This section looks at the 'High 'n' Dry' UK album release. The second studio album release and follow-up to 1980's 'On Through The Night'.
"He honestly thought Mutt was round the bend."
Def Leppard released their classic second studio album High 'n' Dry on this day in 1981 in the UK.
The follow up towas released on 6th July 1981 just ahead of their UK tour which ran from the 13th to the 25th.
It was the first time the band would work with legendary producer Robert John 'Mutt' Lange.
And the album which established the band's trademark sound, introducing them to a wider audience. Featuring their first "hit" single in 'Bringin' On the Heartbreak' as well as other songs that still feature in the live show in 2017 in 'Let It Go' and 'Switch 625'.
The album was later released in the USA and Canada on 21st July (according to the RIAA) and would reach Number 38.
It peaked at Number 26 in the UK charts.
The second studio album released by the band following their first world tour which had ended in October 1980 in Europe.
Soon after the band began writing songs in Sheffield before embarking on a short club tour of the UK in December 1980 to road test some of the new songs.
Side One of the album would played live in sequence for the first time in Kanazawa, Japan on 18th November 2002 during the first leg of the X/Ten world tour. It would be played many more times in 2002 and in 2003 and only once in the UK (28th October 2003 in Cambridge).
Side One would be brought back into the set for the 'Ded Flatbird' segment of the 'VIVA! Hysteria' residency in March/April 2013 and captured on the DVD filming.
The album was written in late 1980/early 1981 back home in Sheffield following a short break after the end of the 1980 tour in December. Having been made to wait for a few months the band met up in London with Producer Mutt Lange and recorded the album at Battery Studios in Willesden, North London from March to June.
Mutt Lange helped to change the band's sound and took them from an ordinary run of the mill NWOBHM band onto a different level. This was highlighted by the song 'When The Rain Falls' with Mutt taking the guitar riff and helping them transform it into 'Let It Go'. Something that would also be done on the next album with 'Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)' (Medicine Man) and 'Too Late For Love' (This Ship Sails Tonight).
'Let It Go' was also the first song to be recorded and the first time the band would work with the late Mike Shipley and fellow engineer Nigel Green. Both of whom, would go on to play integral parts in the 'Pyromania' and 'Hysteria' albums.
No No No.....
The original vinyl record had the NO, NO, NO... ending repeated about 30 times until the record finished playing with no fade out.
Both 'Let It Go' and 'Bringin' On The Heartbreak' were issued as singles in the UK with live promo videos filmed in Liverpool during the July UK tour. As yet no evidence has surfaced on the band actually performing BOTH live during the 1981 tour. 'Let It Go' was the only US single and reached Number 34 on the Rock Chart.
The cover art saw the band team up with Hipgnosis, led by the late Storm Thorgerson, for the first time. Various Pink Floyd websites suggest the artwork was originally designed in the 1970s. Storm had (apparently) intended to use the artwork for two Pink Floyd albums in the late 70s but it was rejected and ended up fitting the title of Leppards album.
Animal Instinct - 1987 Biography Quotes
"Mutt was not present at the band's 1980 songwriting sessions in Sheffield. Leppard had set up shop in the paper factory there with a Fostex deck and a Teac four-track recorder, laying down rough versions of the compiled material. A couple of those demos made their way to London for Mutt's consideration. Then in March of '81, Leppard relocated to a rehearsal space in North London, down the street from a women's prison , ready to start pre-production. On the very first day, Mutt walking in looking like Robert Plant, according to Joe, sporting long wavy blond hair and wearing a heavy trench coat."
"He introduced himself and said 'Right, let's get started then. This song you do When The Rain Falls - play it faster.' So we played it for him, faster than usual. Then he said 'Play it slower.' Then it was faster. He asked me to sing a different melody, to change the meter. This went on and on. And eventually that song became Let It Go."
"Mutt was quite happy with a number of the songs essentially as Leppard had written them. There were a few significant changes made on Another Hit And Run and No No No. High 'N' Dry (Saturday Night), on the other hand, was practically unrecognisable from the song Leppard brought down from Sheffield."
"I wanted one song on the album to have a kind of Highway To Hell feel - no bass to start with, coming in stages," Mutt relates. "We got a groove going for the verse, and then tried to figure out where we wanted to go with it. We'd throw ideas around, these basic feels, sing them and then have the guitarists play them to make them sound a bit more credible. Once the verse was in shape, we worked on the chorus. It had to be a real anthemic sort of thing."
"In retrospect, the actual time spent at Battery Studios (Mutt's studio of preference) cutting High 'n' Dry. was only about two months. The band started in April and, according to Peter Mensch, the last overdub was recorded on June 11, after which Mutt invested another couple of weeks for mixing. But the process of recording each instrument and vocal individually subdivided into sections, was a bit more arduous than Def Leppard were used to. Those two months, at times, seemed like years."
Album Release Date(s)? / Release Date Research
The album was not released in mid June as Twitter would have you believe. The recording was actually finished on 11th June and so this was not the release date.
The date of 11th June actually comes from 'Animal Instinct' and was itself a mistake. A quote that the album recording had been completed on that date. It had actually been completed on 10th June. Joe recording vocals for 'Me And My Wine' before travelling to Germany for a show on the evening of 10th June 1981. Joe was pictured with the finished album sleeve a day later on 11th June in Paris.
All official discographies from 1987 to 2005 printed the release date for the album as "July 1981". It was not until the 2006 YEAH! tour programme that it was listed incorrectly as 11th June. A mistake which has been repeated online...only with 11th July. That tour prog does mention 11th July but only for Pete Willis being fired.
The 11th June date is also influenced by photos of Joe holding the new album cover in Paris on 11th June 1981 when the band were on tour with Rainbow. One of the photos was later used in UK rock magazine in the 90s with the date below the photo.
One example shown above is from the 1994 'Action' discography with a preview note for the proposed 'Official Def Leppard World-Wide Discography' which had been due to be released in 1995 but never was.
Some UK tour adverts in the UK press at the time also list the 20th July as a release date. Including one major UK music magazine dated 11th July 1981. It's unclear if this was a mistake or the album was actually pushed back. One week from release to a chart entry does not match other albums at the time.
However that date does not tie in with it's chart entry date (three weeks after the 6th July release date) which is in keeping with other UK releases of the time.
Note - The 11th July 1981 was a Saturday and therefore not the release date of the 'High 'n' Dry' album. It was released on 6th July in the UK and 21st July in USA/Canada. The 11th July date was posted randomly years ago on Wikipedia and has not been updated since.
Conclusion - It was released in JULY 1981...but 6th July is the most likely for the UK at least.
High 'n' Dry - UK Tour June 1981 News Story
Def Leppard Prowls Again
Def Leppard undertake their first British tour for over a year next month to coincide with the release of their second album, 'High 'n' Dry', which is released by Vertigo on July 6.
HMV UK Tour Album Ticket Offer
The tour started on 13th July and HMV stores offered 50p off the album price if you presented your ticket stub. An offer which closed on 31st August.
"Special Offer - If you present your ticket stub from any of the eleven tour dates at your HMV store you will receive an extra 50p reduction on the album which will really leave you High 'n' Dry."
High 'n' Dry Album News Story 1993 - Rick Savage Interview Quotes
‘On Through The Night’ may have sold 250,000 copies, but Leppard were £175,000 in debt to Phonogram. Needing a substantial commercial hit with it’s successor, they turned to up-and-coming producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange.
"He’d heard the first album and he was really impressed by it," Savage elaborates. "Not so much by the production, but by the songs. I think he was also impressed by the fact that they were written by really young, immature kids. He’d done the AC/DC record (‘Back in Black’), and I think he wanted to find a band that had AC/DC implications in their music, but something different as well.
"From ‘High ‘N’ Dry’ onwards, although we’d like to take a lot of credit for how the direction of the band went, Mutt was the first person to get us together collectively and steer us. We didn’t have one leader in the band, and we still don’t to this day. It’s always been a complete democracy. Most of the time that works but, especially in the early days, you do need that one guy - even if he’s wrong - to say, ‘This is what we’re doing’. Mutt was the guy who did that.
Preparing material for ‘High ‘N’ Dry’ was an arduously slow process. To relieve the monotony, Leppard booked a UK club tour in December 1980. Their standing at home was emphasised by poor attendances: 87 people paid to see the band at Nottingham’s Boat Club, 150 at Retford Porterhouse.
In March they retired to the studio to begin pre-production on ‘High ‘N’ Dry’. ‘Mutt’ Lange’s approach was quickly established.
Savage: "I remember Joe’s first impression of him, which I thought was f**king hilarious at the time. We’d recorded the backing track for ‘High ‘N’ Dry (Saturday Night)’, and Joe was going to start doing his vocals. Anyway, every time Joe had got the first two words out, ‘Mutt’ would press ‘stop’ and make him do it again.
"Joe was a little bemused about the whole thing; he initially thought it was a genuine mistake. This routine went on for 45 minutes, and eventually Joe came out of the studio and said, 'This guy is f**king mad'. He honestly thought Mutt was round the bend, ‘cos he wouldn’t let him sing a line."
Once this psychological number (as Savage describes it) was resolved, the album was completed methodically, but without incident. ‘High ‘N’ Dry’ was released in July 1981, with the band promoting it with a European Tour supporting Rainbow and a headlining UK Tour, where they once again played to half-full venues. Naturally, the US provided an escape route.
"Again, it was through lack of choice," Savage states. "We weren’t doing great business in England. We didn’t really set America alight either, but the album went on to sell about 200,000 copies over there. We had a support tour with Blackfoot, then one with Ozzy Osbourne, and that was it. We came home, the album had stopped selling, and it was time to start writing songs for the next record again.
In fact, Leppard did make a final stab at Europe in the winter of 1981, supporting Judas Priest. ‘High ‘N’ Dry’ had sold 300,000 copies worldwide, only a third more than the debut.
High 'n' Dry Album - 1981 Band Member Quotes
"We're looking forward to it a lot. We've got some great songs and Mutt Lange is an excellent producer. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people who thought we were just a sort of flash in the pan."
Rick Allen (on Mutt Lange)
"The guy is a genius. He's a slave driver, but he's a genius."
Mutt Lange to Peter Mensch 1979 Quote
"He's not the best singer I've ever heard but he shows promise. I'd like to do their next album."
Joe Elliott (on not using Tom Allom again)
"Tom is great, really funny, but we didn't want to use him on the second album. We didn't want to get stuck in a rut, we wanted something different and we wanted it to be a definite improvement, which it is, Mutt is great. He really works you hard and you need that in the studio."
Joe Elliott (on the studio)
"I'll admit I'm a real wimp in the studio basically because there you've got no natural adrenalin, there's no audience, no nothing. Mutt put a lot of dynamics into AC/DC and everybody else and that's what our last album lacked. If this album sounds anything like AC/DC it's not his doing. It's our songwriting. He's given us a sound on this album which we didn't have before."
Joe Elliott (on puppet accusations)
"We've heard all that stuff about how our manager Peter Mensch is manipulating us and how we're the playthings of our record company. Cobblers!."
"Of course they have a say in what records come out and in what tours we do and all that sort of thing. but as far as our music is concerned that's completely down to us. We're not a bunch of idiots who don't know how to make a decision. We've got our own minds and we know how to use them."
Joe Elliott - 17th August 1981 Interview Quote
On Through The Night Song Title
"Because we wanted that kind of reaction from it really. And it's like having two titles tracks on one album. It wasn't a leftover from the first album. We just thought it was a good title to use for a song. So it was really Steve that was nagging me to do it. So I did it."
1996 Work It Out Album Postcards - Rick Allen Quotes
"This was when we started taking it seriously, and found out what hard work really was."
"Mutt Lange at the helm at Battery studios in Willesden, London."
"Our first venture into video promo saw us featured on a new channel in America called MTV. The song from the album was "Bringin' On The Heartbreak."
"This album was slow to take off but a year after it's release it started to make waves in the U.S. Thanks to "Bringin' " on the MTV."
"This record is a favourite of mine."
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