Def Leppard – “Slang” deluxe edition (Bludgeon Riffola)
When this album was originally released in 1996 it marked a turning point for what had been up until then the meteoric rise of Def Leppard in not achieving platinum status in the US. Music experts pointed to the fact that it was during the height of the grunge era but there were many other contributory factors. Whilst being the first album to feature new guitarist Vivian Campbell, it conversely omitted the significant production helmsman ship of Mutt Lange, whom the band had been with since 1981. Additionally, the band recorded as a group rather than individually, desiring a more organic sound to the point where Rick Allen reverted to a semi acoustic kit. On the personal side Rick Savage was dealing with the death of his father as well as his ongoing battle with Bells Palsy whilst Allen and Joe Elliot were having domestic issues, all of which appeared to contribute in one way or the other on this album, which incidentally didn’t feature the Def Leppard logo for the first time either. With the rights to “Slang” reverting to the band in 2012 it was on the cards that unfinished business in respect of the one that got away would be sorted! The deluxe edition takes the form of the original 11 album tracks re-mastered with a plethora of bonus material made up of demos, rough mixes, and unreleased songs recorded at the time, but all produced and mixed with an excellent sound. Listening to “Slang” it’s clear that the original stadium shaking anthems of the 80s had given way to a slower, more melancholic vibe perhaps indeed influenced by grunge on songs like ‘All I Want Is Everything” to ‘Breath A Sigh’. Even the easy rockin’ ‘Move With Me Slowly’ – a Japan only release at the time – has an air of sadness about it. Ironically unreleased tracks like the hard n trippy ‘Black Train’ were closer to Leppard’s rock out reputation but were probably considered a little too close to Nirvana and hence may have been omitted at the time ironically. Whatever the controversy, fans now have a 19 track deluxe treat to answer all the questions and for Leppard themselves, something that brings closure to that tumultuous period in their time.