There was no way Def Leppard could continue in the same vein of “Pyromania”, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize” without a reset. It became a heavy burden to carry on the style of those albums. They had to change or die.
I was surprised when the opening musical notes of “Truth” started off, and the distorted “why don’t you tell me” vocal line. It was more in the vein of Brit Alternative Rock/Pop than Blues Heavy Rock.
Check out the exotic sounding lead break. And the demo version of the song sounds more natural and it’s my go to version as the mix is in the heavy rock category that I like.
I like the exotic middle eastern sounds on “Turn To Dust” before a groovy Rick Savage bass riff kicks in and the Chorus is classic Def Lep, with the layered vocals.
“Slang” always felt like an INXS song to me as it’s got that fun pop vibe.
How good is the repeating lick intro to “All I Want Is Everything”?
Then when the drums and bass come in, it’s got a perfect groove and Joe Elliot’s haunting vocal melody takes it to another level.
This track could have come from a Tom Petty album.
“Work It Out” is Vivian Campbell’s first songwriting contribution and it’s a high point on the album. The song reminds me of the sounds of British bands like Gun who had a brief moment in the spotlight between 1989 and 1995.
The chugging guitar sound was made by running Campbell’s guitar through a drum machine gate.
In the June, 1996, Guitar issue, Campbell said that when he was in Dio, he wrote some of the music, but writing a song for Dio was basically writing a guitar riff and 32 bars of a guitar solo. That was his world, as Dio would then arrange the pieces as he saw fit.
Campbell mentioned that Def Leppard is not about that. It’s about getting the song right for the record. Campbell further said that;
“In the 80’s there was more than just doing what was appropriate for the song. There was the plus, you know, that I had to do a solo for a record but also had to advance my career as a guitarist in the eyes of all guitarists.”
Make sure you stick around for the interlude section. It starts off funky, there’s a repeating palm muted guitar lick with ambient noise and then a bone crunching riff.
That’s right people, no guitar solo, but still plenty of guitar melodic licks and riffs played throughout.
That small fingerpicked intro for “Breathe A Sigh” is excellent. This is Def Leppard going more rhythm and blues with their unmistakable layered harmony vocals in the Chorus.
In a June 1996, Guitar issue, interviewer Rich Maloof mentioned how the hip hop groove is reminiscent of TLC’s “Diggin’ On You”.
How good is the arpeggio picked guitar riff and the vocal melody from the start in “Deliver Me”?
And that Chorus is heavy rock with the melodic layered vocals that I expect from Def Lep.
“Gift Of Flesh” has a slamming wah solo by Phil Collen done in one take.
“Blood Runs Cold” is another classic Def Lep track. The actual version and the “Rough Mix” version are both excellent.
How cool is the New Wave style of guitar on “Pearl Of Euphoria”?
And yes there had to be a song title with a word that ends in “ia”.
The June 1996 Guitar piece from Rich Maloof ends with these words;
As guitarists in a band that found success in a doomed era of rock, Collen and Campbell have adopted the Darwinian notion that survival is dependent on change. The new era is just as doomed, of course, but it speaks well for this pair that they knew to change and had the reserve of talent needed to grow.
As Collen concludes, “We’ve picked up a lot of experience on the way and we found a way to get it out of our system with an album we think is right. To us, that is the biggest thing. We weren’t even slightly worried, and we think anyone who likes us will like it. And hopefully we’ll get some new fans as well.”
Crank “Slang” and enjoy an excellent Def Leppard record.
8 thoughts on “1996 – Part 1.1: Def Leppard – Slang”
Slang is a very good album as I would put it in my Top 4 of Leppard records. Not a dud on here.
Well said Sir Deke.
So is the top 4 Hysteria, Pyromania, Slang and High N Dry or On Through The Night.
I would put Slang in along with OTTN/HND/Pyro..
Slang just edges out Hysteria.
I liked that Facebook that Slang was a stripped back sound. Allen ditched the electronics and the production was stellar as well. Work It Out is a great song.
The acoustic drum kit is a huge difference. Every interview Collen and Campbell did in the Guitar World mags mentioned how Allen moving to an acoustic kit set the tone and feel of the album.
Slang is one of their best! Too me Adrenalize was a poor man’s copy of Hysteria and they definitely needed to venture in a slightly new direction. They didn’t go slightly, they took a 180 degree turn and for me it paid off. They experimented heavily and it worked. They chose not to go grunge, but they did go for a darker tone and I loved it!!
100 percent in agreement with ya. They took a lot of their different influences and made it work.