Part Thirty-Eight of the Def Leppard Review Series
DEF LEPPARD – Yeah! II (CD Collection Volume 3 Disc 5) (2021)
This disc, exclusive to the box set, isn’t really a sequel to Yeah! as the title implies. This CD instead collects all the Yeah! bonus tracks (aside from the live ones – they’ll be coming next week) and a few other covers from single B-sides. 19 tracks total, this is the collector’s dream disc for knocking a few rarities off the list. There are also B-sides here going back to Adrenalize, so well overdue to appear in this series of box sets. If you were wondering, “Hey, how come ‘Little Wing’ hasn’t popped up in this set yet even though it goes all the way back to 1992?”, now you know.
There is a lot of information here to digest, so buckle up!
1. “Only After Dark”, the original B-side mix (as opposed to Retro-Active remix) leads us off. This Mick Ronson cover was the first Adrenalize B-side, from “Let’s Get Rocked” in 1992. The remix added guitar overdubs by Vivian Campbell, but this one is all Phil Collen. Great tune, and perfect for Leppard to cover. Upbeat, cool riff, great playing by Phil and vocal performance by Joe Elliott.
2. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. This and the next track are by The Acoustic Hippies From Hell, which was Def Leppard plus three Hothouse Flowers: Fiachna Ó Braonáin, Liam Ó Maonlaí, and Peter O’Toole. Tin whistle, piano and mandolin are interesting accents for Def Leppard, but this is a brilliant cover, essentially live in the studio. These Acoustic Hippies tracks originated from the 1992 “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single. Notably, this group also recorded the Leppard original “From The Inside”, so the sound is similar. Brilliant if surprising. Especially considering this song is so difficult to cover without wrecking completely.
3. “Little Wing”. Also by the Acoustic Hippies From Hell, and also from the ’92 “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single. Quieter, darker, and slightly trippy. The tin whistle here is really something and is the only solo instrument.
4. “Ziggy Stardust”. This track is from the 1996 UK “Slang” single, and it is another acoustic performance. It would not be a stretch to say it is one of Leppard’s finest covers. I daresay nobody covers David Bowie better than superfan Joe Elliott. An shimmery acoustic stunner.
5. “Under My Wheels”. Very rare track from the 1999 “Goodbye” single. Not the first time Leppard have covered Alice Cooper, but we won’t get to the first time until next time! Very confusing, I know. Good, if stock, cover. Lots of bands have tackled “Under My Wheels” over the years, but the unexpected sax solo is a treat!
6. “Who Do You Love?”. Also from the “Goodbye” single. This Ian Hunter cover is a bit forgettable unfortunately. It replicates the thump of the original but lacks the same sass (and harmonica).
7. “Rebel Rebel”. Back to Bowie and another great version. Another rarity, originating with the 2002 single for “Now”. Electric Bowie this time, and performed near-perfect.
8. “Led Boots” from the 1996 “All I Want Is Everything” single, and not performed by Def Leppard. It was recorded by Vivian Campbell as a solo artist for a Jeff Beck tribute album called Jeffology. This one is way out in left field compared to the others, being a funky zig-zag of a song. That’s Jay Schellen from Hurricane playing those funky drums, and John Alderette from Racer X on bass. Very much in the vein of early, jammy Journey and a side of Vivian you never get to hear.
9. “‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers”. Phil Collen’s solo Beck cover featuring the same rhythm section as Viv’s, with Billy Sherwood on Rhodes. From the same 1996 CD single as well. This song cries; it just weeps. Again, a side of the guitarist that you never get to hear. You’ve never heard Phil play so slow! (Don’t worry, he burns it up later.) Full of feel and one of the guitarist’s most memorable performances.
10. “Search and Destroy”. Finally, onto the bonus tracks from different versions of the Yeah! album. The Iggy & the Stooges cover “Search and Destroy” originated on the Walmart bonus CD. It features Phil Collen on all instruments and lead vocals. If it wasn’t for the expert solo work, you could call it fully-fledged punk. Phil captures a snotty vocal vibe, and you gotta say it sounds authentic.
11. “How Does It Feel?”. SERIOUS RARITY ALERT! The only way to get this track was by iTunes download, and only with the initial release of Yeah!. The song was discontinued thereafter and you were out of luck. Therefore, this is a first time physical release! The piano-based Slade cover features Joe on all instruments (piano and acoustic guitar). It’s a beauty that sounds very different from the typical Slade sound. Melodic as hell and Joe does a bang-up job.
12. “Roxanne”. Another serious rarity, a previously unreleased Phil Collen demo of the Police classic. Unsurprisingly, Phil has a Sting-like voice, so it sounds about right, though Phil sings it in an understated way. It’s funky and Phil’s solo is perfect butter on top.
13. “Dear Friends”, a Queen cover by Rick Savage, is an album highlight. Originally from the Walmart bonus CD, it features Sav on vocals and all instruments. And holy shit, dear friends, did Rick ever go in left field! Although it begins similar to the Queen original with soft layered vocals, it then goes in a Live Killers “We Will Rock You” hard rock direction! Almost a punk rock speed to it.
14. “Winter Song”. A seasonal sounding acoustic Lindisfarne cover from the Best Buy edition of Yeah! (One of two Best Buy bonus tracks, with the second one appearing on Yeah! Live.) Lindisfarne were a folk rock combo, and this version is performed as a duo by Joe and Sav. A great addition to your favourite homebrew Christmas mix CD.
15. “American Girl”. Fabulous Tom Petty cover from the Walmart bonus CD. Performed by Joe and Viv, with Mark Danzeisen on drums. Another disc highlight. Joe and Viv captured everything you like about the song. Its spunky upbeat vibe lasts all night.
16. “Heartbeat”. Joe calls this cover the most “out there” of them all, but I think that honour has to go to “Dear Friends”. “Heartbeat” was by Jobriath, the first openly gay artist signed to a major label record deal. He only made two albums before fading into obscurity. It’s a beautiful piano ballad performed by Joe. You could originally get it on the Walmart bonus CD.
17. “Space Oddity”. The final Bowie cover and fifth & final track from the Walmart bonus CD. Joe on all instruments. Lovely version but it’s hard to top the sheer vibe of the original, no matter how faithful. At best you can say it’s a nice reproduction. At worst, it’s unnecessary. However it was recorded as a gift from Joe to his dad, so can you really blame anyone? Not at all.
18. “When I’m Dead and Gone”. Target was the last chain to get exclusive bonus tracks, and like Best Buy they got two. And like Best Buy, one was live and therefore appears on Yeah! Live. The other Target bonus track was “When I’m Dead and Gone” by McGuiness Flint. It is another folk rock cover, done up nice acoustically by Joe and Phil. An album highlight; so damn melodic, upbeat and catchy! And then it detours into “Ooh La La” for a minute. The perfect ending!
19. “Stay With Me”. Closing Yeah! II just like it closed Yeah! is The Faces’ “Stay With Me”. This is an earlier B-side version from the “Now” CD single (2002). Phil Collen takes on the raspy Rod Stewart lead vocal (and probably had to gargle salt water for several days after). The version from Yeah! sounds more full than this original, but you gotta have ’em all or it ain’t complete, is it?
So there you have Yeah II, a mixed bag of a compilation from all kinds of singles and assorted releases. One more disc of covers to go before we’re done, but Yeah II is the best listen of the three. Though long, it has the variety and fearlessness that sounds great on the speakers compared to the original Yeah!.
- 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! (Recored Store Tales)
- Songs From the Sparkle Lounge
- “C’Mon C’Mon” (picture disc)
- Taylor Swift & Def Leppard – CMT Crossroads (DVD)
39. Yeah! Live
40. Mirror Ball – Live & More (Japanese import)
41. iTunes re-recordings