Remember New Coke? The maligned flavor of the classic drink just didn't
sit right on the taste buds after we'd come to expect our customary
formula. Coke wisely returned to its classic taste and garnered respect
for admitting its mistake.
Likewise, when sugar-metal stalwarts Def Leppard revamped their sound
for their most recent album, Slang (1996), to reflect the current
crop of bleak grunge acts, the album didn't sit right with anyone.
Longtime fans lamented its lack of poppy flavor, and new listeners weren't
drawn to the band because it lacked the garage-rock authenticity
associated with the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden.
So it's with a sigh of relief we find Def Leppard's latest album,
Euphoria, returns to the classic multilayered vocals and chiming,
distorted guitar melodies of such instantly recognizable '80s hits as
"Photograph" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me." With some assistance from their
longtime producer, the formulaic hit-maestro Robert John "Mutt" Lange
(AC/DC, Shania Twain, et al.), the workaholic group consciously sought
to imitate its former self. This sleek and pleasing LP proves that while
Def Leppard are a calculated and market-savvy entertainment business
operation, they also excel at pleasing fickle consumers with the audio
equivalent of a summer blockbuster action-thriller or a delightfully
sweet soft drink.
"Demolition Man" (RealAudio excerpt)
kicks things off with Joe Elliott's rapid-fire vocals announcing his
return to form, while a wall of guitars saturates the song's anthemic
pulse. The standout song and not coincidentally, its first single,
"Promises" (RealAudio excerpt)
smacks of the signature muted-note arpeggio guitars and
stadium-shaking drum thuds of "Photograph," the major Lep hit from 1983's
Pyromania. Often layering vocal tracks up to 100 times, Elliott's
larger-than-life harmonies glide atop the mellifluous chunk of guitarists
Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell. The irrepressible drummer, Rick Allen
who rebounded from the loss of an arm in 1985 to show remarkable
adaptability to an electronic kit shows off new flair for more
There are a few songs that deviate from the familiar Def format,
particularly the Prince-like funk of "All Night" (RealAudio excerpt).
But, without a doubt, the stadium-friendly multiplatinum hard-pop band
is back to what it does best and that should have longtime fans