Part Five of the Def Leppard Review Series
This final disc of Def Leppard early tracks consists of two separate BBC sessions: 1979, and a few songs from Reading in 1980. Due to this fact, there is some minimal repeat in the song selections, but you won’t mind getting two versions of “Wasted” instead of just one! This disc offers a variety of early Leppard songs and rarities.
BBC Andy Peebles Session – June 7 1979
The EP was out and Leppard were starting to get radio play. They were invited to the BBC and recorded four songs for broadcast.
Opening with “Glad I’m Alive”, Leppard get one of their most underwhelming non-album tracks out of the way early. It sounds better and heavier than the studio cut on Disc 4 produced by Nick Tauber. Solos and backing harmonies are fire. “Sorrow is a Woman” follows, with a quiet, cool laid-back intro of a different flavour. Things kick in on the chorus of course, but this is not the definitive version of the track. The guitar solo section has a nice shimmer to it. Third up is “Wasted”, which opens with a growl. That guitar is vicious, and Joe just goes for it on the vocals. This recording has bite. The final track, “Answer to the Master” is absolutely fine.
Friday Rock Show Session – October 3 1979
“Satellite” enters with a crash of drums, a little hesitant on the pace. The fun “Rock Brigade” is similar to the early version on Disc 3, but heavier. The second version of “Wasted” sounds heavier than the first — the band was growing. Really this song is a highlight of anything it’s on. This BBC sessions ends with “Good Morning Freedom”, probably the fastest and most pumped-up version we’ve heard yet. This might be the best recording of the track available.
Live at the Reading Festival – August 24 1980
The next time the BBC caught up to Def Leppard, they had an album out. With Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and UFO on the same bill, Leppard were anxious. Then Ozzy dropped out, and Leppard had to follow Slade in one of their best festival performances — a daunting task. Fortunately the bandt fought hard and had some killer new material up their sleeves.
Opening with “Satellite” (2nd appearance on this CD) and “When the Walls Came Tumblin’ Down” mashed into a medley, you can hear that the band were fired up. After this workout, it’s the unreleased “Medicine Man” which today we know as “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)”. Imagine getting to hear that track back in 1980, and then when it was finally released in ’83 on Pyromania, going “I know that song!” The early “Medicine Man” version is cool because that riff is unstoppable.
The apocalyptic epic “Overture” is right in the middle of the set, but it was already well known due to its inclusion on the original Leppard EP. Joe’s unholy yelp of “Go!” at 1:50 is the moment that the band just tear it loose. Then it’s another new song in “Lady Strange”, absolutely off the hook and hammering with delicious chord after chord, each one more addictive than the last. Finally after some audience participation noise, it’s “Getcha Rocks Off”. The audience goes nuts and Leppard leave triumphant.
This excellent disc collects some seriously well-recorded and preserved archival material. It’s all valuable, showing the growth of the band as they get more comfortable with themselves and performance. They were always great, with a serious knack for riffs, and this disc delivers plenty of them in unreleased format. Untampered, unhampered, and unchained.
- The Early Years Disc One – On Through the Night
- The Early Years Disc Two – High N’ Dry
- The Early Years Disc Three – When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Live at the New Theater Oxford – 1980
- The Early Years Disc Four – Too Many Jitterbugs – EP, singles & unreleased
- The Early Years box set wrap-up.