Part one of a Def Leppard two-parter!
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!