Part 2 in my series of Def Leppard Slang reviews! If you missed the first part, click here for “Slang”.
DEF LEPPARD – “Work It Out” (1996 2 part CD single, Mercury Records)
The second single from Def Leppard’s ill-fated but cult-favourite album, Slang, was the modern, powerful “Work It Out”. This immediate winner had drony 90’s qualities and organic, acoustic drums in addition to Rick’s electronics. It sounded like a breath of fresh air for this band, a clever reinvention that kept them fresh, melodic, guitar-oriented and layered, without resorting to stigmatized 80’s sounds such as squealing solos and shout-along choruses.
The cool thing is that the song was originally very different! This was Vivian’s first serious contribution to the band, and he brought it in completely demo’ed with him singing. It’s a much brighter, poppier version, some have compared it to Crowded House! It’s very 90’s pop-rock. That version is included on the CD 2 of this set!
“Move With Me Slowly” is a non-album track, maybe you’d call it a ballad, I dunno. It’s soulful, and there’s some really elegant guitar work going on here. I don’t know what’s Viv and what’s Phil, but all the playing here is soulful, bluesy and perfect. It’s songs like this — a B-side! — that prove what awesome songs this band can write. If this song had come out in, say 1990 instead of 1996, it would have been hallowed Def Leppard, another hit for the record books. According to the liner notes, this would have been the Japanese bonus track on their edition of Slang.
“Two Steps Behind” is the typical acoustic arrangement, live at the BBC Radio One Studios, in 1995 while the band were out promoting Vault. “Truth?” is a very different version from the album. Initially it starts the same, but goes into a completely different, much heavier set of verses. It’s bass heavy, less exotic, and more thunderous than the album version. All told, the album version is superior, but it’s basically a different (but related) song. It has some riffs and melodies in common but otherwise it may as well have a different name. This is a good example of how Def Leppard’s work ethic can turn a good song into a great one. This early version was not quite there.
The second CD came with a really cool set of post cards, of the first four album covers. The next four covers came with the next single, which was “All I Want Is Everything”. Coincidentally, that will be the next review in this series. Stay tuned.