Review by David Waterfield
After multi-platinum successes with Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalize, Def Leppard set to work on their next album. It was the first all-new work to feature Vivian Campbell in the line-up and the first since their debut On Through The Night to have no input from Robert John “Mutt” Lange as either a writer or a producer. It’s safe to say that when Def Leppard unveiled the dark and lyrically introspective Slang in May 1996, it wasn’t what many people were expecting.
With Rick Allen playing an acoustic kit for the first time since his accident and the production gloss stripped back, there is an organic feel to many of the songs here and among them are some overlooked gems. ‘Truth?’ is edgy and brooding whilst album closer ‘Pearl Of Euphoria’ steadily builds and expands to an anthemic conclusion. They’re both excellent tracks that reveal a side of Def Leppard that previous albums barely hinted at.
The surprises on Slang come thick and fast; the Indian strings and percussion that permeate ‘Turn To Dust’, the laid back Rhythm and Blues groove that underpins ‘Breathe A Sigh’, the rhythmic, stomping title track with its nod to Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs and the blistering ‘Gift Of Flesh’ which is possibly the heaviest track the band has recorded.
This deluxe edition comes with a whopping 19 (count ‘em!) bonus tracks, that rounds up the non-album material from the various CD singles, plus early or alternate versions of every track on Slang which shows how some of the songs evolved from their original inception. And although it doesn’t really fit the feel of Slang, quite why Def Leppard have never recorded Vivian Campbell’s rather excellent ‘Move On Up’ – presented in demo form here – is anyone’s guess!
Slang stands alone in Def Leppard’s body of work and continues to divide opinion. It’s either the album where they lost the plot and “went grunge”, or it’s the album where the band had the bottle to try something different and poured their personal experiences into the music. Eighteen years on Slang stands up remarkably well and there’s enough bonus material here to satisfy Leppard fans like me who bought the album first time around. Well worth (re)discovering.
8 out of 10
- Turn to Dust
- All I Want Is Everything
- Work It Out
- Breathe A Sigh
- Deliver Me
- Gift of Flesh
- Blood Runs Cold
- Where Does Love Go When It Dies
- Pearl Of Euphoria
- Move With Me Slowly
- Truth? (Original Version)
- Burn Out
- Worlds Collide
- Can’t Keep Away From The Flame
- Turn to Dust (1st Draft)
- Raise Your Love
- All I Want Is Everything (1st Draft)
- Work It Out (1st Draft)
- Breathe A Sigh (Rough Mix)
- Deliver Me (Rough Mix)
- Black Train
- Blood Runs Cold (Rough Mix)
- Where Does Love Go When It Dies (1st Draft)
- Pearl Of Euphoria (Rough Mix)
- All On Your Touch (2012 Revisit)
- Anger (Deliver Me -1st Draft)
- Move On Up (Viv Demo)
- Gift Of Flesh (Phil Vocal)