Part Forty-Five of the Def Leppard Review Series
Original review: Slang 2014 Deluxe Edition
‘Twas a surprise when 1996’s Slang received the deluxe edition treatment in 2014. The Viva! Hysteria celebrations were a success, and now another album was getting a little bit of attention, although the word “deluxe” really pushed it. As the Heavy Metal Overlord once stated:
When it turned up I wis pure gutted. I thought the booklet had better be snazzy but it wisnae either. Just a wee hing where Joe tried tae mind stuff fae back in the day. Nae liner notes. Nae lyrics. Nuhin. Just some shite photies. My old copy had two discs, a slimmer case and lyrics. And some photies an aw! Gid wans. One of them oan a bus like they were aw goin doon the toon or somethin. How wis that no deluxe but this is deluxe? If they’d called it a “2CD Edition” that wid huv been awrite but they didnae. This is “deluxe”… cept it isnae. I don’t have a Scooby whit they’re playin at. Eejits.
Deluxe or not, the expanded edition of Slang gave new focus to the cult-status album. Radically different versions of album tracks, unreleased songs, and works in progress offer a look at an album that really has never received its due credit for what it was.
The Slang deluxe featured a number of bonus tracks, and some iTunes exclusive bonus tracks as well. Thankfully, the Def Leppard CD Collections box sets include some of these bonus tracks. Today we’ll mostly focus on the ones not included in previous reviews, from the Slang deluxe.
Here is a list of the iTunes bonus tracks, later included on one of the CD Collection box sets. We’ve discussed these before in more detail.
1. “Truth?” (Demo Version) – Previously on “Work It Out” CD single.
2. “Work It Out” (Demo Version) – B-Side from “Work It Out” with Viv singing and completely different from the other versions on the Deluxe. Viv referred to it as his “Crowded House” version.
3. “When Saturday Comes” From the film When Saturday Comes and “All I Want Is Everything” single.
4. “Jimmy’s Theme” From the film When Saturday Comes and “All I Want Is Everything” single.
5. “Cause We Ended as Lovers” (Solo track by Phil) From the Jeff Beck tribute album Jeffology: A Guitar Chronicle and “All I Want Is Everything” single.
6. “Led Boots” (Solo track by Viv) From the Jeff Beck tribute album Jeffology: A Guitar Chronicle and “All I Want Is Everything” single.
There are also two iTunes exclusive bonus tracks that remain exclusive to iTunes. We’ll get to those.
The Slang deluxe’s first bonus was track 12 on disc one, the buttery “Move With Me Slowly”, the original Japanese bonus track for Slang. This is a beautifully recorded, raw, smooth, and sexy Def Leppard song. An incredible song, as we have discussed on the CD Collection Vol. 2. We’ll say it again: should have been on the album. We’ll add: those guitar solos are so incredible. Full of feel, organic sounding tone. Some of the best guitar playing on a Def Leppard song. Another good one is track 16, the acoustic “Can’t Keep Away From the Flame”, a B-side and Japanese bonus track to the Vault CD. Another song that deserved a proper place on an album. “Worlds Collide” is also on this set, a really heavy metal track, originally released on the B-side to “Goodbye” during the Euphoria era. Heavy, but definitely B-side material. We also have “Burn Out”. Great little rocking groover, more like old Def Leppard than the final Slang album. No loops, no electronic instrumentation, so acoustics. Just chug, chug, chug and rock and roll. Joe’s vocal is full of attitude.
Let’s go through all the remaining Slang bonus tracks and have a listen to a largely misunderstood album, as it might have been.
1. “All I Want Is Everything” (Demo) – iTunes only. A unique version of the song, with the some of the lyrics intact and everything radically different. The chorus has the final melody, but delivered as a more traditional rock shout. The melancholy mood of the final version is taking shape, but there is no question that “All I Want Is Everything” was better in its final version.
2. “Turn to Dust” (Phil verse vocal version) (Track 1, disc two.) This version of the second Slang album track is similar to the final, though with Phil Collen singing the verses, with Joe on the chorus. Phil’s raspier voice adds a different, laid back direction. The backing track is not the final mix though the sitar and some of the effects are in place. Collen fans will love it.
3. “Raise Your Love” (version of “Slang”) (Track 2, disc two.) Choppy rock guitars are the main feature here! Joe’s opening rap is intact, but the song deviates from there. The chorus is a very different refrain of Phil singing, “Baby raise your love!” Cool track for sure, but the final song became something far more unique as we’ve seen. If you wished “Slang” was a more rocking tune, then you better check out “Raise Your Love”.
4. “All I Want Is Everything” (1st draft) (Track 3, disc two.) Somehow, the “1st draft” is more complete and closer to the album version than the “demo”. Were the two versions mislabelled? This sounds more like a demo, with the other being the first draft. In fact this is so close to the final album mix, that you might be able to fool your friends. The guitar solo is missing, as are the big vocal hooks that follow, which is the biggest clue.
5. “Work It Out” (1st draft) (Track 4, disc two.) Like the above, this is very close to the final album version. Very different from Vivian Campbell’s demo, one of the aforementioned iTunes bonus tracks. Joe’s vocal is not the final take, but the backing track sounds almost ready. The stuttering guitars and droning strings are all there. You can hear, in the layers of guitar, the skeleton of Viv’s original idea.
6. “Breathe a Sigh” (Feb ’96 rough mix) (Track 5, disc two.) All the pieces are in the place but the atmosphere isn’t captured yet. The final mix would nail that R&B crossed with Def Leppard vibe.
7. “Deliver Me” (Feb ’96 rough mix) (Track 6, disc two.) Again, very close to the final mark. Just an earlier, less elaborate version of the final album mix.
8. “Black Train” (version of “Gift of Flesh”) (Track 7, disc two.) The main riff is there. The verse melodies are there. The chorus is the major difference, with this one being a shouty affair.
9. “Blood Runs Cold” (Feb ’96 rough mix) (Track 8, disc two.) Of all the rough mixes, “Blood Runs Cold” is the most indistinguishable from the final track. The chorus is the most different, with Phil prominently assisting Joe.
10. “Where Does Love Go When It Dies” (1st draft) (Track 9, disc two.) Has an almost Marillion-like sheen to the opening guitar textures. These fade and the mix goes purely acoustic. This excellent song was already in fantastic shape at this stage. Could have been on the album as-is.
11. “Pearl of Euphoria” (Feb ’96 rough mix) (Track 10, disc two.) The epic album closer from Slang, in an early mix. Similar, but the final version sounds busier, which enhances it. They made some different choices in the middle section of this mix, but the in-your-face guitar is quite delectable.
12. “All on Your Touch” (2012 revisit) (Track 11, disc two.) A Slang-era track never properly finished until 2012. Laid back, dark ballad. Understated, with shades of “Love Bites” in the guitars, but with an explosive hard-edged chorus. Awesome solo work on this song.
13. “Anger” (“Deliver Me” 1st draft) (Track 12, disc two.) Different from the above “final mix” which was very close to the album. This “first draft” has a different chorus: “Anger, I’m feeling so much anger!” It fails to deliver the intended punch, and so it is good they revised it and kept working on it. They obviously knew the chorus was not the needed hook.
14. “Move On Up” (Vivian demo) (Track 13, disc two.) Completely unreleased song, a Campbell demo. Neat punchy riff, with a hint of Jimmy Page. Vivian sings, and his vocal melody is melodic, different and enjoyable. It’s too bad the guys didn’t take this song further.
15. “Gift of Flesh” (Phil vocal) (Track 14, disc two.) Another treat for those who love the raspy voice of Phil Collen on lead vocals. The backing track is not all the way there yet, but Phil’s vocal track provided the blueprint for the final album version.
16. “Move with Me Slowly” (1st draft) – iTunes only. The buttery smooth “Move With Me Slowly” appears again, this time in a “first draft” version exclusive to iTunes. Rougher, slightly rawer mix. The outro goes out longer, lingering like flavours on your tune.
While it was nice to see Slang get a reissue with a wealth a bonus material, it was a shame the packaging didn’t quite rise to the occasion. With two tracks remaining unreleased in physical form, and not all the material from the era available in a single place, it’s not too late to do a super deluxe.
- 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
- Rarities 3
- Rarities 4
- Cybernauts – Live
- Cybernauts – The Further Adventures of the Cybernauts (bonus disc)
- Best Of (UK)
- Rock Of Ages: The Definitive Collection
- Yeah! Bonus CD With Backstage Interviews
- Yeah…Nah! (Record Store Tales)
- Songs From the Sparkle Lounge
- “C’Mon C’Mon” (picture disc)
- Taylor Swift & Def Leppard – CMT Crossroads (DVD)
- Yeah! II
- Yeah! Live
- Mirror Ball: Live & More (Japan bonus track)
- iTunes Re-recordings
- Viva! Hysteria (CD 1 & DVD)
- Viva! Hysteria (CD 2 & bonus features)
- Viva! Hysteria (Japanese bonus track)
46. “Helen Wheels” (from The Art of McCartney)
47. Def Leppard (Deluxe and Japanese versions)