Part Ten of the Def Leppard Review Series
Original review: Historia (1988 VHS)
RECORD STORE TALES #970: Soundtrack From the Video Historia
Love is like a bomb (b-bomb b-bomb bomb)…
December 1988: The Zellers flyer.
Zellers was a popular Canadian retailer with a decent music department. They folded several years ago after a slow decline, but once upon a time, they were a central “anything” store for families all over Canada. Anything but groceries anyway; Zehrs had that covered. We’ve talked about Zellers numerous times here, as they were the best store at our local mall. Whether you were buying toys, a new bike, or school supplies, they had kids covered. Meanwhile the adults spent time in housewares, clothing, kitchen goods, and automotive. In the 80s, the era of “Club Z”, Zellers did not suck. They even had a restaurant in the store.
Zellers’ music department sold both albums and equipment in the same area. Needed a head demagnetizer or a record cleaning kit? Batteries, blank tapes, new decks? All there for us kids to gaze at with wishes in our eyes. The selection of cassettes had us constantly flip-flip-flipping. Meanwhile the clerks would be playing music unique to that department, while the rest of the store got Muzak. I first became exposed to the concept of a single B-Side thanks to somebody there spinning “Ride Into the Sun” by Def Leppard. I bought a lot of my Judas Priest and Kiss tapes there. I saw Poison on the shelves at Zellers for the first time. (I thought Rikki was hot before I learned the terrible truth!)
In fact, because of Zellers and that very single (which had “Hysteria” on the A-side), I began frantically collecting everything Def Leppard that I could find. Zellers bears 100% responsibility for this story we are about to unfold.
My growing Leppard collection had many gaps, but there was one that I wanted to patch up immediately. It gnawed at me. It was “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, the remix with the extended intro used in the music video. It wasn’t on the album; it wasn’t on the single. It wasn’t available on any known audio formats. Radio stations didn’t play it. The only place you could hear it was on your TV. I kind of preferred that mix, with the long intro. It had more vibe. I remember hanging by the radio hoping to tape it, but was always disappointed when they played the album version. The best copy I had access to was the 1988 Def Leppard home video, Historia. It was a comprehensive home video, and had both mixes of “Sugar”. But I couldn’t make a good taped copy to listen to; all I could do was dub to a cassette in mono.
One day I came home from school, and the Zellers flyer was sitting on the kitchen table. I flipped to the music section, and there it was: Soundtrack From the Video Historia. A brand new Def Leppard release; a “greatest hits” if you will! They had it for sale on cassette. I reasoned that it had to have that remix. If it was the soundtrack to the home video, then it had to have that remix! I would have wanted it anyway, being a “new” Def Leppard release. The possibility of the remix changed it from “want” to “must”.
It was kind of odd that none of the rock magazines mentioned this new release. Nobody talked about it on MuchMusic. That seemed very unusual for a band of Leppard’s stature. They were the biggest rock band in the world in 1988. Why wasn’t this new compilation album mentioned anywhere else? That was worrying, but on the flipside, once I had it, I’d own a Leppard album that none of my friends had.
Later that week, I trekked to Zellers with my best friend Bob. I looked in the Def Leppard section, but they didn’t have the soundtrack there. New releases? Nothing. I went up to the counter, and there it was! Sitting out for store play!
“I’ll take one of those please, Def Leppard Soundtrack From the Video Historia,” I said to the clerk.
“It’s not for sale,” he quashed. He took it off the counter and put it behind him. He wouldn’t even let me look at it.
Not for sale? The hell? It was right there in the flyer, $8.99 or $9.99 was the going rate back then. He refused to sell it to me. It was sitting in front of me under my nose; I could have reached out and grabbed it. Whatever had happened, it managed to get into the Zellers flyer, but it was promotional only — not for sale. It was meant only for them to play in store, but not to sell. I was shit out of luck, and I went home brokenhearted and empty handed.
Now here’s where things get freaky.
That same week, all the way in New Brunswick Canada, Tim Durling (future author of the book Unspooled) saw the same ad in the Zellers flyer. He got just as excited as I did, but there was one catch. Living in rural New Brunswick, his closest Zellers store was an hour away. It was Friday night.
“I pestered my father, ‘we gotta go to Fredericton tonight’,” says Tim.
Tim tells the story. This happened live on the LeBrain Train Nov 23, 2021!
His disappointment might even have exceeded mine, as he returned home without his precious treasure.
“The poor girl working behind the counter,” he said. “I was such a little shit. I said ‘I want this tape right here!'”
Isn’t it incredible that two guys who didn’t know each other had the exact same experience at the same time? And that we later put two and two together, and realized we had this bizarre experience in common? It really happened, not a figment of my imagination. The ad was real, and screwed somebody else’s hopes and dreams too! But how did it come to be?
We have two theories. I think it was a simple cock-up, a tape got put in the flyer before they realized it wasn’t for sale. Tim thinks some jerk did it on purpose! We will never know.
When Historia was reissued and updated on DVD accompanied by In The Round In Your Face on a single disc, it was revised to include three bonus videos from later in the band’s career. We will get to that when we arrive at the Euphoria era.
- 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
11. Live: In The Round In Your Face DVD