on April 29, 2008
after listening to five of the new album "songs from the Sparkle Lounge",
i would have to say for the first time in a long long time def leppard got back the heavy guitar riffs and harmony that made male and even female fans remember the glory days of old when High N Dry was hot and Pyromania was king. I dont know how or what woke the band up, but they sound heavy.It is like Steve Clark is there along with original band mate Pete Willis of course not in form but in spirit. The Song "Go" is awesome! "Gotta Let it Go" is another great tune as is "Come Undone"."Bad Actress" has some feel to Hysteria or Pyromania days. I also think Leppard used some AC/DC sound ..that was well know from their 70s days like "Powerage", or "Let there be Rock" or even "Highway to Hell"-just the riffs i am speaking about. "Nine Lives" is also a cool track. "Hallucinate" sounds smooth just the beginning has that AC/DC sound as well as "Tomorrow". You be the judge. Take it from me a old-time Leppard fan, I think the boys got a hit album.
Probably not since 1996's "Slang" have I been so satisfied with a Def Leppard album of original material. "Euphoria" from 1999 contains excellent tunes but is slightly mired down with some total clunkers at the start, while 2002's "X," though bravely seeking to navigate into pure pop-rock waters in the vain of the then-popular boy bands, is a bit limpid when compared to the entire Leppard catalog. Enter "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge," an album that has real hit potential for a band that deserves more accolades to come its way in this day and age.
With its splashy cover and a less curt title than most Def Leppard albums, "Sparkle Lounge" right away makes its presence felt -- and the in-yer-face music does not once disappoint. The first track, "Go," is a pure jolt of both retro and modern Def Lep energy and may have made a stronger lead-off single than "Nine Lives" with Tim McGraw, though that great song's crunchy guitar work, hand claps and various addictive choruses are ten times more real and fun than tunes such as the contrived "Let's Get Rocked" from "Adrenalize." Equally as elated-sounding is Rick Savage's glammy toe-tapper "C'mon, C'mon," apparently the band's next choice for a single, which could easily find a happy home in commercials, movies and arenas till the end of time. Savage also wrote the multi-dimensional "Love," which threw me for a bit of a loop. "Love" begins with a thunderous explosion but quickly subsides to beautiful flamenco-style guitar picking and Elliott's soft vocals, which at first come off as sappy. Luckily, though, "Love" actually turns out to be a creative piece that is somehow a concoction of Queen's extravagant vocals, The Beatles' easy melody and Leppard's militaristic guitar work wrapped into one.
Interestingly, the Leps mostly chose to forgo a collaborative songwriting process in favor of bringing individual projects to the table. Collen's soaring "Tomorrow" features a Bono-esque "hoo-hoo" rally at the start and a message of living for today, but it's his other tune, "Hallucinate," which qualifies as one of my favorites on the CD. The opening riff of "Hallucinate" is chunkier and bolder than "Photograph"'s from the early 1980s, but Elliott's amazing vocals and the chorus within the song are what make it so special. Elliott, meanwhile, flaunts his rugged vocals, rollicking songwriting skills and intrepid attitude on the rough-and-tumble "Bad Actress" and the majestic but rocking "Come Undone," which is another favorite of mine.
Vivian Campbell, too, deserves credit for his songwriting work on "Cruise Control" and "Only the Good Die Young." The former song takes on a suicide bomber's eerie point of view, while the latter is a sweet and deserving tribute to the legendary Steve Clark, whose dark but catchy riffs have managed to live on in Def Leppard's music. Uncannily, "Only the Good Die Young" is a cool mix of Beatles and old-school Leppard, which proves Campbell is an underrated weapon in the band, someone with a great voice and guitar-playing skills, and a guy who seems to bring a fresh approach.
Joe Elliott's voice is less raspy than in years past -- probably all the screaming and cigarettes over the years have taken their toll -- but his iron vocals are still on cue enough to more than get the job done. The underrated Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell are brilliant on this CD, pulling off stunning, fluid guitar solos everywhere, and Rick Allen's drum fills are so liquid-smooth that the guy must be receiving technical help somewhere. Nonetheless, this new approach to percussion on a Leppard album only enhances what is rapidly becoming a Hall of Fame career. Highly recommended.
on April 30, 2008
After X, I began to accept that we would never hear Lep rock quite like they did in the Pyomania Days. Sure, X had a couple rocking tracks like Cry and Scar, but mostly the songs were poppy and some that I don't care for at all that could've been written by Matchbox 20. Even Euphoria, which rocked fairly hard, tried to be too much like Hysteria.
I think Sparkle Lounge (despite the fairly lame album title) is the album that Def Leppard fans like me have been waiting for. It rocks. The last time I've heard so many rocking Lep tracks in one album was in Retro-Active, and half of those were covers. This just may be their hardest rocking outing since Pyro. And the band is in top form. Joe sounds fantastic, as always. It's amazing that after all these years he hasn't lost his range. The guitar work from Phil and Vivian is great. There are some good, memorable riffs on nearly every track, which is something X was missing. The production value is great as well.
I was hooked from Go. It is one of the best Def Lep tracks I've ever heard. I can't quite compare it to any other song of theirs, though I've tried. If I had to choose, I'd say it sounds a bit like something on Retroactive, like Desert Song combined with Ring of Fire. But it's fast, has a nice dark tone to it and it's heavy! I've never heard a song like Go from the band before and I love it.
The Single Nine Lives is good too, even being co-written by Tim Mcgraw. Luckily it's not a country song. It rocks and reminds me a bit of Armageddon It, though of course not as classic. Other tracks here are good too. C'mon C'mon has a nice pop-rock feel to it. Love is the only ballad on the album and it's a very different Lep ballad, with acoustic guitar parts that sound like Battle for Evermore from Zeppelin and some Queen-style choruses. And Bad Actress must be what's drawing the AC/DC comparison, and it's also a different track for them. There are a few songs that I don't care for as much as others (Hallucinate is okay, but sounds like a Euphoria leftover) but there's nothing here that's throw-away and the album is listenable through and through. And one of the best things is that for the most part, everything here is different from what we've heard before, though the album still remains Def Leppard.
For those who've complained that this band hasn't rocked in a long time, this may be the album you've been looking for.
on May 7, 2008
Def Leppard have just delivered their best album since Slang.
Euphoria and X had a handful of throw away tracks. Some Best Of's and a covers album followed. All they needed was a Live album in the mix and their decline would have been complete.
Yeah! was an album they needed. A change of direction, something fun. If it was crap who cared, it's covers. It wasn't crap so that was a bonus. It seems to have breathed new life into the band. Giving them a fresh start perhaps because Songs From The Sparkle Lounge shows a renewed energy lacking for many years.
I'd gotten used to the three year album turn around (since 93) so we've missed a cycle with no new material studio album in 2005 (after 2002's X). Yeah! Shouldn't count. This is a welcome `return to form' - yes that term will be thrown around by many-a-reviewer.
11 new songs here. 8 of them under (or around) the 3:30 mark. Only two over 4 minutes. That's a change. I like the album title. It too is a change. The title X was a cop-out, Euphoria was a tad ancient.
Go - What a great opener. Frantic guitar work, nice anthem-like harmonies
Nine Lives - Tim McGraw (country? gag) might have one of the hottest females in the world as his wife but can the guy rock? Yes, it seems he can. Wasn't sure about this one when I heard about it but it's a great song. Would it have been even better without TM - Yes, but certainly would have garnered the publicity. Smart.
C'mon C'mon - might have a clichéd title and you know you're going to get a lot of c'mon's in the chorus but it's a great catchy song. Sounds a bit like Back In Your Face (from Euphoria) but much better. Leads into
Love - which is a Rick Savage written ballad. Not as good as Goodbye (one of his from Euphoria) but a nice track. Good balance of softness and rock. Sounds a lot like Queen's Jealousy (from their Jazz album - "Oh how wrong can you be?")
Tomorrow - `s chorus stats: "I wanna break down, I'm gonna shake down" which to me sounds a tad clichéd perhaps. That style of singing two identical lines but changing one or two word's been done a hundred times. Good catchy track regardless - given the subject. Rock's nicely.
Cruise Control - is a slower rock number. Continues Vivian's high quality writing output. Though far from classic, it's a good track. This song, however, starts a run of three songs that perhaps have a lesser creative quality than the rest of the album. While good tracks they lack a bit of punch.
Hallucinate - is face paced, standard rock fare. A nice track. Second of the three.
Only The Good Die Young - sounds like a track from the Euphoria era. Perhaps the poppiest track here. Pleasant enough. Perhaps my comment about Vivian's output is a bit stretched here though. Got me thinking of Billy Joel which isn't a good thing. Not that it sounds anything like his song. Third in the run.
Bad Actress - is different from any other Def Lep song. Super fast paced. Very good. Nice to hear something completely different from the boys. Nice work Joe.
Come Undone - is standard fare. Nice mid range rock.
Gotta Let It Go - is a different kind of closing track that what we've become used to. Could easily have been the opening track if they were looking for a track that gave the listener a taste of what was to come without revealing all.
This album is what Euphoria tried to be and what X should have been. Will it be a hit? Probably not. Should it be? OF COURSE!!!
on May 14, 2008
So the "Sparkle Lounge" sounds more like Liberace's living room than anything one might associate with Def Leppard. But in reality, the "Sparkle Lounge" was where the band would get together while on tour to work on new material. This album is the fruits of those musical labors.
Simply put this is a step back in the right direction after the terrible misstep of 2002's "X" which left some fans (including this one) wondering if in addition to being "def", the Lep might also be eunechs.
2006's cover album "Yeah!" showed some promise, but being a covers album it was tough to discern whether the Lep had regained their swagger or if they were just aping the swagger of the bands/musicians they were covering.
Luckily, "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge" confirms that the Lep has indeed regained their swagger and attitude. With only one slow song, Love the album is considerably more uptempo and rollicking than the band has been since 1999's "Euphoria" album. If anything the material is considerably stronger than that on "Euphoria" making this possibly their strongest album since the passing of guitarist Steve Clark.
The music is catchy and upbeat, the harmonies are there, the driving guitars are there, and you can even hear Lep tipping a hat to the likes of ELO and Queen on "Love" which, with its grandiose strings and tight harmonies, is one of the band's best slow songs in quite awhile.
The one weak point-- the lyrics. Granted, Def Leppard's lyrics have never been within the realm of deep or profound and the one album in which they did go deep (1996's "Slang") was not well received because it was largely not what the fans had come to love and expect of the band. The lyrics are traditional Def Leppard, simple and to the point but the low point on the album is "Bad Actress" which musically is a solid song but the lyrics are so cheesy and lamer than any of the recent ill-fated Kentucky Derby horses that it really takes away from a song that had the potential to be so much better.
Returning to good fun hair metal that put them on the map in the eighties was a recipe for success and this album is a true return to form of what this band is truly capable of. Fans of the "High 'n' Dry" through "Hysteria" era should be quite happy with this album.
on May 2, 2008
Def Leppard is back in fine form with their new album, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge. I've been a Leppard fan since the Pyromania days and after far too many mid tempo songs recently, they've finally produced an upbeat ROCK record. I had hoped that their experience with the YEAH! covers album would influence the making of this album and I'm very happy to say that it did. At least I think it did. There's an energy to all of these songs that I haven't heard since Adrenalize and Euphoria.
Go is a very strong, modern rock song that immediately set the hook in me. It doesn't sound like a Def Leppard song, and yet it does, if that makes any sense.
Nine Lives is track #2 and the lead single. At first, I was skeptical of the pairing with Tim McGraw, with visions of Bon Jovi running through my head, but it works - it really works! It's catchy as hell and I like it!
The next two tracks are the ones that really stand out for me, though. C'mon C'mon is probably the catchiest song I've heard from the Leps since the Hysteria days. I can't stop listening to it and I really hope it's the second single. This could be a huge hit!
Love is the next track and, believe it or not, the only ballad on the album! I've read many reviews calling this a power ballad and I think that's a mistake. This a style of song that predates the power ballad. If you didn't know any better, you'd think it was Queen (except there's no way anybody could mistake Joe's voice for Freddie's). It's a song unlike anything Def Leppard have recorded before.
Another thing I noticed - most Leppard songs are written by the majority of the group, with Joe and Phil getting most of the songwriting credit. Here, everybody gets a credit (except Rick) with Phil, Sav and Viv getting multiple credits.
I'll end this review here, since others have done the song-by-song review already. Bottom line: this is the best Def Leppard Album since Hysteria. It's been on repeat on my iPod ever since I got it. Fantastic album, A+!
on May 1, 2008
I'm a longtime Lep fan, since the early '80s and High & Dry. I've never grown tired of their music, and one of their discs is always in the CD player. We all love some work more than others - I never got attached to "Slang", and thought some songs should have gotten more airplay than they did, such as "Promises" which is still a favorite, and "Everyday" off the X album which I liked much more than the rest of the world - but like many other people I figured their days of releasing relevant original-material studio albums were likely passed. I was ok with that, knowing they're still frequent-tourers, and I've now seen them 6 times (3 times in the last 2 years, in fact). So I wasn't expecting this album at all. Wow, what a fantastic and welcome surprise.
"Sparkle Lounge" didn't grab me the first few times I played it through. Maybe it's just me, but it always takes some time to absorb what I'm hearing. The same may happen to you. On the 4th listen, I became absolutely positively hooked. First of all, the production quality is SUPERB. My first listen was on a pair of small computer speakers - what a waste. When I played it on a full system, it absolutely rocked. When I say production quality, I'm not talking about the songs, or the lyrics, I'm talking about the behind-the-scenes engineering of the recording. It's the cleanest, purest, and most sonically crisp recording since Green Day's "American Idiot", which is also a production masterpiece.
And I never thought I'd hear Def Lep with so much diversity. I thought I'd dislike the slight country flavor of Nine Lives, but it actually works very well. I distinctly hear the Beatles and Gary Glitter in "C'mon C'mon", and the Beatles again in "Only the Good Die Young". And whether you like or dislike "Love", and the idea of ballads in general, I love the Queen influence in the song - it's got Bohemian Rhapsody all over it. And in "Gotta Let It Go", the chorus reminds me of Bon Jovi, and their hit "Have a Nice Day", with the huge power chords and pounding percussion. Again, whether you like or dislike Bon Jovi, that's not something I expected from Def Lep.
The entire album is paced well, it's sequenced perfectly, and it's never boring. But you want to know what the real litmus test was? By the end of the 4th listen, I realized I was "dancing" around my place of work, playing air guitar and air drums, as I listened to the CD. Isn't that really what it's about, and what matters? I'm actually rocking out to a brand new Def Leppard album. Yes...it's 2008, and I'm rocking out to a Def Leppard album, and it's not called Hysteria or Pyromania!
I'm sure they worked like dogs to make it as good as it is. As a fan, I'm proud of them, and they should be very proud of themselves. As if their catalog of great music wasn't already large enough, they just added another winner to their history. Congratulations to Def Leppard, I'll see you on tour again very soon.
on April 29, 2008
In the days prior to the release of this album, I noticed that many of the early reviews said the album was just OK. But make no mistake about it, "Songs From the Sparkle Lounge" is much better than that. At first listen, with the jarring opening track "Go," which is a mix of the "Slang" sound and the "Hysteria" sound, it becomes apparent that the guitars are back in full swing. Other tracks keep the energy level at its highest in years while supplying classic Leppard hooks ("Bad Actress"), and a few tracks stand out as smashes in the waiting. "Only the Good Die Young" is the catchiest Def Leppard song since "Promises." There is only one true ballad on the disc, "Love," which doesn't catch on immediately, but this record is not about the ballads. It is about the fact that this band needed a guitar-driven, energetic release to follow up the band's excellent 2006 covers album "Yeah!" They have accomplished that here, and Joe Elliot's vocals are better than ever, showing no signs of age. This body of songs will add to the live shows; they now have some brand new legitimate hard rock songs to stand along side their past classic hits, and while each and every track is not "Photograph" material, there is much to love here, and it proves that Def Leppard is very much a vital rock band in today's market, and there are several tracks here which may give the band its first huge hit in quite some time.
on July 28, 2008
I've been extremely harsh on Def Leppard over the years, bashing pretty much everything they've done since the late 80s. With the exception of "Slang" (1996) which saw the Leps branch out and take some chances, I have hated everything this band has done pretty much, since the death of Steve Clarke. "Adrenalize" (1992) sounded like "Hysteria-lite," "Euphoria," (1999) sounded rehashed, "X," (2002) was just a flat out embarrassment and "Yeah!" (2006) didn't have any teeth either. So pretty much I had given up on this band...
Browsing Newbury Comics I come across Def Leppard's new CD "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge" (2008) and my immediate thought is, "this is going to suck, just like every other Def Leppard album from the early 90s on up." But whatever, it's like 13 dollars, so I went ahead and bought it anyway...after all, I still dig the early stuff...
I go home, put on "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge" and to my surprise, the new Def Leppard doesn't suck, not at all--in fact, I find that it's really, really good. The new album actually *rocks,* yes, rocks. Unlike "X," this time around DL aren't trying to appeal to Bryan Adams fans by releasing adult-contemporary crap, and unlike "Euphoria," or "Adrenalize" DL aren't trying to relive the past either. On the contrary, with "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge" Def Leppard sound revitalized, fresh, and for the first time in AGES...hungry. The band manages to still sound like the Def Leppard I once loved, yet a little more mature, without losing anything. The grooves and hooks in these songs are undeniable. Highlights "Nine Lives," and "C'mon C'mon," easily rank up there with some of the bands early 80s classics and with the exception of the dud obligatory balled "Love" (how original) all of these songs are quite strong.
To all fans of early Def Leppard who thought the band should have called it quits years ago--give the new album a try--I'm shocked to say that it's good, really!
on May 8, 2008
I've been a Leppard fan since 1982 and must say Sparkle Lounge is the best album they've released since Adrenalize by a LONG shot (not counting Greating Hits comps, etc.).
After a string of sub-par recordings I'd lost faith that I'd ever hear a really good (new) record from Def Leppard again. Save for a few songs from Euphoria I actually disliked the majority of the band's output the past 15 years.
FINALLY, Sparkle Lounge has renewed my faith. Is this as hard as Hign N' Dry or will it be as popular worldwide as Pyromania or Hysteria? No, but times have changed and the days of DL (or any other 80's rock band) selling 15 million albums is over. But the songs on S.L. are really, really good. It has a bit of Euphoria / Adrenalize feel to it, but much more 70's-ish in it's approach. At times you can hear obvious similarities to Queen, ELO and dare I say it's even a bit Beatles-esque in places.
And guitars, guitars, guitars... all over the place. Phil Collen's work is superb. The only negative thing I have to say (and I say this about almost all music now-a-days) is that Vivian's guitar sounds like it's been tuned down somewhat and is a bit too dark (modern) for my 80's whammy-bar tastes. Other than that this album is a homerun for a band whose batting average has been below the Mendoza line since 1993.
Is this album going to change the nay-sayer's views about the band? Of course not. If you didn't like Def Leppard in 1983 you're not going to like them now. However, if you did like the band in 1983, but forgot about them after Hysteria you may wish to jump back on the bandwagon... Sparkle Lounge is excellent.