Sometimes you want music that makes you think—that makes you re-evaluate certain long held opinions you may have. Other times you just want music that’s just plain fun—pure mental vacation. This is the music that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not music for the sake of music, it’s not music for the sake of the almighty dollar, it’s music purely for fun.
Def Leppard is fun, they always have been, their new album Yeah! is no exception. Generally cover albums are “stop-gaps” to buy time for the band to finish working on original material without the band falling out of the public spotlight. Generally they’re hit or miss, and many fans consider them “cop-outs”—after all we fans have heard the same old song before. We want something new!
What makes Yeah! work where other cover albums have failed is Def Leppard’s song selection. These are all songs by bands that influenced the various members of Def Leppard in their youth. With many of the groups/musicians they chose to cover—they didn’t go with the obvious—with T-Rex a lesser band would have covered Bang a Gong (Get It On), Def Leppard chose 20th Century Boy; for Sweet one might expect Ballroom Blitz or possibly Fox on the Run, but they chose Hell Raiser; for Free just about anyone would expect All Right Now, but instead they went with Little Bit of Love, with ELO the obvious would have been Don’t Bring Me Down (or possibly Do Ya?), but Def Leppard instead went with 10538 Overture.
Some of these songs Def Leppard is exactly the band you’d expect to cover them—Hell Raiser is probably the most obvious. On their Retro-Active CD the Lep chose to cover Sweet’s Action to great effect. Perhaps because Sweet was to the seventies what Def Leppard was to the eighties. Pure glam-rock fun, not at all pretentious, just good old fashioned rock and roll fun (with a bit of hairspray thrown into the mix for good measure).
Other songs are less obvious, although still (in some cases surprisingly so) quite respectable covers—The Kinks Waterloo Sunset, ELO’s 10538 Overture, David Essex’s Rock On, and Roxy Music’s Street Life all fall within that category.
After 2002’s X, which bored me to tears after only a couple of spins in my CD player, I was a bit apprehensive, but the price was right and I figured after High ‘n’ Dry, Pyromania, and Hysteria Def Leppard had more than earned a second chance. These guys may not be the band to make you think about the ills of the world, their music isn’t what one might hear in a Starbucks, and it certainly will never be considered high art—but there’s already plenty of that kind of music out there. Def Leppard is fun, that’s what people listen to them for and Yeah! is just the kind of album that can re-establish their reputation with a new generation of fans.