Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

March 15, 2013

Def Leppard ~ Vault: Greatest Hits (hits comp)

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Style: hard rock, NWOBHM, British
Label: Mercury
Year: 1995
Home: England

Members: Joe Elliott ~ vocals/rhythm guitar/keyboards
Steve Clark, Phil Collen, Vivian Campbell ~ guitars/b. vocals
Rick Savage ~ bass/keyboards/b. vocals
Rick Allen ~ drums/b. vocals
Pete Willis ~ rhythm guitar

Additional: Robert John "Mutt" Lange, John Sykes ~ backing vocals
Booker T. Boffin "Thomas Dolby" ~ keyboards

In my mind this is all you'll ever need of DL. This is not to say DL didn't make good albums, they did, but for the casual fan this might be a better buy than all the individual albums. While the albums that came after this collection are not bad, even including the interesting covers album Yeah! & the stripped down non-Mutt Lange produced but poorly titled Slang, but I've always felt DL has suffered a personality crisis to the present day where the songs don't live up to past glories. The collection marks the end of the road. Maybe they knew it at the time & this was one last moment to cash in their chips before the value went down. Will there ever come a second updated hits collection? Perhaps, but it'll be as welcomed as Madonna's follow-up to The Immaculate Collection was ... not much. Anyone wanting to know what made DL big will have here all they need to understand that variable. It goes from their earliest chart hit "Bringin' On The Heartbreak", a favorite of mine, to their last important chart peak of the 90's before grunge swept the scene away & they began their personality crisis, got old & became a cult band more interesting for continuing than what they are creating. I remember growing up two neighbor brothers around my age that I played with all the time were big fans of DL. Posters in their room & it seemed like it was all talk of sex & DL. Neither of which I knew anything about & it's only later those then popular Vanilla Ice & Fat Boys lyrics made sense. My musical ears were tuned elsewhere & it wouldn't be until I was later actively watching MTV & enjoyed "Pour Some Sugar On Me" that I began to take notice & pay more attention to who DL were. I've always waffled, though, on if DL do hair metal better, different than their peers or just more interestingly & if any of that is a fluke or talent. Or, because of my neighbor connection, am I biased to like them & they're really no different, but just with a better producer? While today do they still hold up quality-wise or have their songs ended up sounding more cliche than not? I do know the boys are men now & their current music, let alone image, is more abhorrent than not for me, more lacking energy than anything, & someone's voice sounds shot to me. Chart-topping hits are interesting in the music business as a hit isn't necessarily a song that lasts or holds up beyond the moment. Somethign can be popular because of who does it more so than it being good on it's own. I don't think I can answer any of the above questions to my or your satisfaction, so I'll let you listen & get back to me with your always welcomed comments. But, in your research don't worry, this isn't a band like Slaughter who had only three hits but a dozen or so tracks on their greatest hits album. These are all certified best of according to MTV plays & more than just fan favorites. But, I will hazard to say that I do think DL were a bit overly slick & polished & some of their comical lyrics do sound a bit too corny & the song too polished in retrospect ... or maybe it always really was ... or maybe the whole scene was & thankfully the description of raw has come to be a label used on more than just blues music. DL were hailed as part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, but I've always seen them as more pop than like peers Judas Priest, so I hestitate to label them as that. Though, their roots are in the 70's, just a few years shy of Van Halen, so they were there in the scene. Plus, I see them as more hard rock then heavy metal as they don't have the bite to me of real metal, or if they did grew out of it. When it comes to hits collection this has them all & I thoroughly enjoyed them then & now ... that I will say. The songs might be overly polished or corny (i.e. "Armageddon It") but I enjoy them & that's what matters. Though, this collection doesn't have much, if anything at all, to offer the long-term fans who have all the albums. They haven't added any non-hits but obscure favorites, nor have they added any unreleased material, nor demos, nor anything to make the target audience anyone but new faces. While there's nothing here from their debut On Through The Night, that might have given them attention as an up & coming British band with working class roots but had no chart hits. This collection isn't a retrospect, though it's close as it starts with "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" from their second album & continues to include songs right up until the time this collection was released. Only the lack of a debut album Billboard hit stops this from being a retrospective, which is sad on some level. Thus, this album doesn't pull any punches but gives you what the title says & that's it. Maybe I might remove of the seventeen songs "Can't Keep Away From The Flame" & the overly-syrupy "When Love & Hate Collide", but it's a trivial subtraction for what is otherwise a strong collection. "Rock! Rock! (Until you Drop)" is a bit too much AC/DC-ish across the board & I'd kill too ... or give it to another band, like AC/DC, to make a real hit out of. So often a greatest hits collection leaves some fans wondering. This almost leaves one wanting more. Or, at least I feel that way. The album is not chronological, but for some that might be trivial as their music never varied too much to make this sound like a disjointed affair with the meandering timeline. This is anthem music for large crowds & never was meant as anything but. The only real problem is it comes as a two CD set with the second volume featuring nine live tracks of the hits ... again, only the hits & nothing more. While some of the guitar solos are longer & more interesting, the recording quality is good, the songs longer, it's not essential & for a casual fan the studio versions are enough & already on the main album. The live versions aren't different enough for the non-casual fan. Personally I would have liked to have heard some obscure tracks down live, or just dump the second bonus CD altogether.

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