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Def Leppard - 2008 Songs From The Sparkle Lounge

ARTIST: Def Leppard
ALBUM: Songs From The Sparkle Lounge
LABEL: Polygram/Bludgeon Riffola
SERIAL: 1762675
YEAR: 2008


LINEUP: Joe Elliot - vocals * Phil Collen - guitars * Vivian Campbell - guitars * Rick Savage - bass, backing vocals, additional guitar * Rick Allen - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Go * 02 Nine Lives * 03 C'Mon C'Mon * 04 Love * 05 Tomorrow * 06 Cruise Control * 07 Hallucinate * 08 Only The Good Die Young * 09 Bad Actress * 10 Come Undone * 11 Gotta Let It Go



If you believed all the banter and hype on other rock sites, you'd be expected to believe that the latest offering from British rockers Def Leppard was the be-all/end-all for 2008! For discerning punters, this year has been a pretty good one thus far, but 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' will be struggling to make it onto everyone's top 10 list in my opinion. Let's put a few observations up. Firstly, the album is a straight-ahead sort of rock album. It doesn't contain a lot of sugar bullets, nor is it as layered or overly produced as before. Perhaps this was a conscious decision by the band? Some will be agreeing that stripping the sound back was a good idea, others less so. It's just that in the past, DL's production has always been OTT and a strength. By going back to basics and stripping down the melodic rock veneer, it kind of exposes their sound for what it is. Whether people see this as a flaw? Who knows.. It's merely an observation on my part. Secondly, the material here is a variety of styles. Most of it is ok, but remember I'm not really that much of a fan of this band, so to admit that it's 'ok' is a big admission on my part.. lol!

The Songs
The selection of 'Go' as the album opener was a poor choice in my opinion. The industrial sounding rocker with a hint of monotony did not hit the mark for me.

'Nine Lives' is a big improvement, easily the most accessible tune here with stylistic hints from their musical back-catalogue. The cow-poke themed hard-rock which was so in vogue back in 1990 (remember Tattoo Rodeo and Bon Jovi going down this path?) either has this sub-genre making a return, or is it that The Leps are eighteen years too late? Me thinks the latter.

'Cmon Cmon' is so unashamedly glam that it works a treat. Just think T-Rex and Sweet and you're in the zone. I wonder if this was a leftover from the 'Yeah' album?

The first song of difference is the ballad 'Love'. Took awhile to warm to this, the mid-section goes all pompous, like Queen meets Robby Valentine. It's quite an unusual sound - certainly for Def Leppard it is.

'Tomorrow' reverts back to that glam vibe, with a hint of American modern rock. I'm certain that it will be a good fit for today's radio audience.

Obviously there is still a hangover from the 'Yeah' sessions. 'Cruise Control' is very retro-sounding, though much of the manic guitar work is placed in the here and now.

On the other hand, 'Hallucinate' contains an updated sound, and straddles the fence between between glam/pop and hard rock - the latter winning out it would seem. An ok song.

'Only The Good Die Young' is another to contain points of difference. A jangly rocker for the most part, until the chorus kicks in and heavies up. We're not talking The Rembrandts or some such here, but there are some brief hints of 60's/70's nostalgia to make it interesting.

'Bad Actress' to my ears sounds like Bryan Adams on steroids. The tempo is fast and frantic all the way through, and like the song-title, bad actress also contains bad lyrics, but it comes with the territory aye?

'Come Undone' contains a whole bunch of crunching power chords and not a lot else. It isn't helped by a nothing chorus either. Next.

The closer 'Gotta Let It Go' has a few intriguing styles contained within. It comes to life on the chorus, which is a stark electric contrast to the gentle nature of the verses.

In Summary
I wonder what the band members will truly make of this album in twenty years time. Will they have the gumption to call it a piece of work they are proud of, and will they chuckle nervously and move the discussion on to something else? Even though this album might be categorised as 'classic rock', I believe however that it is far from classic. Twenty years ago I would've classed 'Hysteria' as essential. Twenty years later I would class this effort as nothing more than disposable - in the context of 21st century consumerism. It isn't a bad album by any stretch, but as I said at the outset, it's a straight-ahead rock album with a minimalist sense of attitude. That's not a bad thing for The Leps, considering they have been perpetrators of the 'overblown' in the past, so getting back to basics might be akin to shedding skin. Now that the album is out, we can appreciate what Def Leppard have to offer in 2008. In my case however, I will be looking elsewhere for my melodic rock fix. I'm not finding it here.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on January 01 1970 01:00:00
I've played this a few times on Rhapsody. Like George said, it's not a bad album. But it's not another 'High & Dry' or 'Pyromania' (my two faves) or 'Hysteria'. I can't say that any of the tunes really move me too much, but none of them are poor. This one will have a hard time being in my heavy rotation. I don't see me buying the CD, though, since I can listen to it on Rhapsody when the urge may hit.
#2 | jeffduran on May 12 2008 03:06:23
Absolute Rubbish! IMO The first three albums is where it begins and ends for the Leppsters.
#3 | gdazegod on May 12 2008 06:06:48
Lol! Jeff.. secret
#4 | reyno-roxx on May 12 2008 07:29:45
I like this record. I agree with Jeff in that nothing comes close to topping the first three records, but I found myself enjoying this album on first play. It's still way beyond what everyone else is doing these days in terms of this kind of stuff and it's far better than the woeful 'Slang' and 'X'. The latter was in the bargain racks at 'Fopp' stores for a mere £5 when the band were on tour in the UK at the time!
#5 | george_the_jack on May 31 2008 17:23:10
Too bad! These guys definetely don't respect their history. To be honest, there are many years now that Leps lost their way permanently... Unfortunately, we, the fans of their first albums, can do absolute nothing! They decided for the love of money to play modern rock and hit the commercial door of English rubbish...that's is the truth. So, we must look in other directions to fulfill our desire for good music.

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