DEF LEPPARD’S PHIL COLLEN ON “SLANG”: “IT WAS [OUT OF] LEFT FIELD FOR US”

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defleppardb&w Gary Graff of Billboard reports:

Nearly 18 years later, the members of Def Leppard feel that 1996’s Slang didn’t get its just due — and are hoping to rectify that a bit with this week’s release of an expanded Deluxe Edition featuring demos, outtakes and alternative versions of the CD’s 11 songs.

It was an essential album for Def Leppard,” guitarist Phil Collen tells Billboard about Slang,” whose sound was markedly more raw and stripped-back than multi-platinum predecessors such as Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalize. “It was a drastic move, left-field for us. It was experimental. It went against the grain from what we normally were doing at the time. We felt like with ‘Adrenalize’ it started turning a little bit similar, so it was important to do something different at that point.”

Not everybody felt that way, of course. Though it debuted at Number 5 on the Billboard 200 (after No. 1 bows for 1987’s Hysteria and 1992’s Adrenalize) and went gold, Slang was Def Leppard’s slowest selling album in more than a decade, which Collen says was a source of great frustration.

“Y’know, I think we could’ve put out Sgt. Pepper’s or Dark Side of the Moon and I think it would have been the same because it was Def Leppard and we had gotten lumped in with all the crap metal bands of the 80s that were kind of pale versions of us,” Collen explains. “Nirvana had come along and everything had changed. What was very interesting was people said they didn’t like it so much because it didn’t sound like us, but we set up in a villa in southern Spain and pretty much recorded live, so it was actually closer to the mark than the other albums where we didn’t play live and did the usual studio thing of putting one thing on at a time and building it from there.”

Slang also marked the debut of new guitarist Vivian Campbell — who replaced the late Steve Clarke and wrote Slang’s first single, Work It Out — and was the first Def Leppard album made without producer Mutt Lange since 1980’s On Through the Night.

“Anyone who isn’t a Def Leppard fan, you play it to them and they love it,” Collen notes. “They go, ‘Wow, this is really cool. Who is it?’ ‘It’s us,’ and they go, ‘Whoaaaa. This is really cool.’ But, yeah, no one really heard it. There’s the faithful few who absolutely love it and think it’s the best Def Leppard album of all time, but it’s a minority.”

Collen says Def Leppard may play a few extra songs from Slang when it tours North America during the summer, and he’s also “hearing some talk” about another Las Vegas residency to follow up last year’s Viva! Hysteria shows at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Meanwhile, the group members recently assembled in Dublin, Ireland, for some preliminary work on Def Leppard’s next album, the first of new material since 2008’s “Songs From the Sparkle Lounge.”

“We’re just writing,” Collen says. “We’re all just together and figuring out what we’re gonna do. We’ve got some great ideas. We’re definitely going to get some new music out for next year.”

Read more at Billboard.

Listen to an audio sampler from Slang below.

defeppardslang630

source: billboard.com

45 thoughts on “DEF LEPPARD’S PHIL COLLEN ON “SLANG”: “IT WAS [OUT OF] LEFT FIELD FOR US”

  1. I always laugh when they whine about being “lumped in with all of the 80s crap bands”. They were a crap band from the 80s. I’m definetly in the minority, but Hysteria and Adrenelize are total fake garbage. And the lyrics are crap too, with fake sounding vocals. If this is supposed to be a more real album, I may pick it up, because judging by their earlier work, there is talent there.

    Oh, and Mutt Lange is overrated. πŸ˜€

    1. Lange also produced AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and Back In Black, which continues to sell copies and chart even to this day, just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

      Cheers,
      Dana from EddieTrnk.com πŸ™‚

  2. FOR GOD SAKES PUT A DAMN SHIRT ON. YOU’ RE 50+ YEARS OLD. GOOD FOR YOU! YOU DO CRUNCHES AND SIT UPS. IF IT’S HOT ON THE STAGE, WEAR DRY FIT. NOBODY WANTS TO SEE A SHIRTLESS MAN ON STAGE. CUT THE NONSENSE. CAMPBELL LOOKS COMFORTABLE IN HIS VEST. STOP IT. IT IS FEBRUARY AND WE DON’T NEED TO LOOK AT A SHIRTLESS OLD ENGLISH GUY.

    1. Richman,

      That is older picture and was probably taken when the climate was warmer, relax…LOL! As a woman, I can appreciate all of Phil Collen’s hard work, very admirable πŸ˜‰

      Cheers!
      Dana from EddieTrunk.com πŸ™‚

      1. Sorry, he is certainly a competent musician with an impressive resume and he consumes tons of lettuce but his shirtlessness ( a rarely used word ) as you are well aware is notorious on this website. Thanks for the smiles. I’m gonna take in HIGH N DRY for the morning commute tommorow. Historically that album holds up the strongest because it never got played on Z-100 or WPLJ. I don’t think he has ever been married because he would have to wear an undershirt, a dress shirt and a suit jacket. I doubt he would be able to do that.

  3. Count me in the minority…I really loved Slang,. While I can leave the 3 ballads (they shoot themselves in the foot with too many slow/sappy ones), the rockin’ tunes are damn good. Tracks 1 & 2 (Truth/Turn To Dust) are two of my all time favs, but were rarely played live (if ever) which baffles me. Deliver Me and Gift of Flesh are also good, and I always loved that first single, Work It Out.

    I initially did not like the title track, but it has grown on me and is quite catchy. The closer, Pearl of Euphoria, is simply Epic. It needs to be played at full volume with a great set of headphones.

    It is definitely time Slang got more attention.

  4. Man, I would not say that Mutt Lange is overrated. Everything he produces sells. I am a Leppard fan and I’ve always liked Slang. “Blood Runs Cold” and “Breathe a Sigh” are particular favorites. Remember the mid-’90’s were a weird time for bands like Leppard.

    1. Doug, I agree with you 100%. I know people in the business (recording engineers, producers, etc.) and Mutt is highly respected amongst his peers.

      Sorry to say, and this is just my opinion, but I think Rick Rubin is highly overrated.

      Cheers,
      Dana from EddieTrunk.com πŸ™‚

  5. I really think that SLANG is one of those albums that it literally takes 15-20 years after its release to appreciate it. At the time of its release in 1996, it was out of its realm with the music that DL is used to releasing… though it stylistically, it fit with the sign of the times.
    However, it was too big of a departure for DL at the time. I can rationalize with the release coming off the release of Adreanalize that wanting to mature themselves in the music, and theoretically considering it was released after RETROACTIVE (which had a lot of rawer Hysteria leftover tracks), the band thought it would take – but it was too much of a departure for the fan base.

    Though it might have fared better had it been released after the consecutive releases of EUPHORIA, X and SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE…and could’ve been more successful than it was. Although it was not a complete flop for DL, it was a struggle release that alienated a lot of fans up through ADRENALIZE/RETROACTIVE……

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