12 Years Ago DEF LEPPARD Release The YEAH! Covers Album
Def Leppard released their first covers album YEAH! on this day in 2006 in the UK and worldwide.
The album had been a long time dream for Joe who also came up with the cover art concept. Over 20 songs were recorded for the album with 14 making the main album version.
It did not receive great support from the UK label and only charted at Number 52 after its release on 22nd May 2006. The lowest chart position there for a Def Leppard album.
It was released one day later on 23rd May in North America where it debuted at Number 16 on the Billboard Top 200 chart selling 42,000 copies in week one.
The inner sleeve booklet features reproductions of the original artists' album photographs by Mick Rock who had also taken the originals. Sav portrayed Freddie Mercury, Viv (Marc Bolan), Phil (Iggy Pop), Joe (David Bowie) and Rick (Lou Reed).
Once again the album was co-produced by the band with Ronan McHugh. A number of guests appeared including for the first time relatives of the band members.
Vivian's brother John played saxophone with Anita Collen and Kristine Elliott contributing backing vocals. Other guests included Emm Gryner, Stevie-Vann Lange and Justin Hawkins of The Darkness.
The origins of the album date back to mid 2003 when the band were touring for the X/Ten album in the USA/Canada.
Sav had mentioned plans to start work on a new studio album in January 2004. During August 2003 the band played two cover versions at live shows. Badfinger's 'No Matter What' and Thin Lizzy's 'Don't Believe A Word', which would end up on the album.
Both Rick Allen and Vivian Campbell heavily hinted at a covers album in radio/TV interviews during the US and European tours. Vivian suggesting they would record two new albums at the same time.
The album's main recording was done in early 2004 at Joe's Garage studios in Dublin. In March 2004 what turned out to be a fake tracklisting was leaked online. Fans noticed the first letters of the song titles spelled out 'This Is Bullshit'. Only one song title "Stay With Me" was correct. In early 2005 a rough mix version of the album also leaked online featuring the same 14 songs on the released version.
In May 2004 Sav confirmed plans for the covers album and said it would be released in September. However, much like the 'Slang' album, plans changed as the UK record company put together a new 2CD Best Of - which eventually came out in October 2004.
As a preview of the covers album 'Waterloo Sunset' by The Kinks was included. At the same time Joe confirmed the covers album was nearly finished.
In August 2004 news of therelease was announced. Photographer Ross Halfin confirmed one of the covers recorded by the band was 'Rock On' by David Essex. The song would go on to be played live during the 2005 tour.
Following the UK Best Of plans were announced for a US/CAN version. The eventualalbum came out in May 2005 and resulted in the highly successful June-November Rock Of Ages tour. This tour saw the band's live profile raised to its highest level since the Adrenalize tour.
The album was preceded by another 'YEAH!' preview song in the form of 'No Matter What'. This was also released as a single and promo video. The album's tentative tracklisting and release details were finally announced on 30th March 2006.
'YEAH!' was eventually released in May 2006 over two years after the main recording work was completed. Both new songs were remixed slightly on the finished album.
In October 2012 Phil Collen released his solo cover of The Police's songfor free online. This song, along with a cover of the MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams', was the only unreleased music from the 'YEAH!' sessions. The MC5 song now the sole unreleased track.
Below are some quotes about the album from the band.
YEAH! By Rick Savage - May 2006
"For those of you not old enough to remember the British music scene in the early '70s, picture five guys, totally unconnected, growing up in the industrial working class areas of England and Ireland."
"Barely into their teens, they were already being pulled by the allure of Radio One, Radio Luxembourg and T.V. shows like Top Of The Pops, emulating their new-found heroes such as Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Sweet, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople, and many more, who would go on to create the era known as Glam Rock."
"Coupled with their leanings towards hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Queen, the seeds that would create a friendship and musical understanding were being sown then, and they are as strong now, as ever."
"When deciding to record some of the songs that were so influential in our youth, I thought we would be facing a nightmare task just to narrow the number down to fifty or so. How wrong could I be?."
"It soon became apparent that many of the songs appealed to all five of us, stirring up our own individual memories and feelings of a period in time that was to shape just about everything we've tried to achieve as Def Leppard."
"We had a lot of fun making this record. We have a lot of fun listening to this record."
"Now has merged with then to create a buzz that can be only summed up in one word: YEAH!."
"Hope you get as much fun out of it as we do."
"Oh, and by the way, if you're not old enough to remember, you don't know what you missed..."
Phil Collen May 2016 - Interview Quotes
"We finished the album awhile ago, but we had to mix and then remix and have it mastered. So it's good to have it finally out as it was in the can for such a long time."
"Yeah, Joe has been wanting to do this album for close to twenty years…really ever since Bowie released Pin-Ups. (laughs) I think what happened was someone at our UK record label said 'I think it'll be great if Def Leppard did a covers album?'. So that got the ball rolling for us. And we didn't want to do a typical one, we didn't want to do a bunch of hits, it was purely done for us, it wasn't really about, 'let's choose a massive hit and do our thing with it'. I mean some of these songs on the album most people haven't even heard. You would have kind of have had been there in the room in 1972 or something. So that was an interesting thing because the motivation, wasn't about trying to further our career or that we should do this or that thing, it was totally for us. It wasn't for the fans. It's all about us with this one. We had to get it off our chests. By that virtue it's not transparent and a lot more real."
"The fact that we are so familiar with these songs, and because of the era we got into the music with everyone in the band, it was one of the reasons why we done it this way. It's also so we could show everyone where we actually come from musically. A lot people say 'you guys are a metal band', well no we're not, we're a rock band. And this is pretty much the era that we all kind of based the band around. Yeah there are other influences in our music that runs the gamut from Stevie Wonder to Led Zeppelin, but when we discovered music for the first time ourselves, it was this kind of era and genre."
Joe Elliott - 6th April 2006 Interview Quotes
"We wanted to put it out, tour it and make it a legitimate record rather than just some throwaway thing, And we were kind of happy with the way it turned out. Essentially a covers album is supposed to be about fun. It's revisiting your youth and showing the world where your true roots are. It shouldn't be a labour of love."
"To me, we were always a lot more pop than heavy metal, It's been extremely hard to get that point across to people. So the thing is, we could work both ways. We could tour with Journey or Bryan Adams and we could tour with the Scorpions too."
Vivian Campbell - August 2006 Interview Quotes
"This record has been reviewed in one of two ways: Either people think we're all washed up because we decided to do the covers . . . or they think it's a good idea because nobody really wants to hear new Def Leppard. We toyed with the notion of doing a cover song, and Joe Elliott, our lead singer, quickly parlayed that into the concept of doing an entire covers album. So we decided to make a record that reflects where we come from. These songs, for the most part, represent our formative musical years. People are always pegging us as a heavy metal band, which we're really not. Our first and primary influences are pop music. Ultimately we're a sheep in wolf's clothing. If you stripped away the bombast of Def Leppard, there actually are pop songs with choruses underneath."
"There was a lot of politicking. Some people are more fond of certain acts than others. We covered an ELO song. I wouldn't say I was a big ELO fan, but Rick Savage, our bass player, was, so he lobbied for that. And Joe was a huge Bowie fan. When we were setting up the ground rules for the record, we tried to avoid for the most part the obvious songs. We didn't want to do The Beatles. We didn't want to do the Rolling Stones. We should have done a song by Queen. They were a massive influence."
Joe Elliott - September 2006 Interview Quote
"The YEAH! album has been in the making in my head since 1983. It got shoved aside. We were making our own records.... . . We recorded songs that were inspirational to us as young kids, when we were pulling our parents' sleeves and saying, 'I want a guitar for Christmas, please.''
May 2006 - YEAH! Press Release
Def Leppard is back with their new album, YEAH! (Island/UMe), in stores NOW! YEAH! is a tribute to the band's favorite picks from the late '60s and '70s.
On their highly anticipated new album, Def Leppard have created a heartfelt and hard rocking tribute to their musical heroes of the late '60s and '70s -The Kinks, T. Rex, Badfinger David Bowie, Sweet, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Electric Light Orchestra, Thin Lizzy, and Blondie. Recording essential versions of the music that influenced their youth, the band have brilliantly merged the "Now" with the "Then" to create a buzz that can only be summed up in one word: YEAH!
Said Joe Elliott, "I thought it was about time we showed the world what our true roots were... British pop rock from the early to mid '70s. The songs on this album are at least partly responsible for us making the kind of music that we do."
Added Phil Collen, "We didn't want to make the standard covers album and gave this a lot of deep thought as Joe has been going on about doing this sort of project for 26 years. We wanted to express ourselves through these songs and approached the recording process as if they were our own."
Bonus Tracks/Special Editions
22 cover songs were released over the various different versions.
Two exclusive versions were released in the USA. The Target Edition featured 'Action (Live 2005)' and 'When I'm Dead And Gone (McGuiness Flint)'.
The Best Buy Edition featured 'No Matter What (Live 2005)' and 'Winter Song (Lindisfarne)'.
An extra bonus CD was released for Walmart stores featuring three backstage interview segments and five further cover versions. By Tom Petty, Iggy & The Stooges (Phil vocals), David Bowie, Queen (Sav vocals) and Jobriath.
The first time Sav had been heard singing lead vocals on a Def Leppard song (outside of his 'Candy In Your Hands' demo).
An additional bonus track was released only on iTunes USA. A cover of Slade's 'How Does It Feel'. At the time the first 'digital only' released song by the band and sadly now not available.
Phil Collen On Bonus Tracks - July 2006 Interview Quotes
"I think it is great. One retail chain would say, "We want an exclusive" and we had extra tracks so we agreed. We each had done some songs in our home studios while the mood was going on and we decided we could use these songs in that way. I think it is really great to do it in that format – we think it is really cool."
"Selling more records is a great thing. It has been a long time since we sold a lot of records. We had the songs, so why not? When you release an album in Japan, they ask for bonus tracks. The band doesn’t get anything extra out of it. The same deal is starting to happen here. The company wants something exclusive so they can sell more records."
"It is not like we get any extra money out of it. It really is just to get the record into the store and out to people. It gets the record in the rack and that would really suck to do this album and not to get it in the rack. Actually, it has really sucked the past few years when we have put albums out and no one even knows they exist. The stores said that they would advertise the crap out of the record but they wanted an extra incentive to do so; that is fine by me."
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