Part Twenty-Four of the Def Leppard Review Series
The rarities continue with the CD Collection Volume 2 and the Slang era. The Slang album cycle produced a number of rarities, including a bonus CD included in its first run. When this first run of CDs sold out, so did the bonus disc, a six-song set called Acoustic In Singapore. The whole tracklist is included in Rarities 3, in the right running order. These songs were recorded at the Hard Rock Cafe in Singapore on the autumn 1995 promo tour for Vault.
“Give it up for Def Leppard!” says the man. Opening with a bouncy “Armageddon It”, the band were really getting the hang of this acoustic thing. Comparing one acoustic version to another is a somewhat pointless affair so we’ll just say “it’s great”! With only acoustic instruments, Leppard are able to reproduce the upbeat party atmosphere of the immaculate original. Of course they do the same with the vocals, weaving an impressive live facsimile of the layered album.
“Two Steps Behind” is up again, a song we keep hearing over and over since its original 1992 B-side release. Good on Leppard for turning a throwaway into a perennial. The Hard Rock Cafe audience positively explodes to sing along the chorus. An interesting stripped version of “From the Inside” without the whistle and piano then stirs the cafe into silence. It’s not the kind of song you whoop and holler through. Phil’s solo is a blur of notes, but Vivian’s is more nuanced and chord-based.
A light “Animal” brings the mood back party. Take note of Rick Allen’s subtle creative cymbal use on this classic. Phil’s solo is another blaze of fast flying fingerwork – impressive but also perhaps a little abrasive. The new ballad “When Love and Hate Collide” is then rolled out, similar to the version recorded at the Wapantake club for the Video Archive release. The build up to the chorus pretty nice.
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” closes the acoustic set, a song that adapts well to the format. The party resumes and concludes on a suitably bombastic note. Amusingly, it seems to take the audience a second to realize what song they’re hearing. With that, the Acoustic In Singapore CD is out of the way and we’re off to other rarities.
The “Piano & Strings” version of “When Love and Hate Collide” is the song’s second appearance on this disc. It’s a pretty cool version, with little of the rock instrumentation left. Like the title says, it’s piano and strings (and minimal guitar), with the vocals of Def Leppard. This very rare mix comes from the “Slang” single with the “souvenir pack” – an envelope with a set of postcards.
A pretty awesome acoustic song called “Can’t Keep Away From the Flame” was on the same souvenir pack single. It’s not sad or ballady, just an upbeat and basic acoustic song. Guitars and vocals, no percussion. The only critique would be that the song is just too short!
The “Original Version” of the Slang song “Truth?” is next, as we go into tracks from the “Work It Out” CD singles. The songs for the Slang album went through a lot of experimentation before they took their final form. Some like “Truth?” are vastly different and it’s a matter of preference which you prefer. The original’s structure has elements that carried onto the album, but it’s a consistently heavy slam, and far less exotic. The final version is probably the greater artistic achievement, but the original is the headbanger.
“Move With Me Slowly” also came from the “Work It Out” singles, and the Japanese release of Slang itself. It’s long been a fan favourite, the kind of song that people say “should have been on the album”! It’s a buttery, bluesy and soulful song with not a hint of Leppard going in over their heads. The backing vocals are awesome, and the tune really swings when they start the engine. Had it been on Slang internationally, it might have satisfied the fans who wanted less experimental songs on the album.
Of note (and this is where things get hairy), as good as this CD Collection is for getting rarities together, if there’s one weakness it’s that there’s a lot more Slang material out there, including a “1st Draft” of “Move With Me Slowly”. This version is only available on the digital iTunes release of the 2014 Slang Deluxe Edition. There are undoubtedly reasons for this, but be aware. The “1st Draft” is very similar to the final version, but with Phil Collen (the songwriter) taking some of the lead vocals. Pretty cool — and worth the download — but sadly outside the purview of this review.
A lot of the Slang album can be characterised as songs brought in by individuals, and then radically changed by the band process. The last song on Rarities 3 is one of those: “Work It Out” as originally demoed by Vivian Campbell. Again this is taken from the “Work It Out” single B-sides. Viv had compared the bouncy pop demo to a Crowded House song, and you can hear that kind of quirkiness. That’s the word — quirky. The song is more or less the same — same lyrics, same melody — but radically different. And since it’s Viv’s demo, that’s him on lead vocals as well. A mini-treasure.
Rarities 3, clocking in at a comfortable 45 minutes, is a solid listen with only one drawback of too much love and hate colliding, fer cripes sake. I suppose such things are inevitable; a no-win scenario.
One more disc of rarities to go, before we detour with Joe Elliott on a cybernautic adventure. The next disc is the most special to me, as it’s the one that includes some of my own personal contributions to a box set that has my name in the thank-yous. It includes more of the Slang demos, but be aware of the list below, all exclusive to the Slang deluxe:
- “Turn to Dust” (Phil verse vocal) 4:03
- “Raise Your Love” (version of “Slang” 3:01
- “All I Want Is Everything” (1st draft) 5:19
- “Work It Out” (1st draft) 5:19
- “Breathe a Sigh” (Feb ’96 rough mix) 4:08
- “Deliver Me” (Feb ’96 rough mix) 3:17
- “Black Train” (version of “Gift of Flesh”) 4:06
- “Blood Runs Cold” (Feb ’96 rough mix) 4:12
- “Where Does Love Go When It Dies” (1st draft) 4:36
- “Pearl of Euphoria” (Feb ’96 rough mix) 5:49
- “All on Your Touch” (2012 revisit) 3:58
- “Anger” (“Deliver Me” 1st draft) 3:15
- “Move On Up” (Vivian demo) 3:31
- “Gift of Flesh” (Phil vocal) 4:03
- “All I Want Is Everything” (1st draft) 5:03 – iTunes only
- “Move with Me Slowly” (1st draft) 6:22 – iTunes only
The above tracks aside, Rarities 4 (and eventually the third box set) will get us caught up to complete all the rarities up to Euphoria.
- 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
- Vault: Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits / Limited Edition Live CD
- Video Archive
- “Slang” CD single
- I Got A Bad Feeling About This: Euphoria – Record Store Tales
- Rarities 2
25. Rarities 4
…and the Cybernauts!