DEF LEPPARD – “Slang” (1996 Souvenir Pack, Mercury)
I think Slang is a great album, and I think I’m going to talk about it soon , as I’m on a bit of a Def Lep kick these days. Yesterday I ripped this CD single, a 1996 “souvenir pack” with two bonus tracks and four post cards commemorating the band’s “Three Continents in One Day” concerts. Vancouver was the last stop — look how tired Rick Allen must be in the photo.
Slang, in many respects, was as forward-looking from Hysteria as Hysteria was from Pyromania. It was a reset, a brand new way of doing things, more organic and modern. Yet at the same time, even though it sounds nothing like classic Leppard, it still retains the impeccable attention to detail. Production-wise, it’s not the same beast, but it’s still a beast.
“Slang” itself was a brave choice for a single, and it did alienate many old-school fans, at least where I was working. Others dug it and got it. It’s a fun song verging on rap-rock, but really, isn’t that OK? Didn’t Def Lep kinda-sorta probe those waters with some of the singles from Hysteria? Bottom line, it’s catchy, fun, has the Def Leppard vibe without sounding like anything they’d done before. It’s a good song. The fact that they played it live during Viva! Hysteria in Vegas is proof!
The B-sides on the single include a “strings and piano only” version of “When Love & Hate Collide”, perhaps the most overrated Def Leppard song ever. I have so many versions of it, I really am not certain if this version is on anything else. It does have vocals, and even a guitar solo despite the description! This is just a remix with most of the instrumentation stripped off.
The other B-side is a really cool non-album track called “Can’t Keep Away from the Flame”. It’s acoustic but upbeat and cool. Production-wise, this is very basic compared to Slang: acoustic guitars, vocals, shakers. But it’s also really good, with a cool guitar part, totally memorable. Since then, Leppard’s recorded a lot more acoustic music but for 1996 this was definitely a standout.
According to the price tag, I bought this at Dr. Disc in Kitchener Ontario in May 1996, for the princely sum of $13.99. Money well spent, I have enjoyed these songs a lot over the years.