REVIEW: Def Leppard – Historia (1988 VHS)

DEF LEPPARD – Historia (1988 Polygram VHS)

When I was a kid, I wanted to collect “all” the Def Leppard music videos.  Hysteria was pretty much my favourite album for two years.  Their videos were ubiquitous.  Any time MuchMusic had a new one to debut, you could count on it being a hit.  “Pour Some Sugar On Me” was the anthem of the summer of ’88 and the video was on all the time.  But some Def Leppard videos were played far less frequently.

The 1988 VHS Historia collected all Def Leppard’s music videos up to “Love Bites”, along with some rare television performances that never aired over here.  They were introduced by quaint title cards, and each video was presented in full — no edits.

“Hello America” with Pete Willis was the first one we’d never seen before.  Why was the drum kit out front?  Nobody knew, but this cool song sounded like a lost hit.  The “fake live” trio of “Let It Go”, “High ‘N’ Dry”, and “Bringing on the Heartbreak” ended the Willis era of music videos.  These three were seen on TV here, but only rarely.  “Heartbreak” was the original album mix.

The big three Pyromania videos by David Mallet were up next, “Photograph” in its uncensored version.  Then there’s a TV performance (lip syncing of course) of “Too Late For Love”.  This includes a neat set up with Steve Clark and Phil Collen coming down these hydraulic staircases. When spending the money to buy a VHS tape of music videos you can see on TV, it’s nice to get real rarities like this.

“Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)” is another serious rarity from Japanese TV. With Union Jacks draped behind, Leppard rarely looked this cool. It’s no shirt required for Rick Allen, and a mop-topped Joe Elliot screams behind his hair into the microphone cupped in his hands. Unfortunately, during the guitar solo the director chose to focus everywhere but on Phil for most of it.

After Pyromania blew up all over the world, Leppard reissued Hign ‘N’ Dry with two bonus tracks.  Music videos were made for each:  The remixed versions of “Bringing on the Heartbreak” and “Me and My Wine”.  The DVD release is mucked up and includes the wrong audio instead of the remix of “Heartbreak” but the VHS has everything right.  These two videos are exact opposites.  “Heartbreak” is a high budget extravaganza with the two guitarists playing on massive silos, smoke all around.  Then there’s Joe crucified on a barge for some reason.  The performance stuff is pretty cool at least.  But “Me and My Wine” is a total contrast, just Leppard jamming it up in a cheap flat, wrecking stuff and playing in the showing.

And then finally it’s the Hysteria era, the big big hits with the million dollar videos.  “Women” was cool, with that Def Leppard comic book theme.  “Animal” and “Hysteria” had a lot of mainstream play.  There’s also the original UK version of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, with Leppard playing in a house in the midst of demolition.  The “fake live” US version is also included, with the familiar extended remixed intro that was actually unreleased in audio form at that time.  It is paired with “Armageddon It”, made from the same batch of concert footage.

Finally, in the days before hidden CD tracks were all that common, Leppard hit you with an unlisted bonus video.  It’s “Love Bites”, the brand new video that shortly took over the world for them once more.

Videos weren’t cheap to buy — they were $25 to $30 for something like Historia.  What you wanted was value for your money (stuff you didn’t see on TV) and rewatchability.  Historia was constantly in our VCR, often for a full play-through.  It more than earned its share of my allowance.

5/5 stars

19 comments

  1. I love this one. I had it on VHS, now I have the DVD. Haven’t played it in awhile, but damn did I play the hell out of it back in the day. And the rare stuff was so awesome. Didn’t have YouTube back then to look up this stuff.

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  2. My VHS still has the $29.99 sticker attached. I have also on VHS ‘Def Leppard: Visualize’ ($14.99 on sale) and ‘Def Leppard: Live in the Round, In Your Face’ ($24.99); and on DVD version ‘Def Leppard: Hysteria Classic Albums’ and ‘Def Leppard: Rock of Ages The DVD Collection.’

    I followed Def Leppard as early as the ‘High ’N’ Dry’ era, and have both release copies of the LP, as well as all the other vinyl albums up to Hysteria, and many 7” and 12” singles. I would buy the vinyl, unwrap it to play one time for recording on high quality cassette, and archive it for safe keeping. Later it was just easier to buy the new albums on CD and copy from; even later was my car CD-deck to play in, but I still needed the cassette for my Walkman (thanks to Steve for the iPod that made the music transfer to cassette no longer necessary). All my early albums and singles got later updated with CD copies also. My (long lost) young days of disposable money.



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  3. I remember borrowing this off a girl I fancied, mostly because it would give me some common ground with her. I remember really enjoying it too, especially the earlier vids.

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  4. Dude, I bought this DVD last summer that has ‘Historia’ and ‘Live in the Round, In Your Face,’ and I love it! That “Bringing on the Heartbreak” video with Phil was weird, but Steve looked amazing and he really knew how to work a camera! That beautiful man was taken away way too soon. “Me and My Wine” is my favorite video the boys ever did because it’s so random and I love when Joe pushes Steve and Sav off the stairway rails. Also, is it just me or does the little boy in “Women” look like a young version of Pete Willis?!?!

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