Part Twenty-One of the Def Leppard Review Series
RECORD STORE TALES #981: I Got A Bad Feeling About This: Euphoria
Without sounding like a broken record, the 90s were a rough time for rock and roll bands. Those who suffered did what they had to do to survive. When that didn’t work out, they’d revert to formula. In the case of some high-profile groups, the moves were quite obvious attempts to recreate the past. Take, for example, Bon Jovi.
1995’s These Days was a daring attempt to do something different, a little more laid back and organic. The result was, with the benefit of hindsight, one of the band’s best records. But it sold half as many copies as 1993’s Keep the Faith, which sold less than a third of what New Jersey sold, which sold just over half of what Slippery When Wet sold. The law of diminishing returns. So what did they do? The wrote a song called “It’s My Life” which was just “Livin’ On A Prayer 2000” no matter what they admitted to. Back was the talk box, Tommy, and Gina. It was embarrassing. The fans didn’t mind though, and they ate it up like crack-covered ice cream.
Hell, even Motley Crue got back with Bob Rock for a couple new throwback tunes. They stepped back from the cliff of Generation Swine and scored some minor redemption before Tommy Lee fucked off.
In 1999, Def Leppard were faced with a similar situation. Like Motley Crue, they leaned into the 1990s on Slang. The difference was that Def Leppard made a coherent disc that felt natural, unlike the slop that Nikki Sixx fed us. Instead of selling half of what the triple-platinum Adrenalize sold, Slang only mustered up gold in the US. Alarm bells were ringing and something had to be done. And like Bon Jovi at the same time, Leppard too attempted to recreate the past.
A certain Robert John “Mutt” Lange was summoned, and one of the resultant tracks called “Promises” sounds a dead ringer for “Photograph”. And then, this artwork was released.
“After Pyromania and Hysteria comes…Euphoria.”
My buddy T-Rev was working at the Cambridge location of the Record Store. He received the press release for Euphoria featuring that slogan in his morning shipment of CDs. He laughed and gave me a ring to tell me.
Another “-ia” album. For fucksakes…
I can’t recall my exact words, but I do remember my exact feeling: “I got a bad feeling about this.”
It was as if the last decade didn’t happen. Let’s forget the last couple records, no matter how good they may be. And the cover art? The dominant blue recalled the past hits, but the return of the classic logo was a clear message. You’re going to get the Def Leppard you remember. You’re going to get the Def Leppard album that should have followed Hysteria. That’s the message here.
While the majority of fans were in love with the idea, I had reservations. It seemed contrived. Slang deserved better than to be buried like this. In fact this move really does a disservice to the whole Slang era. That album was a brave attempt to try some new hats on. This looked like a timid step back into safe territory, afraid to do anything but.
Is that what happened? Find out next time.
- 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
- Video Archive
- “Slang” (UK single)