Released by: Bludgeon Riffola
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Hard Rock
CD / Digital Edition
02. Turn To Dust
04. All I Want Is Everything
05. Work It Out
06. Breathe A Sigh
07. Deliver Me
08. Gift Of Flesh
09. Blood Runs Cold
10. Where Does Love Go When It Dies
11. Pearl Of Euphoria
12. Move With Me Slowly
13. Truth? (Original Version)
14. Burn Out
15. Worlds Collide
16. Can’t Keep Away From The Flame
01. Turn To Dust (1st Draft)
02. Raise Your Love
03. All I Want Is Everything (1st Draft)
04. Work It Out (1st Draft)
05. Breathe A Sigh (Rough Mix)
06. Deliver Me (Rough Mix)
07. Black Train
08. Blood Runs Cold (Rough Mix)
09. Where Does Love Go When It Dies (1st Draft)
10. Pearl Of Euphoria (Rough Mix)
11. All On Your Touch (2012 Revisit)
12. Anger Me (Deliver Me -1st Draft)
13. Move On Up (Viv Demo)
14. Gift Of Flesh (Phil Vocal)
The 90s’ were a tough time for a lot of people. The bands that had grown up during the 70s and made their name in the 80s playing anthemic, stadium rock to thousands of adoring, fun loving teenagers found themselves trying to ply their trade to another generation. The 90s’ fans were seeing the economy in a rut, how the world was reacting to the first Gulf War, becoming more aware of issues facing the planet and as such were less carefree and fun loving than had been seen only a handful of years earlier. Music took on a more sombre form, bigger issues were sung about, topical content become more the norm rather than asking kids if they ‘Wanna Get Rocked’ anymore.
Aware the musical scene had shifted and sensing a need to adapt, Def Leppard brought out ‘Slang’. There is a clear effort here to offer something new to the listener and at the time, not surprisingly it divided the ‘if it ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ brigade who had purchased their previous albums and the new generation of rock fans who saw Leppard as ‘last year’s model’.
The question now though, some 18 years after its’ initial release, is how well does ‘Slang’ stand the test of time?
Looking at Disc 1 of the 2 Disc set; this contains the original 11 tracks from the 1996 release plus 5 additional. The original tracks sound rather fresh, suggesting that songs like ‘Truth?’ and ‘Work It Out’ were perhaps waiting for their time to shine. The overall feel of the album is more sombre than other albums, in fact they revert back to the classic ‘Hysteria’ sound on the next release ‘Euphoria’ in 1999, so ‘Slang’ really does stand out as an interesting period in Leppard’s career.
‘Turn to Dust’ incorporates the familiar harmonised backing vocals and also adds other styles through the use of sitars in the song as well. ‘Slang’, the track, remains in Leppard’s live set to this day and its groove driven feel good vibe is in stark contrast to other tracks on the album.
Leppard achieve an epic feel on tracks like ‘Pearl of Euphoria’ with its stunning bassline underpinning the song and as we come to the end of the album we get a sense of the effort taken to achieve the right blend of songs and style before the original came out.
Of the bonus tracks, the original version of ‘Truth?’ has less build up and Joe’s vocals kick in harder and faster and the whole tone of the song is rawer and faster conjuring the image of Pyromania era Leppard. ‘Burn Out’ and ‘Worlds Collide’ maintain that gritty feel and show a band proving to the listener that they can manage without the glossy production and deliver solid blue collar rock music.
The ballads still occupy the tracks naturally but even on ‘Can’t Keep Away From the Flame’, it’s kept simple with just acoustic guitars and vocals rather than the epic layers and harmonies of say ’Love Bites’.
On Disc 2, ‘Raise Your Love’ a title straight out of an old Carry On … movie is a forerunner to ‘Slang’ and sees the band with the core of the finished track but probably realising it would not fit the style of the rest of the album, made changes and ‘Slang’ was born.
Elsewhere we have other 1st drafts and rough mixes of songs that were on the original that will appeal to long term fans and anyone interested in understanding the end to end writing and recording process to deliver the final product. Some have the instruments higher or lower in the mix; some like ‘Raise Your Love’ show a very early work in progress and an insight into the minds of the band members.
Highlights of the extra include ‘All on Your Touch’ which gets a 2012 makeover, ‘Black Train’ with its’ Beatles-esque intro and verses, ‘Pearl of Euphoria’ Rough Mix which seems to slow the song down even more but makes it more powerful as a result and finally ‘Anger’ which sums up the mood of a generation during the 90s. ‘Anger’ is a working version of ‘Deliver Me’. It could probably have sold another million copies had it been released as is because it’s the closest Leppard will ever get to angry Metallica-lite with Joe doing his best James Hetfield impression.
A couple of other demos round off the album and the question therefore is; “Does it warrant the purchase if you already own the original?” Put simply YES! 19 extra tracks provide value for money and there are enough new, unheard items that have been tidied up for the release to make the long-time fan happy and enough content for the newcomer to take interest.
The Deluxe Package is available in a variety of different formats all with some small exclusives, differences in tracks, so make your choice wisely.
Written by Adrian
8/10 – Original 11 Tracks from 1996 release
7/10 – Additional tracks on Deluxe Edition.