Def Leppard’s ‘Adrenalize’ was ‘Hysteria Part 2’ and five years after the fact, their sound by now plundered beyond belief.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Def Leppard
LABEL: Bludgeon Riffola/Phonogram
SERIAL: 510 978-2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Joe Elliot – vocals * Phil Collen – guitars * Rick Savage – bass * Rick Allen – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Lets Get Rocked * 02 Heaven Is * 03 Make Love Like A Man * 04 Tonight * 05 White Lightning * 06 Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion) * 07 Personal Property * 08 Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad * 09 I Wanna Touch U * 10 Tear It Down
WEBLINKS: Site Link
The much vaunted history of Def Leppard has been recounted so many times that it’s become one of the more tiresome stories in rock lore. This particular chapter in their career was another tragic one, with Steve Clark’s death in early 1991 from an overdose of alcohol and drug poisoning halting the bands progress yet again.
The band carried on however, with Collen handling all of Clark’s guitar parts, to the point you’d think Clark had been resurrected. Of course the rock landscape had changed for the worse by 1992, with Leppard’s 80’s exploits suddenly termed outmoded and dated. It would take them four more years to recognize this change with the horrific ‘Slang’, but for the time being ‘Adrenalize’ was a continuation of the ‘Hysteria’ approach, another slickly produced hard rock bonanza.
Most observers would consider ‘Hysteria’ far superior to ‘Adrenalize’, but this album has its moments and for me is the last acceptable album they’ve made. It wasn’t as successful as its predecessor but think back to 1992 and I’m sure anyone reading this would’ve had a difficult time evading ‘Let’s Get Rocked’.
Compared to the pretentious, brooding material Leppard have specialized in since this album, ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ makes for harmless, lightweight listening some two decades later. The lyrics are daft of course, but it’s catchy and fun, something they’ve since forgotten how to execute.
This was considered appalling compared to Nirvana and Pearl Jam, who of course had supposedly put the boot to bands like Leppard and their good time shenanigans. The riffs on this album have more of an edge than ‘Hysteria’ and there’s an AC/DC tinge to the guitar work on ‘Heaven Is’ amidst the excellent vocal melodies.
‘Make Love Like A Man’ is full of the overproduced production layers and it works brilliantly, another great rocker with AOR tendencies all over it. ‘Tonight’ has traces of the ‘Pyromania’ era, a trademark Leppard ballad that’s nothing short of classic. The formula they’d perfected was at its apex here, regardless of what year it was.
At seven minutes ‘White Lightning’ could be considered epic, a close relation to ‘Gods Of War’ or ‘Billy’s Got A Gun’, with an atmospheric buildup and somewhat triumphant chorus. ‘Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion)’ is ‘Hysteria’ all over (the song that is), almost as if the five years in between never happened, perfectly acceptable.
Things toughen up for ‘Personal Property’, an archetypical Leppard piece of raunch, something they practically invented. Another huge chart hit was ‘Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad’, a contender for king of all ‘hair’ ballads, a despicable label if there ever was one.
This tearjerker is followed by routine anthem ‘I Wanna Touch U’, which is demolished by ‘Tear It Down’, a song that had originally appeared as a B-side for ‘Hysteria’ in 1987. Although this version clearly misses Steve Clark, it’s still the heaviest song here, basically a remake of ‘Let It Go’ structure wise. This is the last time Leppard ever sounded like a real hard rock band to my ears.
The album sold millions on release, even as their contemporaries started fading left and right. Vivian Campbell soon joined on guitar, causing a further loss of the bands identity and I still think this guy was the wrong choice to replace Clark.
Listening to this now it’s amazing this came out in 1992, as it’s so heavily steeped in the ‘Hysteria’ traditions. In a way I could see why some may have been tired of the production excesses the band had pushed to overload, as it had been plundered over and over by this point.
But for me this album has more appeal than ‘Hysteria’ simply because it hasn’t been as exposed as badly and I find many of the songs more appealing melodically and heaviness wise. Of course it was the end of an era, with the band taking a new direction for ‘Slang’, one that alienated fans and was far less successful.
1999’s ‘Euphoria’ was an attempt to relive the classic years to some extent, but the magic was gone by then. Everything else since has been on the threshold of pure abomination, which makes ‘Adrenalize’ seem classic by comparison.
Let’s Get Rocked
Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)