REVIEW: Def Leppard – Euphoria (1999)

Part Twenty-Two of the Def Leppard Review Series

DEF LEPPARD – Euphoria (CD Collection Volume 2 Disc 4) (Originally 1999, 2019 remaster)

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.

2.5/5 stars

Previous:  

  1. The Early Years Disc One – On Through the Night 
  2. The Early Years Disc Two – High N’ Dry
  3. The Early Years Disc Three – When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Live at the New Theater Oxford – 1980
  4. The Early Years Disc Four – Too Many Jitterbugs – EP, singles & unreleased
  5. The Early Years Disc 5 – Raw – Early BBC Recordings 
  6. The Early Years 79-81 (Summary)
  7. Pyromania
  8. Pyromania Live – L.A. Forum, 11 September 1983
  9. Hysteria
  10. Soundtrack From the Video Historia – Record Store Tales
  11. In The Round In Your Face DVD
  12. “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize – Record Store Tales
  13. Adrenalize
  14. Live at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
  15. Retro-Active
  16. Visualize
  17. Vault
  18. Video Archive
  19. “Slang” (UK single)
  20. Slang
  21. I Got A Bad Feeling About This: Euphoria – Record Store Tales

Next:  

23. Rarities – Volume Two

42 comments

  1. Man, I like this one way more than you. In the second half of their career, it is one of the better ones for me. Paper Sun can hold its own and I really like the goofy 21st Century Sha La La La Girl. It all wasn’t perfect, but it has grown on me over the years and for me has held up nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. OK good! This series gets a lot more difficult from here on in! I finished X yesterday. Then there’s TWO best of’s in a row…and then the Yeah atrocity. Very difficult work ahead.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I guess we shall see what I say about those two “best ofs”. They are so redundant that I never put either on my computer. I paid a lot of money for the UK one. Then they made it redundant with the Yeah album.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Yeah he does. I was wondering if my tastes had changed since 1999 but I guess not.

          There are soooooo many many things still to review, but only 4 actual studio albums! The live box sets will be time consuming. They will have to be broken down.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. I’m gonna re-review it all, and maybe even Taylor while I’m at it. I’m not fully decided there. But definitely all the live releases are getting the full treatment. All the EPs and singles that aren’t a part of a set. Everything.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt the same about this. There’s definitely good stuff, I love Promises and Paper Sun especially. But it was definitely their weakest album… up to that point anyway. X wasn’t great either but I prefer it slightly to Euphoria.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, a lot of X was like that. That’s been one of my problems with Lep for a long time. I used the phrase “boy band pish” in my review for the S/T. But they’ve been doing that since Slang. I love the guitar on it but Breathe A Sigh sounds like Boyzone. Or the Spice Girls.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I liked the second half of S/T. The first half was pretty weak. I think it was Energized that annoyed me the most? That was the boy band pish song. I think Lep’s days of perfect albums are long gone. But there is usually enough good songs on each one to make them worth hearing.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. There’s so much pressure to hear and have an opinion about everything these days. Within 24 hours of a new song dropping on YouTube, people wanna discuss.

          Personally I prefer to still take time and absorb the album.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Meat used to go after me when I’d discuss a Star Wars trailer in a negative way but I put him in his place! Talking about trailer impressions is not the same as seeking a movie and I think I made it clear that my impressions DO change when I see the movie… sometimes! But that is different m

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with everything you wrote.

    Compared to what was on offer during this period, I would take this album over a lot of the other stuff.

    But.

    I didn’t like it when it came out. It took about a decade for me to revisit it and since then there are some cool tracks that I keep coming back to like Paper Sun and Promises.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Personally when this came out, I was more impressed with what non-metal bands were up to. Sane year Sloan released their double live which I think might have been the best release of 1999, metal or not!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know what I hate more, this album or the band’s colorful wardrobe at the time! I do love “Guilty,” “Promises,” “Goodbye,” and “Paper Sun” though.

    Like

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