REVIEW: Def Leppard – High ‘n’ Dry (1981)

Part one of a Def Leppard two-parter!

Def_Leppard_-_High_'n'_DryDEF LEPPARD – High ‘n’ Dry (1981 Polygram)

Now that Pyromania, Hysteria, Slang and Adrenalize have been remastered and reissued with bonus tracks, it is High ‘N’ Dry that needs to be given the deluxe treatment next.  The fact that Adrenalize has been given an elaborate deluxe edition, but High ‘n’ Dry hasn’t even been remastered yet, is injustice.  Any time I listen to High ‘n’ Dry, I leave with one conclusion:  This is Def Leppard’s best album.  And not only that, it’s just one of the best by any hard rock band, period.

For High ‘n’ Dry, my g-to version is my vinyl US pressing.   The CD is still in my collection, because it includes two songs not on the original LP: 1984 Remixes of “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak” and “Me and My Wine” (the versions that were used for the music videos).  So that’s cool, good enough reason to own the CD, but the LP has one more gimmick that you can’t get on CD.  The final track on side two, “No No No”, ends in an infinite loop of Joe screaming “NO!”  I love vinyl gimmicks.  I also love that the vinyl has inner sleeve photos that you don’t get on CD (even if one appears to be Rick Allen’s genitals covered in whipped cream).

This is one solid LP.  Def Leppard teamed up with Mutt Lange for the first time and his influence is palpable.  Def Leppard had been heavy before, but now they were channeling a serious AC/DC vibe.  Mutt had just produced a little album called Back In Black.  Surely it was no coincidence that High ‘n’ Dry has similar riffy and sonic qualities?  Def Leppard’s edge had yet to be blunted in their search for hits.  Instead, it had been sharpened.  On Through the Night could have been better, more tightly focused.  High ‘n’ Dry is as focused as a laser beam.  Aside from one guitar-driven power ballad (“Bringin’ On the Heartbreak”) every song seeks only to scorch.

Although there is not one single throw-away or filler track on High ‘n’ Dry, everybody has their favourites,   Mine:  The melancholy vibe of “Lady Strange” and “Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)”.  The pedal-to-the-metal hard rock of “High ‘N’ Dry (Saturday Night)”, “Another Hit And Run”, and the instrumental “Switch 625”.  And my personal favourite song, “You Got Me Runnin'”.  I don’t know why that is so, but that’s the one right there that puts fuel in my tank.

Unlike the band that Def Leppard has become today, this album was all about the hot riffs and the Joe Elliott screams! Hard to believe it’s the same band. But, of course, today they have two different guitar players, so the meat of this band is also not the same.  Having said that, the band acquitted themselves nicely on the recent live album Viva! Hysteria.

Every Leppard fan should own High ‘n’ Dry.   Everybody who’s ever liked a Def Leppard song needs to check out High ‘n’ Dry.  Actually, anyone who breathes should check this album out at least once.  It’s on my desert island list for sure.

5/5 stars, but come on, we need a reissue!


  1. I love this album — just listened to it this week in fact while on the treadmill — and Mirror Mirror was my favorite song on it back in the day, although Lady Strange takes the prize for me nowadays. I saw them on this tour in ’81, opening for Blackfoot in Salt Lake City. Had never heard of them at the time, and totally failed to appreciate the opportunity. They were a bunch of little kids in short shorts with UK flags on them screwing around up there until the MEN from Blackfoot took the stage as far as I was concerned… within just a few months though, this cassette had become our “dragging the boulevard” go-to choice in my best bud’s Firebird or my ’56 Chevy pickup. I’ve regretted not paying attention to that opening slot for decades (although Blackfoot was most excellent, so the show still remains an overall great memory).


    1. Wow what a great story! Yeah, those shorts were definitely not really a rock and roll look, were they? Not until Anthrax were shorts respectable in metal!

      This is such a great album though. One of those high water marks.


        1. Awesome, can’t wait to check that out! Atma Anur has played with some of the very best.

          Your Badlands review was right on…sonic purity is a great way to describe that album. It doesn’t rely on effects and tricks!


  2. Still think Pyromania is the most consistent work, but damn, this album sounds great. Focused as a shark with a “laser beam” attached to its head.

    The artwork had been floating around the Hipgnosis vaults for quite some time and if memory serves the diving man was one of the original ideas for the cover of Wish You Were Here.


    1. Oooh, I wished I’d used that line about the shark with the laser beam on its head.

      I didn’t know that about the artwork. Ugh. Wish You Were Here is so much better than this. As much as I love the album, I don’t need a poster or a T-shirt of this.


  3. Cool review Mike and some cool comments as well. It would have been sumthin else to have seen em live back in 81 that’s for sure!
    This is a great rock record from start to finish ….your rating is bang on!


        1. Glad you enjoyed!

          Come back tomorrow for a special review…you like heavy metal? You like progressive rock? And progressive metal? Trust me — come back tomorrow!


    1. Ur kidding me right? Only half? I’ve heard half of Hysteria, and liked it. High and Dry and Pyromania should be at the top of your metal to do list. Then again, I am old. Carry on.


      1. Yeah, it might be an age thing. I think Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit were my version of Def Leppard and Whitesnake.

        I know there’s another Def Leppard video set in a circus (‘Photograph’ maybe) but I never heard more than a few seconds of that one.


  4. Yep, this one is on the list. You’ve mentioned it to me many times before, how I NEED to own it and On Through The Night. And probably Pyromania. Will look in Taranna. Because the only DL I own right now is Sparkle Lounge, and I got that from you! ;)


  5. I wholeheartedly agree with the rating but I don’t know if I think it’s their best. Might have to go with Pyromania for that… they found their identity on that one (for better or worse). I’d be well up for reissues of the 1st two albums.


    1. I can’t recall what I rated Pyromania. When you’ve posted as many reviews as I have, sometimes I can’t even remember what I’ve reviewed and what I haven’t. Regardless, Pyromania is great, a stunning record, absolutely. Why does this one get the edge with me? Who knows. It’s that magic that happens between a human being and music.


        1. There you go, and I’d give Hysteria the same. It’s hard to compare albums when you have three 5/5’s in a row. I run into the same problem with Faith No More, can’t pick just one.


        1. Well, probably. But they’re not bad tracks listened to on their own, I enjoy them when I hear them. In fact I really liked the live version of Love and Affection that was B-Side back then.

          Better still, those tracks could have been removed and replaced with Tear It Down. That would have ended the album on a high.


        2. Love and Affection was actually my favourite song for a while. If they did and 8th and 9th single, I would have chosen Gods of War and Love and Affection.

          Tear it Down was also a favourite of mine.


        3. That’s the thing. It’s a great song. I think it’s more to do with the album sequencing than anything else. By the time I get to Excitable I just feel like I’ve heard enough. And that’s an easy song to switch off… If it went straight into Love and Affection or Tear it Down I’d be more inclined to keep listening. But if they came up in a shuffle I enjoy all those songs.


        4. I agree about Excitable. Never liked it. The only bump in an otherwise pretty great record. I could have seen it excised completely. Maybe they thought it had crossover single potential.


        5. I felt it was the least rock/most pop song on the album. But they had 7 singles, at what point do you decide that’s enough? I think they could have done 8. Gods of War would have been my pick. The fans at my school were hard on for that song.


  6. These days, High and Dry is my go-to Def Leppard album—although Hysteria remains my favorite solely for sentimental reasons. The production on High and Dry is more raw and honest. It punches you in the gut whereas Hysteria smooths out the edges for a softer delivery. Pyromania falls somewhere between those two approaches. On a side note, I put on Slang the other day and was reminded of how much I actually (and surprisingly) enjoy that album. I just went and read your archived review of Slange and agree with you 100%.


    1. Very cool, thanks Christopher! I too love Hysteria, for very much the same reasons. That album was my entire Grade 10. I would rate it just as high as High N’ Dry (but that’s another review).


      1. You know what? I think Slang is great as it is. The kinda album they wanted to make then, wouldn’t have worked with Mutt, he wouldn’t have let that raw and more basic sound go through the mix. Mutt’s great, but I’m glad he wasn’t on that album. He would have bettered Adrenilize for sure, though.


        1. Oh, yes. Mutt was sorely missed on that album. I realize they had to release something, but if they had waited for Mutt that record could have been awesome.


  7. I remember the first time putting Let It Go on my turntable and it just ripping my head off!!
    Just the sound and walls of guitar…what a cooker of a album man I’m digging this one out!
    Kudos to Leppard for playing the first side on Viva Hysteria….


  8. Shamefully I’ve never owned this, I think it’s brilliant too. I think it was because whoever I was hanging with as a teenager always had a copy of it and I just never needed to get my own. Totally agree with your review.


  9. mikeladano :
    There you go, and I’d give Hysteria the same. It’s hard to compare albums when you have three 5/5′s in a row. I run into the same problem with Faith No More, can’t pick just one.

    King For a Day…



  10. This album is so awesome. As much as I love Pyromania, this one should’ve been their first multi-platinum album, this should have been the one to break them huge. I’d give this 9/10, only because No No No doesn’t quite cut it at and the bonus track Me And My Wine is shite (but it wasn’t on the original so I don’t really count that one). The rest is just…eeeh… frickin’ perfect. :-D


    1. I would agree that No No No and Me And My Wine are not as good as most of this album, but I do love ’em. Me And My Wine especially. I have the original B-side version (not he 1984 remix) and I really dig it. It has some balls to it.

      But otherwise I think we’re pretty much in agreement here.


  11. Just bought this on your recomendation.
    ‘Let It Go’ has a vocal pattern that really reminds me of Quiet Riot’s Metal Health (Bang Your Head, I keep expecting him to claim to have a similar mouth to an alligator. You ever find that?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You know, I much prefer Def Leppard’s later output to their early stuff. I know that type of talk is heresy with many metal fans that consider the abandonment of their New Wave roots a sin, but to me it’s where they took flight. Plenty of bands imitated Leppard but few ever sounded quite like them in their prime on Pryomania, Hysteria and even parts of Adrenalize. Contrast that with On Through the Night, which could have been released by ANY working class hard rock outfit of the era (but no disrespect intended), and High ‘n’ Dry, which is too AC/DC-lite for me to enjoy as a huge AC/DC fan. The earlier stuff might have “rocked” more, but it was less distinctive. And if we’re pairing it down to brass tax, less fun. I miss those pop harmonies in their older stuff. Not to say that High ‘n’ Dry doesn’t kick some ass, it’s just more of a solid 3.5-4/5 for me than a 5/5. Favorite tracks? “Let It Go” and “Switch 625.” Those riffs are killer.

    But none of this is to say that the earlier albums should be ignored. It baffles me that the original Def Leppard EP has yet to see the light of day via any modern format. I read somewhere else that it’d make a great bonus for any deluxe edition of OTTN, and I agree. That two of the tracks were re-recorded for that album and “Ride Into the Sun” was slapped onto Retro Active probably made the band feel as if there was no need to have the original cuts out there. I disagree, as both a fan and a completist. Interesting about the High ‘n’ Dry CD version: the one I have is missing the two remixes and was reissued around the time of Adrenalize‘s release in ’92. It sounds pretty good and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a remaster that brought the album up to more modern standards; if anything it sounds better than the original CD issue of Pyromania, which is no slouch itself but fidelity suffers at times due to its age and the fledgling format.

    This is the one I have (look through the pictures and you’ll notice a few differences):

    In other news, when researching the album a few months ago I came upon a listing for a “special edition” with four bonus tracks, only available (as far as I can tell) through a site called The price is in Euros and hails from France. Is it legit? Perhaps — it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that Americans have gotten the shaft when it comes to goodies for music that was bigger here than anywhere else. I even heard talk of deluxe editions for OTTN and HnD in Japan back in 2010 but those were cancelled for unknown reasons. They might have looked something like this. I know you’re in the habit of collecting rare releases, LeBrain, so if it looks legit you can get one and tell us about it.


    1. THanks for the link! I think I know what that is. It’s not official — I think it’s probably from Russia. The Russians used to print up cheap versions of CDs and add bonus tracks from wherever. I have a “Europe best ballads” one here with three Joey Tempest “bonus tracks”. I also have a Russian Bon Jovi Bounce CD with a bunch of bonus tracks, but you can tell that it’s not official because the booklet is soooo cheap.


      1. Yeah, I had an inkling that it might not be official. After all, aside from that specific site, there seems to be no information anywhere else not the net about a special edition of High ‘n’ Dry. That said, the Japanese deluxe editions of HnD and OTTN were officially announced back in 2010 but were cancelled for unknown reasons. Both of them were to be double disc affairs, a la the Pyromania, Hysteria, Adrenalize and Slang reissues. Soon after the band announced they were having compensation issues with their former record label concerning digital distribution, so I think we can safely assume that that’s what halted those releases. Unfortunately there does not seem to be an impasse for the feud coming in the near future, and at this point it wouldn’t surprise me if those deluxe editions never saw the light of day regardless of any deal that is eventually made. After all, the music industry has changed so much in the last few years and the previous deluxe editions were thrown out at the tail end of the CD era; the label might not see the money in releasing new deluxe editions of albums that were never terribly successful to begin with. But, we can only hope that I’m wrong, I suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah yes, when DL started re-recording their hits to avoid record label wranglings. I was very excited when those special editions were announced. I haven’t heard talk about those special editions in years now. Hopefully whatever material they have in the vaults that may be earmarked for deluxe editions will somehow see the light of day.

          The reissues that have come out so far have all been really good. I would like to buy more, all they have to do is release them! I imagine a time in the future when a Euphoria and X reissue comes.


        2. Blech, spare me. The thing I’ve realized with certain albums is that deluxe editions don’t really serve a purpose with me after the initial listen. For instance, having certain tracks on the Hysteria deluxe in one place was nice. But the “extended” versions were pretty much just filler; interesting to hear, not really a patch on the originals. Same goes for Bon Jovi and their New Jersey reissue with a whole disc of demos. I kinda like having the original discs around for a straight listen that’s not bogged down by any extras (I know that sounds insane, but sometimes listening to deluxe editions straight through is like watching your favorite movie with all of the deleted scenes added back in — sometimes you just crave the lean and mean original version). The main benefit of any given deluxe edition for me is improved sound, but that’s just me. The original issues of Leppard’s albums starting with Hysteria going to the present day all sound fantastic, as is, anyway.

          I remember that at the time Joe said that they planned to basically re-create the entirety of Vault in re-recorded versions. Not really sure what halted that; low sales maybe. Or perhaps they felt that their two live albums filled the void. I was watching the Family Guy/Simpsons crossover not too long ago and the version of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” that was used for a gag was one from either Mirror Ball or Viva! Hysteria (can’t remember exactly which).

          As for Euphoria and X, I’ve yet to talk with anyone who feels the same way: I actually like the latter better than the former. Sure, X is Def Leppard by way of the boy bands of the era, but the hooks are there, and if every song is going to be a ballad the least they can do is make them catchy. They largely succeeded. For the most part, I don’t care for Leppard’s ballads, even the classics; if I never hear “Love Bites”, “When Love and Hate Collide” or “Two Steps Behind” again it’ll be too soon. X was a conscious decision to appeal to the band’s top 40 sensibilities to get a hit by downplaying the rock and roll side of their sound. On the other hand, aside from the opening three tracks and “Paper Sun”, Euphoria was a limp call to arms. The band sounded energized but the material just wasn’t there, and it suffers. Not to mention it was the halfway point between the hair metal of their heyday and the pseudo-grunge of Slang, which just didn’t really work for me. It’s definitely my least favorite album of theirs, even if “Demolition Man”, “Promises”, “Back in Your Face” and “Paper Sun” all outclass ANYTHING on its successor. But the rest is a DRAG. Contrast that with the generic but competent material on X. Either way, I don’t need two discs of any sort of material from either. Still, even if most fans would disagree with my opinion on those two, we DID get their covers album Yeah! out of that debacle, which I consider a return to their roots by way of getting back in touch with their inspiration. But it suffers a bit for being a covers album, in my opinion. Hell, I even enjoyed Songs From the Sparkle Lounge as well, which I’d still rank above Euphoria and X. Their 2015 self-titled album is just damn good all around. I’d very much like to read an individual review of that one from you, sir.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Well my friend you are in luck, because I have all the bonus tracks from the 2015 self titled album. Japanese edition and the Classic Rock bonus tracks. So I’m happy to oblige that one. Can’t make any promises on when, but it’ll be on the “to-do” list.

          (Some albums take longer/more work. If it’s something I’ve owned since I was 12 years old it’s a lot easier!)

          I may have to agree with you on X. Looking back, tracks like Long Long Way to Go are really decent.

          And YES Paper Sun. There is a live version on this:

          Euphoria is otherwise pretty lifeless though I do still love Promises.

          The one that I really do not care for to this day is the covers album Yeah! I don’t have all the bonus tracks for that, but I’ve downloaded the ones I was missing. About 19 tracks total? A lot.

          So yeah. Lean and mean. I get it. When I was a kid I could put on an album and it’s a 40 minutes. Now the same album is…depending on the edition…up to 140 minutes! And I have less leisure time now than when I was a kid. So lean and mean. I appreciate that.


        4. Sweet! Looking forward to that review whenever you get around t it. As for “Paper Sun”, I’ve read your review of the “11 Live Worldwide” tracks — too bad we’ll never hear that one again. You can always upload it to YouTube ;)

          Anywho, I’m kinda surprised you don’t like Yeah! As I said, it suffers for being a covers album (as ANY covers album does, in my opinion, simply for not being original material by the artist), but I still liked it better than anything since Slang, which I consider it just shy of. But, I also haven’t ever heard the original versions of some of those songs, so I don’t know just how much effort Leppard put into it as I have little to compare it to. If the covers are carbon copies I can understand why you might find it dull or bad.

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Listening to High ‘n’ Dry from The early years package. This still rocks. Funny how music can take u back to the time u discovered it. Back in my teens listening to this on my friends record player.

    Liked by 1 person

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