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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
23 Years Ago Def Leppard Release Retro-Active Compilation Album

Tuesday, 4th October 2016

Retro-Active 1993.

Def Leppard released their compilation album Retro-Active 23 years ago on this day in 1993.

The album was released on this day in the UK and around the world. And one day later in the USA and Canada. It became their third consecutive Top Ten album in the UK reaching Number 6.

The first ever compilation album or collection released by the band. It featured B Sides and unreleased tracks dating from 1984 to 1992.

The band first had the idea for an album featuring B Sides and new songs when touring the Hysteria album in 1987/1988. They had aimed to get the album released in the Summer of 1989 but plans were later shelved.

The idea resurfaced in December 1992 (when Joe also came up with the album title) and the project was put together in just six months. Recordings took place backstage on the May 1993 European tour. They also recorded at Joe's Garage home studios in Dublin before and after the Don Valley Stadium show. The project was then finished off by August of 1993 and ready for release by October.

Def Leppard 1993.

This album was seen as a tying up of the Steve Clark era of the band before making their first album with new member Vivian Campbell. Vivian made his first recorded contributions to the band on this album.

Among the 13 main album tracks were two unreleased gems first written and recorded from 1984 to 1987. 'Desert Song' and 'Fractured Love'. The latter was part of the original tracklisting for the Hysteria album in Spring 1985 before Mutt Lange returned and the song was shelved. The intro was recorded by Joe on 11th June 1993 by tapping his fingers on the studio vocal booth "baffles". The sound was then enhanced and looped to form the atmospheric intro.

Most of the tracks were B Sides originally released in 1992 on the various Adrenalize CD/Vinyl singles. All three B Sides on the UK 'Make Love Like A Man' CD single were re worked and ended up as the three singles from this album.

Two Steps Behind had a string section added to it and was the first taste of this album having been released in July 1993 as part of the soundtrack to the 'Last Action Hero' movie. It's first ever in concert performance was captured on film at the Don Valley Stadium show on 6th June in the middle of the final recording sessions.

Three songs were released in 1987/1988 as Hysteria single B Sides. The songs had a new snare drum sound added and were remixed to give them new life.

Read a great article below from October 1993 where the band tell the story of making the album in their own words just as the Adrenalize tour was about to end in Mexico City.

For long term fans you may notice (and remember) how similar their words sound to what was said about the making of current self-titled album released in October 2015.

Def Leppard 1993.

The Making Of Retro-Active In Def Leppard's Own Words - October 1993

Joe Elliott

"We thought about it last December, starting working on it in our heads in January, physically started working on it in May and we finished it in August."

"The majority of the recording was done in Dublin in nine days. I had a nine o'clock flight to Japan one morning, and I was still in the studio at 8:20 having been in all night working on the intro to 'Fractured Love'. I just made the flight!."

"I've got my fingers crossed that we can keep that mentality when we go in to do the next record. I'm hoping we won't freeze up again!. The attitude of the band has changed so much since the start of '92. It's a different animal."

Phil Collen

"We even recorded some stuff backstage. We just thought. 'We gotta get this done!'. We decided not to treat 'Retro-Active' like a normal Def Leppard album, cos we have tended to get a stick up our arses, over-recording and over-thinking everything. We just said, 'Either it's right or it ain't'."

"'Hysteria' sounds brilliant, but you had to contrive that excitement to a certain degree. This time we didn't have to. When we did 'Hysteria' we were thinking, 'We gotta get this thing finished, it's costing so much money'."

"'Retro-Active' was great, no weird head-trips going off. I enjoyed doing this album, and I can't really say that about the other ones, I like the way the others turned out, but I didn't enjoy the process."

"The inspiring thing about this album is that the sleeve cost more than the recording!."

Rick Allen

"That big Def Leppard sound that's been around since 'Pyromania' has been a bit overdone, and everybody else has tried to do it as well. Ever since I got an acoustic kit at home, I've had a lot of fun going back to real drums."

Joe Elliott

"This processed drum sound that we're always getting criticised for; what the fuck do people expect?. They guy's got one arm!."

"It's very difficult for him to play an acoustic kit, because Rick's reliant on electricity - just as an electric guitar is reliant on electricity. It's taken us a long time to make that electric kit sound like an acoustic kit, but we've managed to do it on 'Retro-Active'."

"When you've got an acoustic drum kit that sounds big and fat, you have to make everything else sound big and fat - otherwise the drums sound too big and everything else sounds weedy. What were we gonna do? Fire Rick because he couldn't play an acoustic kit?."

Def Leppard 1993.

Rick Savage

"The general feeling in the band is that we want to get back to a more earthy feel. It's still gonna sound like Def Leppard, whatever we do, but we want to get back to our roots. The 'Retro-Active' album is the direction we're going in."

"I don't know whether that would work with Mutt Lange producing, although we may still write songs with him. It depends how the next album goes."

"Mutt's working with people like Michael Bolton now: not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not exactly my cup of tea."

"Then again, the guy produced AC/DC's Back in Black - one of the classic Hard Rock albums, I'd hate to get to the stage where we'd never work with Mutt again, cos we do work well together, there's no question about that."

Joe Elliott

"We approached 'Retro-Active' in a whole new way. We were living on the road, hearing stories,. We weren't locked away in our own little world, cut off from outside influences."

"We were very aware of what was going on around us, so that's why this album sounds much more 'now'. In the past, we've tried to make albums that sound like the future."

"We get accused of selling out, but AC/DC didn't grow up listening to Sweet and Slade and T. Rex. We did, and that's why we have a Pop element to our music. With 'Retro-Active', maybe we're re-awakening the Rock beast!."

"Who'd have thought we'd get an album done in six months?. Well, who'd have bet on Sunderland beating Leeds in the '73 Cup Final?!."

Retro-Active 1993 - Press Biography Quote

"This is not a new Def Leppard album - nor is it an old Def Leppard record. It is "Retro-Active", a collection of songs that have appeared in hard to find places or, in certain cases, never made it out of the studio until now. "Retro-Active" was compiled from songs recorded over a nine year period and features three versions of Def Leppard: with Phil and Steve on guitars, with Phil alone, and with the current Phil/Vivian axis."

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