AUGUST 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 8



CURRENT

FEATURE
Def Leppard "Euphoria"

ALSO THIS MONTH
Big Meteor

LAST MONTH
Limp Bizkit: Rock's Facelift

ARCHIVES



Sound Bites
Grading from A-F

BIG METEOR
Wild River:
Big Meteor's self-released debut album is an eclectic mix of roots rock, country and blues. Although the Ontario, Canada natives credit Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith among their influences, they sound more like the Kinks or Jimmy Buffet than either of these hard rock bands. The tonal quality and almost bored singing style of David Wimble approximates that of Buffet, although for the most part the songs aren't as upbeat.

Rather the songs deal with loss and pain as heard in the title song, "Poor Boy" and "Wall of Ice". The lyrics are very much centered around man vs. nature images, something to which big city audiences may not relate. Highlights include the tender "Alive in Every Hour" and the extremely Kinks-esque "Wild River". C+ [Buy It]

- Kevin Ridolfi


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Def Leppard - A study in Perseverance

Euphoria
DEF LEPPARD
Euphoria

(Mecury)
13 Tracks | Running time: 51:02

Rating: B
BUY IT


KEVIN RIDOLFI

It was certainly a shock, in this the year of Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock, to turn on the radio and hear the familiar clean guitars and catchy choruses of Def Leppard springing anew from the speakers. Yet, as eternally removed as we are from the hair bands of the 80s, I wasn't really surprised. After all isn't this the band that never says quit. Against impossibly numerous bouts of bad luck, the elder statesmen from Sheffield, England epitomize perserverance.

After a failed attempt in 1996 to capture the more modern styles of grunge and industrial ("Slang"), the quintet now returns to the more comfortable sound of "Pyromania" (1983) and "Hysteria" (1987) with surprising ease. Their new album, "Euphoria", relies heavily on polished backing vocals, sing-a-long lyrics and the old recognizable dual guitars - not to mention their strange obsession with words ending in "-ia".

While Def Leppard came under fire for their sugar-coated work on "Adrenalize" (1992) in the new Nirvana-fueled music scene, they had never been about philosophical lyrics and self-absorption. Instead, despite their numerous tragedies including a death and an amputation, they were always the feel good band that provided upbeat radio fodder like "Hysteria" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me". Their tracks have never been profound or critically acclaimed, yet they seem to capture the very essence of rock music - finger snapping, foot stomping romps. Traditionally, after all, music was always for dancing, singing and partying, not for sitting in the dark pitying one's self.

"Euphoria" follows this same tried and true creed. Joe Elliot's raspy voice spouts off about lost love, future love, chasing love and consummating love - if anything Def Leppard seems intent on writing on the subject of amoré from every possible angle. As silly as a song like "21st Century Sha La La La Girl" may seem on the surface - and from the title - the melody catches hold and doesn't let go. That almost mystical allure and recall of Def Leppard songs has been their bread and butter for two decades. Prodded by long-time friend Robert "Mutt" Lange (husband and driving force behind Shania Twain), they write and record the songs you inadvertently start singing in the shower two weeks after hearing them. No easy task.

Despite the trend, let's not belittle the musical talents of those who can force you to sing their songs, try as you might to resist. Generations from now, it is quite possible that Leppard songs will appear on movie soundtracks as hummable fare for the unaware, much as the silly, yet infectious, songs from the 50s seem to spring up at every turn from commercials to modern "boy gets girl" movies.It seems with the walls of noise created by bands like Fear Factory, that lessons in the melodies of yester-year couldn't hurt.

With songs the likes of "Promises" and "Goodbye", Def Leppard's success can too easily be tossed off as simple fuel for the rejected or love lorn. Lyrics to the effect of "if it's so wrong to feel so right" must be pulling the strings, right? Wrong. On the surface the achy breaky heart words seem to be the driving force, but it's actually the guitars. Even without founding member Steve Clark (who died from an overdose in 1992), the twin guitars and ringing melodic runs are the most recognizable element. Proof? "Euphoria" contains an instrumental, "Disintegrate", which may very well be the most stirring and memorable track on the album (think Top Gun II).

So, in a time of over-serious musicians, in-your-face content and questionable instrumental skills, accept Def Leppard for what they bring to the table. Or at the very least admire them for their stick-to-itiveness.

TOP


KEVIN RIDOLFI of Pawtucket, RI, is the creator and editor of Renaissance Online Magazine. He can be reached at kridolfi@renaissancemag.com



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