Part Twenty-Two of the Def Leppard Review Series
This is where we deviate from the norm. After perhaps oversteering into the 90s with Slang, Def Leppard made a harsh course correction with their next album Euphoria. An early retail solicitation emphasized that after the Pyromania and Hysteria, comes the Euphoria. It was clear where they were going. The modern organic touch of Slang was dropped like a hot hand grenade! In its place was an attempt to retread the hits of the past. Mutt Lange was brought back to help polish up some songs.
Perhaps worst of all, and like Scorpions, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi at the same time, Def Leppard’s image made a big change. Hair was cut and styled. Shiny suits and glammy modern clothes were purchased. While the transition to Slang felt natural, the direction of Euphoria seemed terribly contrived. It was no secret that Slang was not a hit, and Euphoria sounded like it was crafted to generate hits to multiple formats.
One of Euphoria‘s flaws is its length. 51 minutes isn’t a big deal, but 13 tracks was too many, as we’ll see.
Opener “Demolition Man” has cool stuttering guitars like bands of the 80s employed. It’s fast, adrenalized, and stacked high with the patented layered backing vocals. But it feels less like the triumphant return of Leppard and more…unnatural. To go with the top speed pace of the song, F1 race car driver Damon Hill plays some outro lead guitar on the track.
“Promises” was undoubtedly the centerpierce of the album. A pretty successful re-write of “Photograph”, it captures the classic Leppard sound and vibe without the contrived feel. The rich vocals of the chorus are hard to beat, and that signature Leppard guitar lick is easy to love. The liner notes also give you lead solo credits for you to follow along – Phil or Viv. This one has both in that order. It’s a way to learn their individual styles, if you haven’t already!
The first serious dud is “Back in Your Face”, a plastic “Pour Some Sugar” homage with purposefully thin drum samples. The ballad “Goodbye” is also filler, even though it was selected as a single. By this time Leppard had accumulated plenty of ballads, and this reeks of a rewrite of “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”.
The worst track on the record could be the Collen/Lange atrocity called “All Night”. Digital funk just isn’t becoming. A band like Extreme might have been able to make something of “All Night” if they did it without all the tech-y sounds, but this is a horrible mis-step.
Fortunately, “Paper Sun” is a mid-album redeemer. A Leppard epic in the tradition of “Gods of Wars” and “White Lightning”, this one is worthy. Sure it’s nothing new, but it has the vibe of a third song in a trilogy. Play all three of those tunes in a row for some back chills.
“It’s Only Love” is another unnecessary ballad, which combines an Adrenalize vibe with Slang, but not memorably. Then we have the embarrassingly titled “21st Century Sha La La La Girl”, a title as bad at Bon Jovi’s “Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen From Mars”. It’s not a terrible song, though suffers from a plastic production problem. It’s punchy, and has a singalong quality, but we’re lowering the bar a bit here. The third ballad “To Be Alive” is the best of the batch. Quiet and unassuming, it crosses Slang with Adrenalize more successfully. Viv’s solo is excellent.
Collen’s “Disintegrate” brings us right back to the glory days of High N’ Dry. Perhaps as close as they could ever get. The blazing instrumental has definitely “Switch/625” vibes. It is followed by another above average track called “Guilty”. It sounds like a cousin to “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)” which isn’t a bad thing. Mid-tempo Def Leppard, plinking guitars, all good. Continuing with some decent quality tunes, “Day After Day” has a slower, dramatic Leppard vibe. The riff sounds vintage.
Closing track “Kings of Oblivion” turns up the tempo one last time for a pretty killer outro. There’s a hint of the old Joe Elliott scream. Maybe a smidge of Van Halen. Rick Allen uses a variety of drum sounds on this album, but he sounds best right here on “Kings of Oblivion”, with a nice loud traditional snare.
A final assessment for Euphoria is difficult to reach. It’s clear they were out to please old fans that were alienated by Slang. We’ve argued that the superior Slang was a more creative attempt to adapt to the 1990s. Euphoria felt like an absolutely commercially motivated attempt to capture “that sound” from the –ia albums, but also with a nudge towards late 90s pop rock. The modern production does no favours. But Leppard were unafraid to push further in that direction next time; not folding but going all-in.
Euphoria failed to crack the top ten in America, but “Promises” did hit #1. It enabled them to go out on a long supporting tour. But like many bands, the next few years would be rocky in musical direction.
- 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)
- I Got A Bad Feeling About This: Euphoria – Record Store Tales
23. Rarities – Volume Two