Album Review: Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience (Vinyl)

Simply ear candy.

If it’s been a while since you sat down and listened to New Miserable Experience from the Gin Blossoms. Then don’t.

At least not until you buy it on vinyl. For several years, my record collection hunt included the band’s multi-platinum album from 1992 as well as the solid 1996 follow-up Congratulations I’m Sorry to no avail. Since the 1990s marked in many ways a temporary end to vinyl records I figured these albums on large black disks were somewhere lost on the horizon.

Therefore, it came with great excitement a few months ago when the Gin Blossoms announced the release of both albums (for the first time) on vinyl record on March 24, 2017. So that’s why they proved so elusive!

New Miserable Experience serves as a quintessential album of the 1990s. Released in 1992, it didn’t find much traction until “Hey Jealousy” hit the airwaves a year later, and by 1994 it was a smash record. It helped usher in the start of the alternative rock era and in many respects represents the sound of a perfect debut album (yes, Dusted was technically the band’s first album which includes a number of songs off Miserable… but hardly comparable in terms of production and engineering). New Miserable Experience also typifies what often happens after a band captures lightening in a bottle. It’s hard to capture that full magic again.

It’s a beautiful record, epitomizing 90s alternative rock at it’s finest while oozing heartache and flowing with drama. One needn’t a degree in psychology to recognize the pain suffered by principal song writer Doug Hopkins. Nor would it come as a surprise to learn he committed suicide just as album sales skyrocketed. He was dismissed from the band before the release of the album because of persistent alcohol problems.

Yet, while Hopkins wrote “Hey Jealousy” and the band’s other huge single “Found Out About You” singer Robin Wilson and guitarist Jesse Valenzuela (both current members) wrote the somber “Until I Fall Away” another huge hit for the band and Wilson penned the fantastic “Allison Road.” New Miserable Experience is reflective and often wistful perhaps of lost loves, lost opportunities and just bad decision making it’s also a bit witty with “Cajun Song” and “Cheatin’” while “Hold Me Down” is a fun uptempo rock song.

Alas, if you were lucky to discover the Gin Blossoms either before or during the band’s ascension it’s a good bet any one of these songs brings back feelings and memories of your personal yesteryear. It was a must-have album in the mid-1990s and is synonymous with the college years for many who put New Miserable Experience on repeat while studying or lamenting over the same things Hopkins so brilliantly defined.

It’s one thing to get lost in thought the next time you hear “Hey Jealousy” or “Found Out About You” during a flashback or 90s lunch on your local alternative rock station it’s another to tune out the world, sit down with the linear notes, and listen. Vinyl records always sound better and New Miserable Experience is no exception. Plus all those lyrics you sang along too might be a bit off.

Phillip Rhodes’ percussion and drum fills come across crisp, Bill Leen gets upfront and moves these song’s forward on bass guitar, Hopkins’ and Valenzuela’s guitars (acoustic strumming, melodic chords, solos,… etc. – see what I did there?) melt in your ears and Wilson’s vocals. Wilson is one of the most underrated singers in rock today. Such a smooth delivery with that buttery original tone. No one sounds like him.

The record itself plays flawlessly and features the cover artwork for the album’s re-release in 1993 and a back-then photo of the band with Hopkins’ replacement and current member Scott Johnson. You probably didn’t know the original front cover artwork for the album depicted a desert scene. A single loose sheet inside the record sleeve features the lyrics on one side and all the photos featured on the CD insert on the flip-side. Credits go to Wilson, Hopkins, Leen, Rhodes, Valenzuela and Johnson. Rhodes continued with the band when they reunited in 2002 after breaking up in 1997 but is no longer active.

It’s a big year for the Gin Blossoms as 2017 represents their 30th anniversary and the 25th anniversary for New Miserable Experience. A sixth album is expected this year with the band hiring producers Don Dixon and Mitch Easter who worked on the R.E.M. albums Murmur and Reckoning.

So how about a fully produced tour in support of the new album, celebrating the band’s anniversary and playing New Miserable Experience in it’s entirety?

Grade: A

New Miserable Experience Track List

  1. Lost Horizons
  2. Hey Jealousy
  3. Mrs. Rita
  4. Until I Fall Away
  5. Hold Me Down
  6. Cajun Song
  7. Hands Are Tied
  8. Found Out About You
  9. Allison Road
  10. 29
  11. Pieces Of The Night
  12. Cheatin’

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

metallica-hardwired

Well, that didn’t take long.

OK, just kidding. It’s been EIGHT! years since Metallica last released an album and the long wait (for some) ends Friday when the heavy metal giants unveil Hardwired…To Self-Destruct the band’s 10th studio album.

Despite the length of time, Metallica hasn’t been silent, instead embarking on a seemingly endless tour for 2008’s Death Magnetic that touched every continent in the world including, of all places, Antarctica, in 2013 (though perhaps it wasn’t officially a part of the Death Magnetic tour). How they ever had time to write and record a new album, not to mention videos for all 12 new songs (and “Lords of Summer” which is on the deluxe album version that contains several more songs and live tracks) is a question only they can answer. In fact, they just did a Central America trip!

Fans of Metallica seem to fall into two camps. Those who embrace and welcome new material and those who stopped listening in the very early 90s after their metal heroes “sold out.” Somehow though Metallica continues to hit the #1 spot on Billboard (so there!) and expect the same with Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. Metallica is without a doubt one of just a handful of bands keeping heavy metal alive, relevant and shrewd.

No, Hardwired…To Self Destruct does not resurrect Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightning as many early core fans wish. It’s 2016 not 1986. But it’s better than the stretch of albums from the mid-90s to early 2000s  when, arguably,  hanger-ons started falling off. It’s a natural progression from Death Magnetic, touches all decades of Metallica and at times comes across very heavy but not necessarily hard.
It’s a lengthy album – only two songs less than six minutes and six registering more than seven minutes long. It’s also the second album with bassist Robert Trujillo.

So let’s get to it. The album starts fast and vulgar with “Hardwired,” the first song released to give fans a sneak preview a month or so ago. It’s the shortest of the lot – 3:19. It’s pretty angry and rips from start to finish.

“Atlas, Rise!” (6:31) is classic Metallica with a long middle jam book-ended with lyrics like “Master of Puppets”. It’s heavy with a solid pace to keep it rocking and after several listens it’s certainly a solid hit.

“Now That We’re Dead” (7:02) – Simply awesome intro. Great drum cadence and heavy metal guitar chord. Until James Hetfield starts singing this could be a Megadeth song. Don’t tell Dave Mustain!

“Moth Into Flame” (6:08) – The second album sneak preview released, the opening guitar heeds a bit of “Ride the Lightning” before opening into a hard driving riff that sticks through the whole song. Catchy chorus and overall fun song – should be a staple on the forthcoming tour.

“Dream No More” (6:38)  – Sounds more like a heavier version of today’s “modern rock” blended with “Sad But True” with some sonic tweaking to Hetfield’s vocals. It won’t win over the old school camp.

“Halo on Fire” (8:28) – The longest of the bunch and could be a leftover from Death Magnetic.

“Confusion” (6:47) – You might think you’re hearing “Am I Evil” but the lengthy drum intro gives way to a driving guitar riff which unfortunately holds back a bit too much at times. It’s got some solid chording but dawdles a bit and even with the military and ravages of war theme  it’s nowhere as good as “One.”

“ManUNkind” (7:24)  – It’s long and heavy metal to its core, but meanders a bit without much elegance and includes a noisy Kirk Hammett guitar solo.

“Here Comes Revenge” (7:25) – Stole the opening riff to “Leper Messiah” – hey it’s their song, they can do as they wish – but it continues in the same style as “ManUNkind.” It’s heavy, not overly melodious and belabors a bit much.

“Am I Savage” (6:34) – Three in a row now of slow, heavy chords. Hopefully the name doesn’t fool you into thinking it’s going to be a brother of their cover “Am I Evil.” Not even close.

“Murder One” (5:52)  – An ode to the recently expired Lemmy. It probably would make him proud too, but not Metallica fans from the 80s.

“Spit Out The Bone” (7:10) – Finally back to hard-charging Metallica. This one blisters at the start, provides a host of directional changes, and doesn’t let up for seven minutes.

“Lords of Summer” (7:15) – (On Deluxe album) Another solid heavy metal song to close out the album. Strong guitar. And for whatever reason it seems like this could have been on Kill ‘Em All.

This album requires several listens to carve the grooves into your head and perhaps in time the few sluggish tracks might prove otherwise.  Thankfully it doesn’t sound as though it suffers from that perceptible treble distortion that afflicted the last album. Overall, Hetfield’s vocals thunder as strong as ever, Hammett’s working in new compositions and Lars Ulrich probably couldn’t hit the drums harder if he tried.

Of course, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct relies on the usual repetitive head-bobbing chords as a foundation (this is why we love metal, right?) but time signature changes and other melodic riffs and arrangements elevate a number of songs while others suffer from the nomadic curse of “Wherever I May Roam.” At any rate, Metallica certainly hasn’t cooled off or lost much, if any, of their hard, heavy metal edge.

Grade: B

Metallica – Hardwired…To Self Destruct – track list

1. Hardwired [Explicit]
2. Atlas, Rise!
3. Now That We’re Dead
4. Moth Into Flame
5. Dream No More
6. Halo On Fire
7. Confusion
8. ManUNkind
9. Here Comes Revenge
10. Am I Savage?
11. Murder One
12. Spit Out the Bone
13. Lords of Summer

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Switchfoot – Where the Light Shines Through

Switchfoot

Switchfoot hits new heights with their 10th studio album Where the Light Shines Through, out today, featuring delightful melodies, fun arrangements and an overall shift towards a new sound and musical direction.

Don’t worry superfans, the album isn’t a drastic departure from past releases it’s just different, and refreshing in a number of ways, most notably by showing the band’s ability to think outside the box and produce a 12 track album (15 tracks on the Deluxe Album) that almost feels like they’re starting anew.

Perhaps, most surprisingly, is the rocking  and upbeat nature of the album considering it was born from, as singer Jon Foreman said, “one of the darkest times I’ve ever been through.” Contrarily, it pops from the opening song to the closer and unlike their last effort, Fading West, which took the live treatment to really show the strength of the songs, Where the Light Shines Through is indeed an immediate ray of sunshine.

The album opens with “Holy Water” featuring an awesome chorus followed by one of the album’s best songs and simply nothing you’ve ever heard from the San Diego five-some in “Float.” Think Beck’s “Dreams” and finally Tim Foreman gets to shine on bass. One listen and you’ll be begging for more.

The title track infuses a bit of country and a touch of gospel into that familiar Switchfoot sound before the band hits you over the head with the emotional pull of “I Won’t Let You Go.” It’s as deep as any song Switchfoot has ever written (If you can let the pain of the past go/Of your soul/None of this is in your control/If you could only let your guard down/If you could learn to trust me somehow/I swear, that I won’t let you go) and shows a never before heard dynamic and range to Jon Foreman’s vocals. This is the song missing from Coldplay’s last two albums.

Don’t let the start of “If The House Burns Down Tonight” fool you, it’s pace turns quickly and is reminiscent of some of Billy Joel’s work from the 80s. “The Day That I Found God” is perhaps the band’s most vocal pronouncement, song wise, of their Christian faith. It’s a modern day psalm full of lamentation, some questions and finally reality.

“Shake This Feeling” continues with solid harmonies and could very well serve as one of several applicable singles on this album. “Bull in a China Shop” is another anomaly in the Switchfoot catalog, with a really clever guitar hook but the excessive repeat of the chorus bogs it down quite a bit and feels like the band found that fun hook but didn’t know exactly where to go from there.

“Live It Well” is the most Switchfoot of all the songs and could easily slide right in on any one of their previous albums.

It’s rarely if ever a good idea to combine a rapper and a rock band but “Looking for America” which features Lecrae (wow, he’s really making the rounds with Christian rock bands) isn’t all that bad (though it does comes across trying to hard to be Eminem) and considering the recent events in Dallas it’s got some seriously germane lyrics – America who are you?/Underneath the red blue and white?/America who are you?/I wonder who you are tonight/America who are you?/Is God still on your side?/I want to see a nation rise above the fear and fight that haunts these streets tonight

“Healer of Souls” brings the fun back with a catchy pop rhythm the Black Keys would appreciate and the regular album ends with “Hope Is The Anthem” the only other song that embraces the traditional Switchfoot sound.

The Deluxe Edition of the Where The Light Shines Through includes three additional songs which, quite often, when bands offer the “Deluxe” version the extra songs come off more as second hand, or those left off a previous album or just didn’t make the cut for the current album but worth sharing anyway. It’s never really made sense to me, if they’re good enough for a “Deluxe” album then they’re good enough for the regular album.

However, these songs indeed continue Switchfoot’s foray into new territory with the very different, very cool,  and somber sounding “Light And Heavy.” “Begin Forever “ and “When Was the Last Time” wrap it up and definitely feel more like songs from When the Light Shines Through but don’t necessarily give the same punch as the rest though “Begin Forever” definitely delivers grow-on-you attributes.

Some of music’s best songs, and albums for that matter, often result from the songwriter’s personal struggles with “fill-in-the-blank.” Where the Light Shines Through  is no different. Foreman said he turned his scars into songs and the album is the band’s most personal to date.

It’s also one of their best.

Grade: A-

Switchfoot – Where the Light Shines Through track list

  1. Holy Water
  2. Float
  3. Where The Light Shines Through
  4. I Won’t Let You Go
  5. If The House Burns Down Tonight
  6. The Day That I Found God
  7. Shake This Feeling
  8. Bull In A China Shop
  9. Live It Well
  10. Looking For America
  11. Healer Of Souls
  12. Hope Is The Anthem
  13. Light And Heavy*
  14. Begin Forever*
  15. When Was The Last Time*

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Coldplay – A Head Full Of Dreams

Coldplay released their seventh album A Head Full of Dreams earlier this month and if it indeed is the band’s last (probably more of extended break) it’s for good reason because the record is far from An Album Full of Songs.

Though A Head Full Of Dreams dumps the dreary and melancholy feel, for the most part, that encompassed singer Chris Martin’s postpartum break-up album from last year, Ghost Stories, it definitely keeps the somewhat meandering approach to song writing, seriously lacking the fun hooks and strong harmonies and catchy melodies that made Coldplay musical giants. Perhaps this musical venture has run it course.

To this day, that gem of a song “Paradise” off 2011’s Mylo Xyloto can induce goosebumps with the introductory lead-in culminating in those grandiose arena rock keyboards. Even the hardest soul would have a hard time keeping their emotions in check on “Fix You” off 2004’s X & Y. But there’s nothing, nothing like this on A Head Full of Dreams.

Sure, there’s definitely what could be considered good songs amongst the nine tracks (“Kaleidoscope” and “Colour Spectrum” are not songs and thus won’t be treated as such or this album gets knocked even more points) but even the dismal Ghost Stories offered a couple of standouts. Most of the songs here feel twice as long as they actually are and much of that can be attributed to the slow play and uninspiring arrangements.

The closest you get to memorable starts with the title track that opens the album (giving false hope of what’s to come) which features a solid Guy Berryman bass line and a decent melody but it doesn’t really go anywhere nor does the band bring the song home. “Birds” also starts out promising, again with a clever bass driving the song, but overall feels flat and then abruptly ends. “Hymn For The Weekend” annoyingly repeats the “Oh I, oh I, oh I, I’m feeling drunk and high” chorus far too long and a female vocalist enters late for some reason. Not sure if that’s Gwyneth Paltrow, the reason for Ghost Stories, who is apparently one of many guests on A Head Full of Dreams but at this point, not that interested in finding out.

“Everglow” has a pretty piano line and right away feels like it could deliver that emotional tug so many Coldplay songs provide and this album so desperately needs but Martin sounds like a 5 year old using baby talk and there’s no real passionate depth.

“Adventure Of A Lifetime” introduced the album a few weeks before the official release and brings another catchy bass hook though it sounds much like Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and what’s up with the backing singers? It’s not so much lifeless, there’s really nothing special about it. And seriously whose idea was it to rip off that abysmal Gwen Stefani/Akon song to close it out?

“Fun” features somebody named Tove Lo which is more or less a duet that’s pleasant enough but hardly enduring.  “Army Of One” is probably the closest you’ll get to indelible on this album but then halfway through it inexplicably turns into a quasi hip hop song. The change is so drastic you have to wonder if there’s a mistake in the linear notes. It makes no sense. It’s awful.

The dreamy “Amazing Day” features exceptional vocal work by Martin and feels quite a bit nostalgic but a bit bland too. Finally, “Up&Up” closes the album, and no it’s not about Target’s store brand of products. They’ve completely gotten away from any rock roots at this point. OK, a nice guitar solo (oh, there’s Jonny Buckland) arrives near the end, I guess.

A Head Full of Dreams might indeed suffer from the hope that it brings Coldplay back to form after the emotional release Martin needed and received after their last effort. The band never toured Ghost Stories and reportedly returned to the studio shorty after its release to record this one. Head Full of Dreams arrives with potential but the end product lacks the depth of all of their past albums (even on Ghost Stories the anguish was palpable) and nothing really shines through. It’s more like elevator music with lyrics – listen long enough eventually your head will be full of dreams.

Grade: C-

Coldplay – Head Full of Dreams Track list:

  1. A Head Full Of Dreams
  2. Birds
  3. Hymn For The Weekend
  4. Everglow
  5. Adventure Of A Lifetime
  6. Fun
  7. Kaleidoscope
  8. Army Of One
  9. Amazing Day
  10. Colour Spectrum
  11. Up&Up

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Rush – R40 Live CD

Rush is never going to get a #1 album as long as they continue to release a much anticipated new album the same day someone else, who has a wider fan base, releases theirs.

R40 Live has ZERO chance of going #1 against Adele’s new album and it is pretty rare for a live album to top the charts but this album proves what everyone who attended the sold out shows during the summer discovered – Rush has way too much left to call it a career.

Released on its own or as a combo with the video version on DVD or Blu-Ray Rush R40 Live captures the full essence of the band’s sold-out live performance this summer and fully rectifies the abysmal Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland that featured a less than stellar vocal performance by singer Geddy Lee. Though it should be noted the DVD of that tour proved otherwise.

Filmed and recorded during the two night stand in Toronto, Canada, R40 Live in fact should put an end to any debate about Lee’s vocal range and his ability to sing Rush songs into his 60s. It’s a near masterful performance considering his age, years of singing and the altitudes he reaches on those early tracts that come after two hours of singing. Lee reportedly practiced for months getting to a vocal range that compliments what he left behind after the 1970s.

Of course he doesn’t reach the falsetto of those early records, he probably couldn’t 20 years ago, and even if you’re not a fan of those years because of his vocals, the polished performance he produced cannot be denied.

R40 Live showcases the widest catalog of Rush material ever recorded and does a solid job of providing a souvenir for those who caught a show and giving those who didn’t a glimpse into what they missed. The performances are nearly flawless on every level. The recording sounds unprocessed and is an accurate reflection of what came out of the amps those two nights.

The live album starts off with “The Anarchist” and while it doesn’t show-off Lee’s coming vocal performance (a bit garbled at times) it does feature his hard-thumping bass guitar which often takes the limelight throughout the entirety of the album. The band stuck in the emotional “How It Is” on Disc One as the primary offering from Vaper Trails even though “One Little Victory” routinely got the nod during the tour. That song got placed on Disc Three.

R40 Live follows the concert setlist starting with newer songs off 2012’s Clockwork Angels and tracking back in time to 1974 finishing with “What You’re Doing” and “Working Man” off the band’s self-titled debut album. Rush also played on the tour this album commemorates, for the first time live, “Losing It” off Signals and brought Ben Mink the original electric violinist from the album. His performance is featured on the opening disc and the performance by Jonathan Dinklage who played with the Clockwork Angels String Ensemble on the 2013 tour is on Disc Three.

There’s little sense in going through the album song-by-song but the standouts include “Headlong Flight,” “Losing It,” “The Camera Eye” and all the tracts from the 1970s. Guitarist Alex Lifeson’s blistering solo on “Working Man” roars to life despite not “being there.” And no your ears don’t deceive you, drummer Neil Peart’s traditional solo is present and accounted for but it’s no longer the eight minute marathon, instead coming midway through “Headlong Flight” and a longer second solo on “Cygnus X-1.”

The version sold at Best Buy comes with a Rush R40 pocket flashlight, otherwise save a few bucks on Amazon or get a package deal through the Backstage Club that comes with one of the tour shirts.

Grade: A-

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 1 Setlist:

  1. The Anarchist
  2. Headlong Flight
  3. Far Cry
  4. The Main Monkey Business
  5. How It Is
  6. Animate
  7. Roll the Bones
  8. Between the Wheels
  9. Losing It (with Ben Mink)
  10. Subdivisions

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 2 Setlist:

  1. Tom Sawyer
  2. YYZ
  3. The Spirit of Radio
  4. Natural Science
  5. Jacob’s Ladder
  6. Hemispheres: Prelude
  7. Cygnus X-1/The Story So Far (drum solo)
  8. Closer to the Heart
  9. Xanadu
  10. 2112

Rush R40 Live CD Disc 3:

  1. Lakeside Park/Anthem
  2. What You’re Doing/Working ManOne Little Victory
  3. Distant Early Warning
  4. Red Barchetta
  5. Clockwork Angels
  6. The Wreckers
  7. The Camera Eye
  8. Losing It (with Jonathan Dinklage)

Written By: AndrewT

Rush Is Alive and Well – No Plans to Retire

Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation:

Rush’s Alex Lifeson Says There’s Life After R40 Tour: ‘I Don’t Think It Is the End’

Rumors of Rush’s demise have been greatly exaggerated — at least according to guitarist Alex Lifeson.

The Canadian trio’s R40 tour earlier this year — documented on the new R40 Live CD and home video set due Friday — was accompanied by reports that it would mark the end of Rush, mostly owing to physical ailments suffered by Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart. It may well prove to be the last tour of its kind for Rush, but the band is still very much alive and ongoing, as far as Lifeson is concerned.

Read more here plus check out Lifeson’s comments on a new album at the end of the article!

Album Review: Def Leppard Delivers With Eponymous Album

Def Leppard released their self-titled album Def Leppard on October 30 – the band’s first studio album in seven years and first new material since a handful of songs put on 2011’s live record Mirror Ball.

The 14 song collection lasts about 55 minutes  and indeed showcases who and what Def Leppard is but also delivers on singer Joe Elliott’s promise that it’s got a bit of everything and doesn’t get stuck in a specific era of Def Leppard albums.

It’s a rather strong album and in many respects is quite refreshing that a veteran act that started 30-something years ago with now 50-something year old band members rises above so much of today’s muck and brings a clear focus to excellent song writing, catchy riffs, great power chords and memorable melodies.

The band doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the first tract “Let’s Go” sounds a bit like their smash hit “Pour Some Sugar on Me” because it does. Not exactly but the structure and guitar chords certainly reflect their most famous song.  “Let’s Go” introduced the public to the new record in September and is totally Dep Leppard but gets bogged down near the end, lasts a bit too long, and doesn’t even compete for best album song.

However, the following song “Dangerous” certainly ranks as one of the best cuts and in fact this song rules. It’s high energy, totally 80s and classic Def Leppard.

A hard core turn comes next with “Man Enough” a song that taps into the band’s inner Queen and sounds nothing like they’ve ever done before. It’s got a great opening Rick Savage bass line that resonates throughout and after a few listens expect this to get stuck in your head.

If their ballads from the mid-1980s remain relevant today then add “We Belong” to the mix because this is exactly why the ladies come out in droves. You’re all that I am/You’re all that I see/The Keys to the kingdom waiting for me. Yeah, guys can step aside; the women will sop this one up. Add in vocal duties by guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell and Def Leppard just added another element to their repertoire.  Another ode to the ladies follows with “Invincible” but with a little more rock flare.

“Sea of Love” again changes the band’s direction and brings a little bit of everything. It’s got dynamic vocals from Elliott and some crushing guitar chords brought to you by Collen and Campbell who trade back and forth all album long just like they’ve done now for nearly 25 years. “Energized” marks the halfway point and is one of those songs that sounds like Def Leppard but it doesn’t.

Hard driving rock introduces “All Time High” before the song melts into a more modern rock persona and “Battle of my Own” starts off with the acoustics before the band opens up nearly two minutes in. “Broke ‘n’ Brokenhearted” finds the Def Leppard we all know and love with a classic chorus hook. “Forever Young” isn’t a bad song it just doesn’t stand out much and gets lost because the final three cuts bring the album home.

Certainly somewhere a father/daughter dance opened to a Def Leppard song but the country infused “Last Dance” is certain to be played at weddings in the future. It’s more ballad than ballad if you can believe that and might not please the hard rockers but is thoughtful and so well written musically and check out these pretty moving lyrics: Do you remember when we used to dance/Lighting up the universe, living life for what it’s worth/Took a chance.

“Wings of an Angel” puts an end to the slow stuff immediately with some slamming guitars at the front and competes with anything on radio today. Will it translate into a crossover from the band’s oft played 80s hits on classic rock radio? No, but their loss. Finally, “Blind Faith” keeps the modern rock touch with Elliott showing as much vocal range as he’s done on any album.

Not a junker in the whole lot and any one could benefit from the live treatment. Does it measure up to the iconic Hysteria or Pyromania? Nothing ever will, which seems to be the point. Each album stands on its own. So does Def Leppard. Reflection is nice but stands in the way of progress, something Def Leppard worked into this eponymous record.

Def Leppard clearly took their time in producing Def Leppard and based on their commitment and comments about the album, it’s one they are proud of. Hopefully they’ll prove as much next year and showcase the tour around this accomplishment rather than what’s heard every single day on radio and on the last couple of road trips.

Grade: B+

Tract List for Def Leppard:

  1. Let’s Go
  2. Dangerous
  3. Man Enough
  4. We Belong
  5. Invincible
  6. Sea Of Love
  7. Energized
  8. All Time High
  9. Battle Of My Own
  10. Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted
  11. Forever Young
  12. Last Dance
  13. Wings Of An Angel
  14. Blind Faith

Written By: AndrewT