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Def Leppard - Vault: Greatest Hits 1980-1995 by Def Leppard
Hot, Sticky Sweet Rock Courtesy Of Def Leppard
Published by kinzz
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Average 20%

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Def Leppard - Vault: Greatest Hits 1980-1995 by Def Leppard

British rockers are damn sexy, especially when they happen to wear tight jeans use inordinate amounts of Aqua Net and jump around a massive stage. Maybe that was my draw to Def Leppard back in “the day.” Actually in all fairness I was more a Bon Jovi girl than a Def Leppard girl but that never stopped me from enjoying just about every song the UK outfit released in the 1980’s.

I wish I remembered who said it, but in an interview for a VH1 special a fellow rocker was quoted as saying that Def Leppard’s music was as perfectly seamless as any of the era. And I do have to agree with that statement. It never was profound and never “touched” me in the way that many artists do, but on a technical level the songs sounded amazing. And in all honesty if a song can make me want to dance (though I rarely succumb to the desire) then somebody was doing something right. Therefore, my fuzzy memories of adolescence are on target for once. Def Leppard rocked me then—and still manage to do so today.

Most everybody knows about Def Leppard by way of their music and possibly even their tragic history. Nothing ever came easily to the band. Formed in 1977, Def Leppard always produced an appealing, melodic brand of hard rock. At the helm was singer Joe Elliot but guitarists Steve Clark and Pete Willis along with bassist Rick Savage and talented drummer Rick Allen. That lineup remained intact for a while, but Willis was soon replaced with Phil Collen. Subsequently, even with all the successes, more problems surfaced. The band was drowning in alcohol and two troubling events occurred that shaped Def Leppard’s existence. First was the gruesome accidental amputation of Allen’s left arm in a car accident. Then was the alcohol/drug death of Steve Clark.

Few bands rose to the pinnacle of success and were faced with such adversity but instead of crumbling trudged onward and upward. Throughout the years, Def Leppard had a large number of hit singles—many of which were produced by Mutt Lange. Songs Foolin’, Rock of Ages, Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me and Armageddon It are but a few examples of the successes that Def Leppard had in their years of musical service. But I don’t want to give anybody the impression that the band has shriveled and died. They are indeed still making music and most recently gave the world 2002’s X—an album I refused to buy for fear of tainting my innocent child-like blind admiration.

First things first. Two albums stand out as the band’s best. First in 1983’s Pyromania and second is 1987’s Hysteria (the point at which I discovered Def Leppard). But with that said, there are high points from most all of the band’s albums from 1980 through 1992. So unless you are a mega-fan it is probably most appropriate to seek out a greatest hits album. And the only of this kind is 1995’s Vault: Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits. The album spans the years 1980 through 1995 and contains selections from all the major releases from 1980’s On Through The Night through 1993’s rarities and outtakes collection Retro Active.

Of course Vault showcases almost every song I ever loved from Def Leppard and a few I’d prefer to forget. The band’s polished and melodic rock is the perfect addition to any guilty pleasure rock nook. But does that mean Vault is perfect? Nope. I find myself confused by the sequencing. The most popular songs are largely toward the start, so why would casual fans stick around to the end? Also, I am more than slightly disturbed by the overabundance of songs from Adrenalize (1992). While that album was moderately successful, the landscape of rock was changing and the band’s “dinosaur” sound was not well received. And quite honestly, I was not at all impressed with the album. Also troubling is the band’s new song, When Love & Hate Collide. It pales in comparison to the other tracks and would have been best left off the disc.

The faults are glaringly obvious, but Vault itself is still a necessary evil. It is hard to not love fall in love with Def Leppard all over again. I am transported back to childhood by the familiar riffs of album opener Pour Some Sugar On Me. Alas that is the song that started it all for me. Similarly appealing are the smooth rockin’ Photograph and ballad Love Bites.

And while I also can’t help but also appreciate classics like Animal, Rocket, Armageddon It, Foolin’ and all the others I think the real standouts here are the acoustic tracks. This isn’t their first appearance, but it is their most notable. It is here that the band’s talent shines through. Elliot sounds wonderful as supported by a string quartet and mild acoustic guitars on Two Steps Behind. The band is restrained and exhibits a heart that is often produced out of their other songs. The other acoustic selection is Miss You In A Heartbeat. A piano replaces the usual guitars for much of the time. When the rest of the band joins in, the song takes on a dimension unheard of for Def Leppard fans. Truly excellent material.

I’m overall rather impressed by Vault. It is exactly what I’d expected—even considering the few disappointments. It is the perfect album for children of the 1980’s like myself. It is also a good primer for people just discovering the band. I wouldn’t ever say that Def Leppard is one of my favorite bands, but I will admit that they have given me a great deal of joy over the years. So be a doll and shed any pretension and pick up Vault if only for my favorites Pour Some Sugar On Me, Rocket, Two Steps Behind and album closer Bringin’ On The Heartbreak.

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