Part Seventeen of the Def Leppard Review Series
Truth: Vault was a paint-by-numbers compilation that could have been assembled with an algorithm.
Leppard had been largely ignoring their first two albums live in concert. Predictably the only pre-Pyromania track on Vault, their first greatest hits, was “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”. The disc contains all the key singles from, essentially, three studio albums and the Retro-Active B-sides compilation. According to the liner notes, it was released in order to “clear the decks” before their underrated re-invention to come on Slang.
As such, Vault debuted the last song written during the Steve Clark era that they still wanted to release: “When Love & Hate Collide”. Now including his replacement Vivian Campbell, it indicated Leppard were indeed going in a new direction. As opposed to the smokin’ power-ballady demo, this version is more modern with strings and an organic approach. Not one of Leppard’s most uniqiue ballads in the grand scheme of their discography, it was still a hit nonetheless. The strings were arranged by, of course, Michael Kamen, who previously did the same on “Two Steps Behind”. He has that saccharine touch that powered bands into the top 40, and that’s what you get with “When Love & Hate Collide”. Love it or hate it. It became a hit single in its own right.
The common two-track single was easy enough to find, but fans were best advised to locate the four track release. It contained the demo version of the ballad, featuring the last recorded Steve Clark guitar solo. (This version will be discussed in greater detail when we get to the appropriate disc in the CD Collection Vol 2 box set.)
Another cool inclusion on Vault was a CD release of the long-sought “Pour Some Sugar On Me” video mix. It is probably more well known than the album version due the massive exposure it got over the summer of ’88. A thoughtful inclusion. (This remix is also on the CD single for “When Love and Hate Collide”, which preceded Vault. Also included on “When Love and Hate Collide” is the “Nuclear Mix” of “Armageddon It”. You can find both of these remixes on the Hysteria deluxe and super deluxe editions.)
Otherwise, you get what you get. The biggest hits but not the best hits. Take out “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” and replace it with “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)”! Ditch “Two Steps Behind” and gimme “Too Late For Love”! (Incidentally, different countries got different tracklists so your experience may vary.)
Vault is still valuable for the cool liner notes by Peter Mensch, and comments on every track by the band members. The booklet revealed the title of the next album for the first time: Slang! An odd title that surprised fans by its left-field simplicity.
It’s also valuable if you can get your hands on the double disc Vault including the Limited Edition Live CD. Yep…that’s the title, and it’s from a hometown Sheffield gig recorded by the BBC in 1993. Leppard were running like a finely oiled machine in ’93 and the songs were performed with consistency. The nine tracks (of 22 total played that night) are all hits, which means they’re all also on disc one!
“Let’s Get Rocked” is a reliable opener, and “Armageddon It” follows it ably. It’s Leppard live doing what they do best, and the songs are performed as immaculately as you’d expect. “Armageddon It” has an extended intro so the audience can clap along. Later in the set, it’s the full nine minutes of “Rocket” with long instrumental break. It seems like a tough song to play live, and the vocals prove this is really live. No messin’ around. Good versions, one and all! At the time of release, there were no Def Leppard live albums, period. A handful of B-sides notwithstanding, this was the first. It has since been supplanted by superior live CDs like In The Round – In Your Face in the Hysteria box set.
Vault was a big deal in 1995, but Leppard have since released Best of Def Leppard (2 CD UK), Rock Of Ages (2 CD US) and the recent Story So Far. These double disc compilations have all the stuff on Vault‘s first disc and plenty more — but we’ll get there in due time. Only the Limited Edition Live CD is exclusive today but since you can buy so many Leppard live albums now, it’s only for collectors.
- 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
18. Video Archive