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Friday, 5th July 1996

Chicago/Tinley Park, IL - Media Reviews

Def Leppard Lingers In The Sounds Of Its Past By Dean Golemis

Def Leppard has been one of those few remaining bands from pop metal's glory days to endure, surviving both personal tragedy and a musical environment today that passes off much of the '80s as a joke.

What worked for many bands of that era seemed to work especially for Def Leppard - a catchy hook here, a heart-bleeding ballad there and a plenty of finger-trilling guitar solos to sell the millions of sleekly produced albums that these boys from Sheffield, England, have done through most of their long career.

But from the first riff they laid down Friday at the New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park it was clear that the sound which catapulted them to worldwide acclaim smelled as dated as curddled milk.

Even the quintet's effort to modernize their style - as they tried to do in their new album, "Slang" - revealed the tired formula that has given their records little distinction from each other. If anything, the new stuff smacks more of bubble-gum appeal.

While plucking roses from a crowd of yelping female admirers, singer Joe Elliot wailed away above the backing vocals of guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen and bassist Rick Savage. In songs such as "Foolin'" and "Rocket" their fist-pumping chants sounded bombastic and overimposing- a staple of '80s grown pop metal.

With new tunes "Slang" and "Work It Out," Def Leppard's attempt at a sound steeped in a more modern, inner-city groove- a la hip-hop - faltered with a flimsy, watered-down texture that would fit better under a disco ball than in an alleyway.

Slow ballads are more of a Def Leppard speciality. Among these, "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" and the new "All I Want Is Everything" reeked with the kind of generic sentiments that made Bon Jovi famous. The band, however, treated other heart-tuggers with more feeling in acoustic guitar versions of "Two Steps Behind" and "Where Does Love Go When It Dies" in which Elliot's voice blended better with the hollow wood.

In a brief jamming spree in which Campbell and Collen resorted to the usual I'm-a-rock-star-type of rapid riffing, one-armed drummer Rick Allen banged away on his new acoustic skins with full fury and precision and revealed a sound fuller than that of the synthesized drums.

Opening band Tripping Daisy packed strong songwriting and offbeat lyrics in a set that artfully blended punk, '70s hard rock and drops of psychedelia. Singer Tim DeLaughter and his turquoise hair was all the rage as his cracked corny jokes between full-bodied rockers such as "Lost and Found" and "Trip Along."

By Chicago Tribune 1996.


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