Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Yeah! [rough mix]

The following is my personal review of the premature, yet-to-be confirmed tracklisting version of Def Leppard's covers.

Spring of 2006 will find Def Leppard releasing their first ever official album of covers, something other vintage rock bands such as Metallica have done long ago.

A band of Def Leppard's experience knows better than to expect multiplatinum album sales for the covers disc, titled "YEAH!", but that doesn't stop these guys from cranking up their guitars, and letting loose on what I would call the most carefree Leppard album to date. In this tracklisting, 14 songs out of 22 total tracks recorded were chosen. Rather than cover popular songs, the band ventured into more obscure territories, putting a hard rock twist on those smooth 70's tracks some of you may be familiar with. In any case, the majority of the bands covered could all bear the union jack as proudly as Leppard, for they seem to ALL be artists from the UK.

Def Leppard visits a bit of raw, rock'n'roll for the first time...ever? Funny thing is, they liked it.

So, on to the disc, where the covers will be judged by a five star rating. (I was also given a disc of the ORIGINAL versions by the ORIGINAL artists. Thanks Ace.)

Track 1 - "HELLRAISER" (Originally done by Sweet):


Fans remember in '93, Def Leppard covered a song titled "ACTION", by Sweet. Well, on YEAH, Leppard pulled something out of the Sweet collection, and once again Leppardized it.

Featuring Justin Hawkins from THE DARKNESS [who has a relatively small part], the rawness and rockiness of this disc is exactly what Def Leppard's fans should expect for the next original studio effort. The style of this song takes me back to High'n'Dry, and I actually think it's a better song than "ACTION" ever was!

I'd really love to see this song become a single. It would make one hell of a video, and Justin Hawkins is an excellent addition.

Track 2 - "NO MATTER WHAT" (Originally done by Badfinger):


We're all familiar with this track, being that it is currently a single, and was played by Def Leppard at their LIVE 8 performance. I've never known Def Leppard to cover Badfinger, but I enjoy Leppard's version much better.

Actually, this original mix contains a little something different than the version on ROCK OF AGES, and that's this:

"Knock down the old gray wall...(la! lala!) And be a part of it all....(la! lala!)

I actually wish they would've left that in the song. It really adds to the spirit of the song. Excellent work.

Track 3 - "ROCK ON" (Originally done by David Essex):


Rock On is as close to reggae as I've ever heard Def Leppard get.[No, it isn't a reggae song, but it has some attributes of the genre. In fact, the original version even has brass instruments.] The drum beats, and the muted guitar picking almost had me wondering if they were covering Bob Marley. Of course, I loved it.

This is the first time in my life as a Def Leppard fan that I heard a song LIVE in person before I ever heard the album version. It blew me away at Pittsburgh, and unlike other people, I think the album version is as good.

The structure of this song is different. It's sort of like, verse, bridge, verse, bridge, chorus.

Track 4 - "HANGIN' ON THE TELEPHONE" (Originally done by Blondie):


I never thought I would see Def Leppard do a Blondie song. I guess I was wrong.

In my giving it a five-star rating, you probably think I'm biased, or just fan-crazed right now. But truthfully, it deserves everylast one. It has one of those driven verses that totally grab you, kind of like HELLRAISER - and the chorus is long and smooth. (Just how I like it!)

It's fast paced, reminds me of of something Jimmy Eat's World would cover too. I could see it as a single.

Track 5 - "20TH CENTURY BOY" (Originally done by T-Rex)


A loud distant scream takes you back to early Leppard days. The guitars are deep, rocky, although the song is not a metal song. It's relaxed, so perhaps it's just it's placement on the record (after fast paced rockers) is why I gave it a lower rating. I don't see it as a single on this album, but it's not a track I skip over a lot either.

Track 6 - "DRIVE-IN SATURDAY" (Originally done by David Bowie)


Definitely has the oldies drive-in vibe. I keep expecting someone to say "doo wop!" and snap their fingers.

That pretty much this track: a finger snapping track, where Joe Elliott delivers some great vocals. Not a single though.

Track 7 - "STREET LIFE" (Originally done by Roxy Music)


Parts of it remind me of that Puddle Of Mudd song (She F*ckin Hates Me), but more mild. And even though I like THAT song, this one only gets two stars.

The guitars are cool in this one, but don't expect it to be released as a single. It's not catchy enough.

Track 8 - "HE'S GONNA STEP ON YOU AGAIN" (Originally done by John Kongos)


Interesting intro. (I can hear Phil saying something along with the rhythmic drum beats.)

Sounds sleazy. I should probably give it 4 stars, being that its growing on me. But I wont. Not instantly hooky, but not really a filler on this album. Cool guitar licks throughout the song.

Track 9 - "WATERLOO SUNSET" (Originally done by The Kinks)


I <3 this song. I have since I first heard it when the BEST OF was released. Definitely worth 5 stars. I love the original version, though I think Def Leppard's version is better.

Actually, just hearing this song now takes me to a certain time and place in my life. To be exact, there was still snow on the ground I believe, and I was going through another one of those "self-evaluation" periods.

Excellent song!

Track 10 - "LITTLE BIT O' LOVE" (Originally done by Free)


What a catchy little number! Mid-tempo, with a nifty chorus that you will find yourself singing throughout the day. Joe comes through as a vocalist yet again on this one.

Track 11 - "10538 OVERTURE" (Originally done by ELO)


Who is ELO? Why is that name so familiar? I know I know them by the full band name, I just can't think of it.

Regardless...this is an interesting track. Not a single, but not skip-worthy either. Joe's vocal isn't as loud on this one, but it's catchy as hell after a few spins. A lot of "aaaah"'s going on in the backin vocals. You'll see what I mean.

I love the rawness the band has kept on this album. The guitars, everything.

Track 12 - "THE GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK & ROLL" (Originally done by Mott The Hoople)


"Ladies and gentleman, the golden age...of rock'n'roll."

Ohhhhhhhh myyyyyy! I LOVE THIS TRACK!

Single potential, rockin' guitars, catchy verse...and a return to classic Def Leppard drawn-out (drop off) annunciations on the backing vocals. A lot of that cavemanish "wwwaaa ooh!" going on as well. "It's good for yo' boday! It's good for yo' sooooooul!"

I can't quit playing this song. Seriously, so fuckin' fun that it's probably my favorite from the album, or will be within the day. Fun, to-the-point, rock'n'roll that is definitely going to get a rise out of ALL Def Leppard fans.

Track 13 - "DON'T BELIEVE A WORD" (Originally done by Thin Lizzy)


Loud crunchy guitars anyone? Def Leppard meets Queen and Metallica. Awesome riffs that will have you bobbing your head and pumping your fist.

Somehow, the quiet nature of X seems so far away from Def Leppard right now.

Track 14 - "STAY WITH ME" (Originally done by The Faces)


It seems weird that Phil sings leads on an official Leppard album, but I can't say he dissapoints. I wish I could, but I simply can't. His gritty vocal just draws you in.

Kind of an odd way to END the album though. I imagine tha tracklisting/setup will be different.

I'm still hoping for Lindisfarne's "WINTER SONG" to make the album.


I'm really impressed with this album. Joe Elliott really shines as a vocalist, and it seems Def Leppard has rediscovered the raw rock'n'roll that made them a major rock act in the first place. Sure, there are some filler songs. Sure, the songs are ALL covers. However, Def Leppard is to be commended for doing such a knock-up job with these songs, making them a newly adorned accessory to they, and their fans collections.

My favorite tracks are "GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK & ROLL" and "HELLRAISER".

Rock on.

Looking forward to buying the official version when it comes out in '06.