REVIEW: Def Leppard – Songs From the Sparkle Lounge (Japanese import)

For Aaron’s KMA review of this same album, click here!

DEF LEPPARD – Songs From the Sparkle Lounge (2008 Deluxe edition, Japanese version)

Could it be? The band who I once wrote off with the Euphoria album, followed by the dismal X, actually came back with something approximating a rock album! And not a bad rock album at that!

The band say that doing the covers album Yeah! revitalized them. Maybe. Personally I thought the covers album sucked, and that the dozen or so bonus tracks available elsewhere were way better than the actual album they released. Whatever. That was then and this is now, inside the Sparkle Lounge.

Terrible title, although I liked the single-disc cover art quite a lot. We know Def Leppard are more of a glam band than a metal band. The problem is, they were such a great metal band! High ‘n’ Dry is a masterpiece of riff-rock. Anyway, if you can forget High ‘n’ Dry, On Through The Night, or even Pyromania, you can get into Sparkle Lounge for what it is: A strong ballad-free return for one of the most beloved rock acts of the last two decades. Even Joe Elliot decided to show up this time, and sing to the best of his ability.

Very few weak tracks, lots of strong ones. “Go”, “Love”, “Hallucinate”, “Tomorrow”, “Only The Good Die Young”, “Bad Actress”…there is some serious fire happening here on these tracks! But the band saved the best new song for last. “Gotta Let It Go” has a riff and melody that fit right in with Def Leppard’s earlier sound. Only the occassional drum programs betray the thunder.

One song that I would call a weak track is the single “C’Mon C’Mon”.  In my review from the 12″ vinyl single, I called it a “crap song”.  It’s a shameless T-Rex rip-off, and also a Def Leppard rip off.  Next!

Japanese bonus tracks are disappointing in the sense that they are not different songs, just different mixes. “Nine Lives” appears without Tim McGraw (this is my preferred version as nu-country is like kryptonite to me and would probably kill me if I was overexposed). “Love” appears as a powerful piano version, in some ways superior to the original, but turning it into a ballad dilutes the purpose of this album.

I have no comments as to the SHM-CD. It sounded the same to me. I guess these things are supposed to last longer? The DVD includes the music video for “Nine Lives” (yuck), an album commentary and a “behind the scenes” feature.  For me, the all-region NTSC DVD contents and the lacklustre packaging don’t really  justify the existence of a “deluxe edition”.

So, whatever went right, this is the best Def Leppard album since the criminally underrated Slang in 1996. It could be the heaviest album since Pyromania. It’s far from perfect, but the good news is you can play it in the car with the windows down and nobody will laugh at you.

3.25/5 stars

22 comments

  1. Always fancied the normal version of this, but never got around to it. I like the artwork on this too – it just seemed like they were trying again, rather than resting on their laurels.

    Like

  2. Bang on review Mike!
    The only thing is I kinda dig C’mon C’mon I guess sometimes I’m a sucker for cheap glam rip offs !..hahaha
    And of course that country cop out track is brutal like Leppard has no place for CMT!!
    Overall this was and is a good bounce back for them it was like 1537 said that they were at least trying …..
    Gotta give em that….

    Like

    1. Did you ever see that concert they did with Taylor Swift?

      I admit — I own that DVD, but only for Def Leppard, not for Taylor Swift. To see Joe Elliot sing on her songs is uushgilHSdgHGSD?gh?EIghf?LKDHvlkNDBVsf

      I hope I made my point.

      I think Lep can still do better. I think they will.

      Like

  3. I remember hearing about the Swift deal….I had zero interest,I was like how can a band that put out stellar product basically the first 4 albums go and crossover!??
    I mean right out of the Sixx play book entitled Following Trends!
    U my friend are hardcore and buy everything ….me I’m just glad they stuck out the live Vegas thing….that restored my faith…..I only have the audio of it though …..

    Like

    1. Yeah that’s true, I do buy everything…I bought Euphoria, X, and Yeah all even though I didn’t really like them. Same with Crush by Bon Jovi. Another sellout.

      Like

        1. Just Older, It’s My Life and One Wild Night. They all sounds like classic Bon Jovi and I think Say It Isn’t So is ok as well. The rest of the album I can do without.

          Like

    2. Sixx and the Crüe never followed any trends in the beginning. Up to Dr Feelgood they were way ahead of the game and there were many bands copying them. Sure, they were influenced by the trends of the times in the 90’s, but look at everybody else around that time, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard… Crüe weren’t the only band to jump on the alternative bandwagon, everybody did.

      Like

  4. Well I joined u on all of those except for Yeah,actually as well…..I guess I’m chapter 2 of Sixxs Following Trends!
    Hahaha….Crush shit that’s buried somewhere in my basement and it can stay there…

    Like

  5. Just typed in “c’mon c’mon” to Youtube, it appears One Direction has since released a song of the same name – so had to refine the search to find DL’s! I don’t mind the track, but it feels like it won’t do as well after repeated listens.
    I can never complain to vociferously about a group ripping off T-Rex – my beloved Smiths borrowed pretty heavily from Metal Guru when they wrote Panic!

    Like

  6. Really like this album. Thought C’mon C’mon was a good track and works well live too. And Nine Lives I never thought was all that country really… not enough to bother me. It sounded like a Lep tune and in a way, certainly production wise, Lep probably influenced country music too!

    This was released really close to Whitesnake’s Good to be Bad as well. Both did well in the charts here which I thought was an exciting time. And then I saw them tour together too. Lep coming out immeasurably stronger in that department… on that night anyway.

    Like

  7. I totally agree with you here. This album is easily their best since Slang, which I thought was a very underrated album. But this album has all the elements that I love in a Lep album. TYhat said, I have huge problem with the Tim McGraw involvement. That song is just too cheesy.
    I agree that X was really, really bad, but I dug Euphoria a lot. They had some big glam influences on it but there are some really classic Def Lep sounding tunes on it, like the brilliant Promises and Paper Sun. I can’t really find any bad tracks on that album at all.

    Like

    1. Promises and Paper Sun were two great tunes that I still like today. I have a great version of Paper Sun from an online-only live album that Def Lep released in 2000.

      X…ugh.

      Like

      1. You noticed! Yeah, I’ve hit this groove where, if I play my cards right, I can fully hear two albums in one day. Doesn’t take long to type ’em up later if I hand-write as I listen! I thought about maybe stockpiling these extras for days when I can’t be arsed, but decided to just slap it all up there as I go.

        I am VERY much looking forward to your thoughts on Rush! I appreciate all link-backs!

        Like

        1. I can hear an album in a day. But sometimes I just want to LISTEN and FEEL. Not THINK and WRITE…just listen.

          I trust that if I ever get a serious case of writer’s block, you guys won’t abandon this place…

          Like

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s