DEF LEPPARD Pyromania (Vertigo)

I try to be open-minded about all the albums I review. After all, I’ve paid for them, so it would be downright perverse not to at least try to derive some enjoyment from them. So, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Guns N’ Roses and Van Halen, and I’ve learned to respect AC/DC and Metallica. Here, however, I can sense a line being drawn.

Well, I suppose we all know what Def Leppard sound like, but how to describe it? To me, their sound is like Thin Lizzy’s, after all that band’s mischievous, glint-eyed charm has been distilled off, with lashings of synth gloss (courtesy here of Thomas Dolby and John Kongos, of all people) smeared over the resulting glop, the whole rendered even more charmless by Joe Elliott’s hoarse, helium-throated howl. Don’t forget their, uh, uncomplicated view of interpersonal relations, which reaches its nadir on porn apology “Action! Not Words”, and the way they use the words ‘rock’ and ‘shock’ when, like naughty schoolboys, they seem to have an entirely different verb in mind. And that fake live intro to “Stagefright” is just nasty. I’ve dutifully tried to find something to like about this album, and the closest I get to enjoying any of it is the proto-industrial coda that drags along behind “Billy’s Got A Gun”, mainly because it seems to have wandered in from another, far more interesting, album entirely.

Being part of Universal’s Back To Black reissue series this 180 gram vinyl pressing of “Pyromania” is almost obligated to sound disappointing, and, in that regard at least, it meets expectations. It’s fine if you just want to skate along the surface of the music, but no good at all at generating a sense of listener involvement. Although, given the music involved, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.