Part Twelve of the Def Leppard Review Series
RECORD STORE TALES #973: “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize
Before the internet, the best way to access your rock news in Canada was to buy magazines and watch the Pepsi Power Hour. We had all the US magazines plus M.E.A.T and some of the best rock coverage with MuchMusic. You’d be negligent in your rock and roll duties if you didn’t buy some magazines.
I remember buying one at the end of the 80s, the turn of the decade. It might have been Metal Edge or something of a lower tier. (You bought what was on the shelf when pickings were slim.) But they had a column by a psychic who was making rock and roll predictions for the coming decade. Stuff like “Will Jon and Richie break up?” What interested me the most was what she predicted for Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. The biggest rock band in the world, she claimed, would get only get bigger. Joe’s next album would outsell Hysteria, and he would get involved with some important causes.
Was she confusing Joe for Bono? Cool if true, but outselling Hysteria? Hard to imagine.
A few things were known about the next album at the start of the new decade. They’d be trying to produce it without “Mutt” Lange for one. “Mutt will be involved,” said Joe, but in a different capacity. The goal was to make a “quick” album — one year instead of several. They had one song earmarked from a B-side called “Tear It Down”. They also had some unfinished ideas left over from Hysteria such as the ballad “Tonight”. As kids, we imagined an album less produced than Hysteria, but hopefully just as good. I had actual dreams of anticipation at night, imagining the new album cover sitting there on the shelves. Continuing with the “-ia” naming convention, the next album was said to be titled Dementia. A title they dropped in favour of something less negative, when once again things went down the toilet.
Rick Allen’s car accident was extremely unfortunate, but what happened this time was tragic. Steve Clark, always the band’s riff-master and shape-throwing classic rocker, was gone.
The guitarist had been suffering from his addictions, and this time a deadly mixture of prescription pills and alcohol was enough to end his life. January 8 1991, “Steamin'” Steve Clark was no more.
The band didn’t know what to do but carry on. Record the the album as a four-piece. Dedicate it to Steve. Don’t even think about replacements until it’s necessary.
And so the fans mourned, and waited. As the band toiled away, now producing with Mike Shipley, we anxiously awaited news. Any news. A few song titled leaked out: “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”, “Stand Up”, “Tonight”, “Tear It Down”.
And then, over a year after Clark’s death, listening to the radio one snowy afternoon: Q107 out of Toronto, announced: new Def Leppard. Coming right up.
My sister and I huddled around the radio. We may have popped in a tape to record it; I can’t remember. We didn’t need to since it was about to carpet-bomb the nation with radio and video play. “Let’s Get Rocked” was here!
And it was…
It was OK. It sounded like Def Leppard. It didn’t push the boundaries in any fashion. It was safe, straightforward, and simple.
“Well, that classical section with the violins was different,” I said trying to see the bright side.
“Yeah, but that was just one short part,” answered my more realistic sister.
Through the years of anticipating a new Def Leppard album, we imagined some growth. Maybe not as drastic a transition as they made from Pyromania to Hysteria, but something at least. The one-time biggest band in the world shouldn’t just spin their tires musically.
“You know what, I’m gonna let it go,” I said. “They’ve had to deal with so much, and when Steve died, they just needed to get an album out. They can grow on the next album.” (And boy did they!)
With that attitude, I counted the days until I would trek to the mall and finally get the new Def Leppard in my hands. Now with the title Adrenalize, and with “Let’s Get Rocked” climbing up the charts, it was time for Leppard’s return. A long time coming, if not the way it was planned!
- 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 Disc 5 – Raw – Early BBC Recordings
- The Early Years 79-81 (Summary)
- Pyromania Live – L.A. Forum, 11 September 1983
- Soundtrack From the Video Historia – Record Store Tales
- In The Round In Your Face DVD