The Story Of DEF LEPPARD's SLANG Album (Released 23 Years Ago)
Def Leppard released their sixth studio album Slang 23 years ago on this day in 1996 which marked a change in their sound.
The sixth studio album of all original material was released on 13th May in the UK and around the world.
It would be issued a day later in North America where Work It Out was the first single release.
This album was the first to be recorded with 'new guy' Vivian Campbell who had joined the band in February 1992.
He wrote the song Work It Out and contributed to the writing of many others on an album which marked a radical change in direction for the band's sound.
Work began on the album in late 1993 when band members wrote songs at their homes around the world before coming together to record in May 1994. Recording took place in a house in Marbella, Spain by the coast. The band co-produced the album with Pete Woodroffe and recorded many songs live.
The recording lasted for around 8 months in Spain before the band headed back to Dublin. Further work was done in early 1995 before the band took a break from July to November to work on the release of the Vault - Greatest Hits album and embark on a two month acoustic promo tour.
Rick Savage 1996 - "It gave us a bit of time to work on Slang because we were, and still are trying to break away from that image of the '80s that Def Leppard was a huge part of. To us, initially, it seemed like we were dragging up the past again, but then we realized that if we were ever going to put a greatest-hits album out, it would have to be then. It is closing a chapter and making some sort of statement that that was then and this is now."
From December 1995 to February 1996 the band completed work on the album at Bow Lane Studios in Dublin. They finished on 10th February.
Rick Allen returned to using real acoustic drums on the album for the first time since 1981's 'High 'n' Dry'.
Slang Album - Promo Photos
Taken in 1996.
Joe Elliott 1996 - "It was nice to see Rick playing real drums again. Eleven years later, he's playing better than he did when he had two arms. It made the rest of us attack our own part of the album with a lot more confidence."
"Slang" reached Number 5 in the UK Top 40 chart. The fourth consecutive studio album to reach the Top 10.
In the USA it entered at Number 14 on the Billboard Top 200 chart which was its peak position and sold a reported 59,500 copies in week one.
The title track had been issued as a single in the UK onand got the Number 17 in the charts. The first of three Top 40 singles in the UK from this album.
The UK version of the album included a Limited Edition 2CD set. The second bonus disc featured a six song 'Acoustic In Singapore' live show record in October 1995.
Below are some quotes about the album from the band and reflections on the album by Vivian 20 years on.
Joe spoke to MTV Europe in late April 1994 (in the run up to the Mick Ronson Memorial show in London) only a few days before the band started work on the album in Spain (on 1st May 1994).
Joe Elliott - Late April 1994 MTV Europe Quotes
"With Retro-Active we went out of our way to make sure that that was like an absolute opposite to anything we'd done since at least High 'n' Dry. And we wanna keep going in the same direction. We wanna do something a little bit more hard edged. Still with the emphasis on like you know good songs. We start the album on the 1st of May. So we'll see how long it goes for, how long it takes, but it won't be four years because the kind of record we wanna make doesn't demand that kind of over involved production. We want it to be a lot more basic and that goes hand in hand with being quicker."
No Mutt Lange
"We figured that the kind of record we wanna make and things being the way they are. They're kind of very retro sounding at the moment and back to basics. Making that kind of record, I don't think Mutt would really be too keen on doing it because his thing is always push forward on production. We don't really wanna get too heavily into production this time. We just want an emphasis on the energy and the actual songs that we're gonna do. So we've got nearly two hours worth of material already written. And we're gonna get together on Sunday or Monday and start banging away at it."
May 1996 - Joe Elliott Quotes
"It's the most vibrant and artistically satisfying record we've made. We've co-produced and written this record ourselves."
"The thing we're trying to achieve with this record, is that you didn't put it on and say, 'This is a great production,' which is what people judged Hysteria and maybe Adrenalize on. That was a big thing for us, we wanted people to hear the group rather than hear the production of the record."
"It was like going to Summer School. It was like Boys Together Outrageously. We got on with doing the job. We didn't have to clock-watch. We could look out the window and see the ocean. We weren't stuck in some poxy studio somewhere, and the clock's ticking away and you don't know whether it's raining or snowing or there's a riot going on outside. We were just in our own non-corporate world. We wanted to do a similar thing to what Zeppelin and bands like that did in the '70s, when they went into a house and just created their own environment, and that's exactly what we did. It was so relaxing that it gave us more energy to be as noisy as we were on 'Pearl of Euphoria' or 'Flesh,' and when we did acoustic guitars on 'Where Does Love Go When It Dies,' they were actually recorded outside at midnight with incense, candles, dogs barking, cars going past. It's all on tape."
October 1996 - Phil Collen Quote
"It was the best recording experience ever. "I refuse ever again to sit in a studio, a dungeon, for three years. We want to have fun."
Joe Elliott - 1996 Band Biography Album Quotes
"The thing we're trying to achieve with this record," says Joe, "is that you didn't put it on and say, 'This is a great production,' which is what people judged Hysteria and maybe Adrenalize on. That was a big thing for us, we wanted people to hear the group rather than hear the production of the record."
"It's amazing, because we got that sound in a house," laughs Joe. "There was no fancy studio, it was just recorded on a little cheap desk in a house in Marbella."
"It was like going to Summer School," recalls Joe. "It was like Boys Together Outrageously. We got on with doing the job. We didn't have to clock-watch. We could look out the window and see the ocean. We weren't stuck in some poxy studio somewhere, and the clock's ticking away and you don't know whether it's raining or snowing or there's a riot going on outside. We were just in our own non-corporate world. We wanted to do a similar thing to what Zeppelin and bands like that did in the '70s, when they went into a house and just created their own environment, and that's exactly what we did. It was so relaxing that it gave us more energy to be as noisy as we were on 'Pearl of Euphoria' or 'Flesh,' and when we did acoustic guitars on 'Where Does Love Go When It Dies,' they were actually recorded outside at midnight with incense, candles, dogs barking, cars going past. It's all on tape."
"The one thing that anybody in a band hopes is that their audience grows with them,"
Billboard February 2014 - Phil Collen Interview Quote
"It was an essential album for Def Leppard. It was a drastic move, left-field for us. It was experimental. It went against the grain from what we normally were doing at the time. We felt like with 'Adrenalize' it started turning a little bit similar, so it was important to do something different at that point."
March 2016 - Vivian Campbell Interview Quotes -
"We didn't really know what we were going to do or what we could do. The only clear point that we had when we were starting to make the Slang record was that we could not make a record that sounded like Def Leppard. We knew that we would be totally crucified if we made a record with big harmony vocals and lush production. It was just so against the trend of what was popular at the time, so there was that going on."
"Sav's father passed away on the eve of going into the studio to make that record. Joe and Phil were both going through divorces. It's just stuff was happening. We were never going to go in to making that record and write a song like "Let's Got Rocked." That was definitely not going to happen."
"I actually love the sound of that record. I love the sonics of it. I love the way that we technically recorded it. We didn't process stuff very much. We didn't do too many overdubs. The guitar sounded great. Rick used acoustic drums for the first time in decades. It's a good sounding record."
"I do wish, on some of the songs, we'd maybe compromised a little bit and worked a little bit more towards incorporating some of the things that Def Leppard were famous for like a little bit more melody, a little bit more vocal structure. There seemed to be a tendency to just want to go full grunge on it."
"Of course, we were doing all this without benefit of a real producer. We co-produced the record with Pete Woodroffe, who was a long time engineer and co-producing friend of ours, but we didn't have the guidance of someone like Mutt Lange, someone with a clearer vision to steer us through that. It was make it up as you go along basically. There's some really good points and some really bad points to it."
February 2016 - Vivian Campbell Interview Quotes -
"I think scattered is actually a good word to describe recording the Slang album. Leppard went in to make that record knowing only one thing as fact, and that was that we couldn't make a Def Leppard record. We couldn't make a record that sounded like Def Leppard. We had to try all these different things. So we were very scattered. We were very direction less on it and we didn't have Mutt Lange. We didn't have that kind of producer you know. We went into the studio with Pete Woodroffe who was an engineer/co-producer. But he was not, at least not at that stage of his career, he was not forceful enough to shape the direction of the record or the band."
"And a lot of stuff was happening personally with the band. I think you know a lot of grown up stuff was starting to happen like death, divorce. So it was hard to kind of get your head around singing songs like Let's Get Rocked. You know we weren't gonna do anything like that on the record that's for sure. For various reasons like I just explained. So it was, it was very experimental and I think it's fair to say it was quite direction less. But it was all we could do at the time. And under the circumstances it actually came out good. I think sonically it's a great sounding record because as a result of all this confusion you know."
"We, Def Leppard, at the time kind of recorded live. And that was very much not the kind of thing that Def Leppard did but we actually were pretty solid at the time. So it was good and Pete was a good enough engineer to capture the sound of the band live. And Rick went back to using an acoustic kit in whatever way he could on that record. So the guitar tones, the drum tones and the organic sound of the record is actually sonically really, really strong I think."
"Personally and I think you'd get five different answers from all five members of Def Leppard on this. But personally I think we probably could of spent a little bit more time polishing some of the songs you know. Incorporating a little bit more of the aspects that we were strong on like the hooks and some more backing vocals. As opposed to making it as stripped down and raw as it was. But you know other people might disagree."
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