Def Leppard - 'Volume One'

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Def Leppard - 'Volume One'

The first of four multi-disc releases that aim to bring together the entire studio recorded output of Sheffield superstars Def Leppard.

Released as both an eight LP and seven CD box-set, 'Volume One' is the first of four multi-disc releases that aim to bring together the entire studio recorded output of Sheffield superstars Def Leppard. For many, this eighties-based box-set will be where it starts and where it ends. Personally, I like every era of The Leps, but even as someone who has stuck by the band to this day, it's impossible to suggest that the triumvirate of 'High & Dry', 'Pyromania' and 'Hysteria' isn't the pinnacle of what this outfit achieved. All three are included here alongside the hugely underrated debut 'On Through The Night', and put simply, if you don't have all four of these albums, go and get them right now. It really is as straight forward as that.

With most people already well acquainted with the main discs in this set, the question really has to be, what else does this box contain? Prior to 'On Through The Night', Def Leppard released a self-titled three track EP and those tracks, 'Ride Into The Sun' and early versions of 'Getcha Rocks Off' and 'The Overture', appear on their own snazzy 7" single or 3" CD, depending on which format you choose. Truth be told, most Leppard-heads will also have these tracks already, as well as the utterly indispensable 'Live At The L.A. Forum 1983' which was previously made available on the deluxe re-issue of 'Pyromania'; although this is its first appearance on (double) vinyl, if that sways your opinion. With the guitar pairing of the much-missed Steve Clarke and, at the time, new recruit Phil Collen (having replaced Pete Willis after 'High & Dry') in mighty form, and a brief guest appearance from Queen's Brian May, it does have to be said that this live set, packed with songs from the era of the band that still hits the hardest on stage (up to and including 'Pyromania'), is the best live recording Def Leppard have put their name to.

The 'Rarities Volume 1' disc gathers together the early singles and subsequent B-sides from the period this set covers. Hence, we start with the two tracks from the band's debut single, 'Wasted' and 'Hello America', which were different versions to those that made 'On Through The Night', and neither of which have been released officially on CD before (if that's your choice). 'Hello America' was then released as a single in its own right and its exclusive flip-track, 'Good Morning Freedom', makes for interesting listening as it apes The Sweet quite blatantly. It would have been nice to have the single edit of 'Let It Go' included for completists, but with it simply shortening the intro and outro, it's easy to see why it's been omitted. Instead, we skip to the synth-heavy re-mix of 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak' and the less obviously tampered with B-side offering 'Me And My Wine', the A-side really being quite a re-working that reminds as much of Foreigner as it does Def Leppard. The quintet of 'Hysteria' era single-only tracks are the phenomenal 'Tear It Down' (which would be re-recorded for 1992's 'Adrenalize' album), 'I Wanna Be Your Hero', re-recorded 'Ride Into The Sun', underrated 'Ring Of Fire' and piss-take cover version of 'Release Me' (supposedly by Stumpus Maximus And The Good Ol' Boys!) bring this mammoth set to a close. They do it in fine style with the three original cuts rivalling anything the band put on 'Hysteria', although they can all also be found on the 'Retro Active' compilation.

As to whether one disc containing some rare(ish) Def Leppard moments is enough to entice you to invest in such a chunky set crammed with songs you probably own already, is questionable at best. The music, however, is as good as it gets.

Steven Reid

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