. You'll learn a lot about how each of these shows came together during that short running time. I know I did.

"London to Vegas" is pricy but you get a lot for your money. If you're a Def Leppard fan, you're definitely going to want this on your shelf.

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"Viva Hysteria" (Frontiers; 2013)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Viva Hysteria" is first a live celebration of one of Def Leppard's most popular albums, "Hysteria." In fact, the first twelve tracks (and most of disc 1 on this voluminous 3-disc set) are a live performance of that particular album, performed at the legendary The Joint in Las Vegas (at the Hard Rock Hotel). Disc 1 closes out with "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" from their 1983 album "Pyromania." The band is tight and tough on Disc 1, sounding as good as ever. I have always been a fan of Def Leppard's live sound. It's more genuine, more real, less manufactured. Don't get me wrong, I like the studio recordings a lot, but the live stuff always sounded great to me. "Viva Hysteria" captures that brilliantly.

Disc 2 is perhaps even more interesting. It's a collection of songs the band performed as their own opening act, under the moniker Ded Flatbird. On this second CD are tons of older Def Leppard stuff you probably haven't heard in ages, if you've ever heard them at all. Starting with the rollicking "Good Morning Freedom," and raging through classics like "High N Dry," "On Through the Night" and "Wasted," Disc 2 is a time travelling trip through Def Leppard's history. Everything sounds great here as well, especially their cover of Sweet's "Action."

Our review copy didn't include a copy of the DVD so we can't speak to that, but the double CD audio portion of this amazing package is evidence as to why Def Leppard has been such a popular band for so many years. Longtime fans will love everything hear and those new to the band (if there are any) could do worse than start here with their Def Leppard collection.

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"Yeah!" (Island; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

You would have thought that this whole fad of covering the songs of the bands that inspired you would have faded by now. But then you hear a CD like Def Leppard's "Yeah!" and you realize there might be a reason these kinds of releases continue to be recorded and released.

"Yeah!" is a, for the most part, surprisingly faithful covers of bands that Def Leppard counts as influences. Covered on "Yeah!" are classic tunes by the Kinks, Badfinger, T. Rex, David Bowie, Sweet, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Free, Faces, Thin Lizzy and more. The songs are all classic tunes and  Def Leppard gives them the respect they deserve. I mean, why would you fuck around with Bowie's "Drive-In Saturday," Sweet's "Hell Raiser" or Thin Lizzy's "Don't Believe a Word"? The answer is: You wouldn't! You'd just play them with the passion and respect they deserve.

And that's what Def Leppard does throughout "Yeah!" They play the songs of their idols (and Blondie, strangely enough) with a straight-forward and heartfelt attitude. And it works. Listening to "Yeah!" is light years more fun than the band's "X" album and, maybe, just maybe, will get them back on the right track.

There are a few surprises here and they're welcome, too. But "Yeah!" is a celebration of the bands whose influence led to the creation of what eventually became Def Leppard. And, as a celebration, it entertains nearly flawlessly.

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott - lead vocals; Rick Savage - bass guitar, vocals; Rick Allen - drums; Vivian Campbell - guitar/vocals; Phil Collen - guitar/vocals.

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"X" (Mercury; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Swear to God this is a true story:

We were in the car, heading out for our summer vacation. It was about a five hour drive to our destination from home, so I had packed up a bunch of CDs to listen to along the way. First up was "X," the latest CD from the seemingly ever-popular Def Leppard. 

Well, we managed to get through track 1, "Now," okay. It still has some of that classic Def Leppard pop rock vibe. But after track 2 and halfway through track 3, my 12-year old nephew asked, "What is this? N'Sync?"

He wasn't kidding. And it dawned on me that there really isn't that much difference between the new Def Leppard CD and the latest from any of the more popular boy bands out there. Yikes!

Unfortunately, that's the big problem with "X." The CD focuses so much on the "pop" angle of the band's pop rock mix that, unlike previous Def Leppard efforts, "X" comes across as pop schlock, not pop rock. Sure, there are a few tracks that still deliver a punch - "Now," "Four Letter Word," "Cry" - but there are more that don't. 

It's not that "X" is a bad album. It isn't, if this is the type of music you're looking for. However, if you - like me - miss the old days of "Hysteria" and "Pyromania," pick up the band's greatest hits package, "Vault," instead.

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott - lead vocals; Rick "Sav" Savage - bass guitar, vocals; Rick Allen - drums; Vivian Campbell - guitar/vocals; Phil Collen - guitar/vocals.

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"Euphoria" (Mercury; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I don't know if Def Leppard will ever be as popular as they were when "Hysteria" was all the rage, but I do know this: This band will be around as long as they keep delivering the kind of music that their vast legion of fans wants to hear.

"Euphoria" may not be "Hysteria," but it's pretty good. Fans of that unique Leppard sound will find it in spades herein. The CD begins with "Demolition Man," a song that turned into a minor hit for the band, and a solid rocker that moves along at a quick clip.

"Promises" is next and it brings to mind the days of "Photograph," probably because it sounds a little like that song. This one would have been a huge hit in the 80s.

"Back In Your Face" almost sounds like a hard rock disco number with its syncopated beat and punchy rhythm. "Goodbye" is the type of ballad that Leppard has excelled at in the past but that are somewhat boring today. "All Night" is a strange little ditty with jive guitars and an artist-formerly-known-as-Prince beat.

"Paper Sun" is one of the better numbers on the disc, combining real rock guitar with that classic Leppard sound. It's not a heavy tune but it's strong and well-written.

The rest of the tunes on the CD are neither particularly good or particularly bad but rather typical Leppard tunes that are worth a listen. They may not ingrain themselves into your musical memory but they're acceptable.

As I said earlier, Def Leppard fans will be all over "Euphoria." The band's trademark sound is fluent throughout and those who made Def Leppard so huge in the 80s will eat it up. Of course, that means that those who never liked the band won't be discovering anything new here either. But, at this point, that doesn't really matter.

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Def Leppard: Rick Allen, drums; Phil Collen, guitar/vocals; Joe Elliott, lead vocals; Vivian Campbell, guitar/vocals; Rick "Sav" Savage, bass guitar/vocals.

"Hysteria" (Mercury; 1987)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

There isn't much I can say about this disc that hasn't already been written about in more languages than most of us can speak, but I'll try to add something. This was Def Leppard's fourth disc and what a monstrous release it was: seven hit singles, videos, sold-out arenas; it was a banner time for the Lepps. All this success didn't just happen without some tragedy though. Rick Allen lost his arm in a car crash and Steve Clark later losing his battle with the bottle. The other side of the coin shouldn't remain so dark.

The music contained within "Hysteria" wasn't what fans of Def Leppard expected. The songs are radio friendly and Joe Elliot, along with each member, recorded their respective part separately. The whole concept was to make each song a hit so lots of electronic elements were used: the Rockman amplifier (created by Boston's Tom Scholz) was used on all the guitar parts and the vocals were layered to have lead and background heard at the same time. Despite the differences,  "Hysteria" has sold more than 20 million copies and it also clocks in at 62:52 which, at the time, was their longest record to date. "Hysteria" was produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange.

There was a dual disc deluxe edition released around the same time with four new tracks on Disc 1 and Disc 2 contained eleven songs that were either live or remixed tracks from the studio release. If you're a fan who's been jonesing for some vintage Def Leppard, check it out.

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott – lead vocals; Steve Clark – guitars; Phil Collen – guitars; Rick Savage – bass; Rick Allen – drums.

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"Pyromania: Deluxe Edition" (Vertigo; 1983/2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

One good thing about the music of the '80s is that some of the great stuff gets re-mastered. Those who will grow up in the digital age won't ever know any different. This is the third release from Def Leppard and the first to feature Phil Collen on guitar -- he is not credited with any of the song writing though. Pete Willis was the lead guitar player but he was fired by the band and Phil Collen came in to add his solos to Pete's rhythm tracks. The guitar of Phil Collen added some great guitar solos and helped to beef up a lot of the songs.

Since most of the guitar parts had already been recorded by Willis it was a chance for Phil Collen (who had just left the band Girl) to come in behind and add his own style and, if you really listen, you can hear the difference on the song "Die Hard the Hunter." Joe Elliot's vocals are in superb form and he belts out each song with British power.

Thanks to MTV and heavy metal still ruling the charts at the time you got to see some great bands via their videos. "Photograph," "Foolin''" and "Rock of Ages" all saw heavy rotation on MTV. (MTV stands for Music Television. I had to let those know who might not otherwise because, today, you couldn't tell).

"Pyromania" was re-released in 2009 with a digitally re-mastered disc that also included the 1983 L.A. Forum concert that was edited the first time around. This time all the missing parts were added in and it even features Brian May on the song "Travellin' Band." Remember, "It's Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away."

Def Leppard: Joe Elliott – lead vocals; Steve Clark – guitars; Phil Collen – guitars; Rick Savage – bass; Rick Allen – drums; Pete Willis – rhythm guitars.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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