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Monday, January 24, 2005


There was a joke going arond back in the late eighties; "What has nine arms and sucks - Def Leppard". Well, there was a time when they had ten arms and were great. Briefly. The story of Def Leppard is as tragic as they come, and with respect to the family of the late Steve Clark, and Rick Allen's departed arm, for the most part, they became a symbol of all that was wrong with Hard Rock in the mid to late eighties. Over indulgence and greed took the place of integrity and balls. In 1981 Def Leppard released their second album, High N' Dry. It's exactly what a Hard Rock album should be, chock full of riffs and attitude, Gibsons and Marshalls, the good stuff. I played this record for Andy Rock about a year ago, and he took to it like a baby to tits. It amazes me that this classic record has become lost in the wash of time. "High N' Dry (Saturday Night)", "Let It Go", "Another Hit And Run", "You Got Me Runnin", and the breakout hit "Bringin' On The Heartache" are the highlights, but the whole album satisfies much the way contemporary releases like "Highway to Hell', "Blizard of Ozz", and "Brittish Steel" do. This is TRUEROCK, as Andy calls it, and I couldn't agree more. If you like your Rock served up with groove, melody, and a good amount of crunch, then put away 'Hysteria' and 'Pyromania' and slap this pup in the disc player, i-pod, or better yet, on your turnatable. Oh yeah, serve with beer.

This record is absolutely amazing. I just finshed reading the Guitar Player Mag special feature on AC/DC. Angus talked quite a bit about working with Mutt on the Highway to Hell record and about how it was the real turning point album for them, not Back In Black as most believe. I was so relieved to hear this because it's what I've always contended myself. The catalyst being Mutt's approach to recoarding in the "before he was corrupted" days. Angus talks at great length about how he cleaned up their song writing and production just enough to make their records more listenable without ruining the spirit of the band. If you listen to Powerage and then put on Highway To Hell you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Why am I talking about AC/DC on a post about the Leppards? Because High-N-Dry is amazingly similar to Highway To Hell in this sense. It's a great Mutt developement album which cleaned up Def Leppard's production and song writing without ruining the essence of what they wanted to be at the time. Andy Rock sure picked up on this. Although some would say that Bringin' on the Heartache was a shape of things to come, I'm more inclined to think that they included the track in an attempt to create a female crossover opportunity in order to get more chicks at their shows than a wholesale sellout attempt. Nonetheless, it is a great tune.

I don't know what went through Mutt's mind following this period of his career. I'd love to know. Perhaps there's a blogger out there that can fill us in. To go from making a couple of the greatest hard rock records of all time, to the over produced dreck of Pyromania baffles me. High-N-Dry will be moved from the shelf to the car tomorrow morning. Thanks for another good one Jackson.
Just to be clear, Powerage kicks major ass, and the production is great. Highway To Hell is certainly a turning point for both producton and songwriting, but listen to 'Down Payment Blues' and tell me it get's better than that.
Powerage does indeed kick major ass that is for sure, but in comparison, the production is harsh. You and I consider this an endearing quality that reflects the spirit of the band and it's music. Mutt's contribution in my opinion was to add accessibility to their music by cleaning the production up enough sonically to make it more even to new cross over listeners. He did a great job of this without selling them out by all accounts.

Compare On Through The Night and High-N-Dry and you hear the same result. It was apparent that a parting of ways with Mutt was in order by the time AC/DC began work on For Those About To Rock, which by the way, kicks major ass as well. As we know, Mutt went on to buy every known piece of studio production gear available on the open market atthe time and tried to use it all on every record subsequent. A shame really.

I’d love to know what he thinks of these three records (Highway, High-n-Dry, Back In Black) in retrospect…
I feel he did exactly the same for Shania. Rock on boys
Does anyone remember catching Def unplugged on VH1(?). Amazing how good some of the songs sounded played acoustically.
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