Re: Def Leppard - High´n´dry
Date: June 18, 2009 06:13PM
High n Dry is a great album, but where you ultimately rank it depends on where youre coming from.
In my opinion, someone who says it's Def Leppard's best album isn't a big fan of the Def Leppard sound, because the core elements that cemented their identity came later. It's tantamount to saying that it's #1 precisely because it's one of their less Leppy albums. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy it, but the only way you'll place it above the others is if you have a preference for straight ahead 70s influenced rock, or a heavier meat & potatoes thing. If you hated X, chances are you'll rank H&D very highly. I think a lot of rock fans instinctively equate heaviness with credibility, and accept melodic or poppy leanings to a certain degree before crying, "sell out!".
While H&D is a great record, stylistically it's very middle of the road. It's a cousin of the AC/DC thing, as others have said, whereas with their two next albums, Leppard became true innovators. There is no comparison because in one they're working within the framework of what existed, and in the next records they blazed a trail. The sonic elements, the guitar interplay, the crossover appeal of the songwriting, the ahead-of-its-time production, etc, etc. People forget because now that lush sound has almost become a cliche, aped by many (included Lep themselves), but at the time it was very inventive. Songs like Rocket, Sugar, Hysteria, etc, brought something new to the table.
Many elements of the Def Leppard style are already present in H&D, you can definitely hear the seeds in there....but just like that record represents a quantum leap from the mediocre OTTN, what was to come represents a quantum leap from H&D for me. Much is made about Steve Clarke because he's dead, but Collen has always been the most gifted songwriter in that band. Even an un-Leppy album like Slang carries greater Lep heritage in it than H&D, because you can hear how Hysteria had to come before it for the guys to be able to churn out Slang. The maturity and the chops to experiment like that come from where they've been.
The whole point of Leppard is that they were able to fuse different genres, find their own specific style, and bring a strong pop sensibility to rock songs....at H&D, they delivered something great, but just weren't there yet. But if what you appreciate about the band is something else, then I can see how you would think H&D is their best work.