REVIEW: Def Leppard “Work It Out” (2 part CD single)

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.

4/5 stars

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11 comments

  1. One of my favourites from Slang. Work It Out is a all round great rock track like u said from a cult like release for the diehards. I always figured that Campbell was more of the riff guy than Collen. I seen Leepard twice on the Adranilize tour in 92 and the two guitar solo spots were done by each guy and Collen just shredded for 2 minutes while Campbell played a more bluesy type solo that was easier on the ears! I m not knocking Collens playing he’s as well a fantastic writer/player but dude slow down. Another case in point even on the second disc of the live Pyromania you can tell the difference between Clark/Collen ….
    Just saying…
    But yeah Slang record I think for me anyways is the last real start to finish great record,mind u Songs From …was pretty good but having McGraw ??

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    1. Deke once again we are in full agreement. And you’ve also anticipated a topic I want to discuss on the next single. The next single has two instrumentals, one by Phil and one by Vivian, and I want to contrast them a bit. So you totally are reading my mind!

      Clark was a great player…his sound was crucial to the original Def Leppard. If you listen to Adrenalize, there just are not that many actual “riffs”. Lots of guitar melodies but not so many “riffs”.

      And Deke, Tim McGraw is nothing compared to the DVD they did with Taylor Swift.

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  2. For sure they took a hit once Clark passed away,I mean they were never the same. I think that’s were Slang came in they were like ok that ws that band but hey were into the 90’s so here’s our band now! And we were ok with it but the general masses were like..???????
    So of course they reversed back to the sound on Euphoria and I think that was a bad play…but hey when sales are decreasing who knows how your thought process goes esp with labels,managers ,public perception plus the fact that you had two records in the 80s that sold beyond mega…..

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    1. Yeah you said it and I think they’ve been pretty lost since then. Especially on the X album. Sparkle Lounge had its good moments. Euphoria I never liked, except for one song (Promises). And they really seemed to be jumping on trends at that time too, visually…look how stupid their clothes and hair looked in 1999!

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  3. Mike,
    I have nominated you for an “Awesome Blog Content (ABC)” Award because of your passion for music. The link to the award post is here:
    http://caveoffame.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/abc-awards/
    I look forward to reading what you do with this but I understand that there is a bit of work involved -so I will not be offended in any way if you choose not to play along. I will keep the link to your site on my blog because of the great work you are doing. Love the record store adventures!
    Wayne

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    1. Wait until we get to the next one. More cool stuff on the horizon! This has been a fun series for me, and I will definitely do more like this, where I cover every single from a certain period.

      And it’s been a blast rediscovering these tunes. Ripping them to the PC was the perfect excuse to dust them off.

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