Part Sixteen of the Def Leppard Review Series
Perhaps a tad prematurely, immediately after Adrenalize had given all it had in terms of singles, Def Leppard released the spiritual sequel to 1989’s home video Historia. That thorough collection of videos was composed of music from four albums, while Visualize only covered one (and a bit). As such, this time they added interviews and interesting TV clips to fill out the run time.
Since Historia closed on “Love Bites”, it’s only fitting that Visualize opens with the next video, “Rocket”. As far as cool 80s videos go, “Rocket” was a success. It was even an educational slideshow of all Def Leppard’s musical heroes! It’s also very very 80s, with lots of TV sets hanging about.
Then Visualize takes a different track. The next big event in the lives of Def Leppard was a sad one: the passing of Steve Clark. He is commemorated with TV clips, interviews and an excellent all-Steve video for “Switch 625”. Joe Elliott laments that all Steve had in his life was a guitar and a bottle, but at least he left something worthwhile behind — the music.
Interview tracks are interspersed between music videos. Rick Allen discusses his drum kit and how he uses his left leg to do what he used to with his arm. Then there’s a surprising video of a live Ben E. King TV performance, featuring his new backing band, Def Leppard. “Stand By Me” is not the complete clip but enough to show you that Leppard could do it! Rick Savage plays a strange 80s synth bass guitar, and Steve Clark was still with them. Another partial clip, “Jean Genie” with Joe, Ronnie Wood and the Hothouse Flowers, is cool but just a snippet. Same with an acoustic version of “Ziggy Stardust”. Shame they couldn’t use the full tracks. The origin of the track “From the Inside” is discussed with a short clip as well.
“Let’s Get Rocked” is opened by an amusing interview with Sav about filming in front of a blue screen. Indeed, “Let’s Get Rocked” was a pioneering video, if terribly dated. It’s also their only video as a four-piece band without Steve. The next interviews address this — the hiring of Vivian Campbell. His big debut was the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in early 1992. His music video debut with the band was on the mediocre “Make Love Like A Man”. Its gimmick was a big screen behind the band; pretty standard stuff. The rarely seen “I Wanna Touch U” follows, with Leppard once again live in the round! The fake crowd screams are distracting but the video is cool, if not triumphant.
The big ballad “Have You Ever Wanted Someone So Bad” has a gothic look, but oh so 90s in style. The picture-in-picture (some colour, some black and white) look was overdone. A small batch of interviews from the period are followed by “Tonight”, an excellent understated ballad. The conceptual side of these videos was getting progressively foggy, but when they’re on the screen in start black and white, the band look cool. “Heaven Is” was another rarely seen clip, and perhaps it’s better that way. As always, the band stuff looks great but the conceptual shots are just bizarre. Ditto “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)”. Dunno what’s up with the naked people or Cliff Burnstein playing baseball with a window. A true shame, as this semi-ballad is a Def Leppard masterpiece of a song, simply top drawer. It deserved better. When the video came out, I was so disappointed. “What have they done?” We deserved better.
“Two Steps Behind”, “Love Bites” and “Photograph” are live, from a hometown gig in Sheffield. More of the show would be made available on a 1995 home video release called Video Archive.
Finally, the future: Joe says there’s a long long way to go, not realizing he just wrote a future Def Leppard hit song title! Collectively, they were excited to write together. Rick Savage says it’s “Phase 2”, and Joe Elliott employs another Star Trek analogy about exploring. There was plenty of creative energy in the band and it’s obvious. But don’t hit “eject”! Stay tuned for the post-credit scene! An important message from Joe.
Visualize was one of those sequels that just came too soon. Interview material is valuable and desirable, but Historia played more like a visual album. It was a better entertainment experience. Visualize is choppier. It wouldn’t matter so much if all the songs were complete, but the TV performances are just teases of complete tracks. Unfortunate.
- 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
- “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize – Record Store Tales
- Live at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
17. Vault / Limited Edition Live CD