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Def Leppard - High 'N' Dry review


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Band: Def Leppard
Album: High 'N' Dry
Style: New wave of British heavy metal
Release date: 1981

01. Let It Go
02. Another Hit And Run
03. High 'n' Dry (Saturday Night)
04. Bringin' On The Heartbreak
05. Switch 625
06. You Got Me Runnin'
07. Lady Strange
08. On Through The Night
09. Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)
10. No No No
11. Bringin' On The Heartbreak [remix]
12. Me & My Wine [remix]

The good times before the big times.

Before being launched into the stratosphere by the rocket that was Pyromania, Def Leppard were a band picking up some decent speed; after the so-so debut record On Through The Night, the lads from Sheffield sketched out what was to be the sonic blueprint that would take them to the stars. High 'N' Dry may not be the complete package compared to what would come next, but in retrospect it was a flashing warning sign that this was a band building to something big; while the album may not hit the heights they would go on to, it is by no means something to take lightly.

High 'N' Dry will be an album that fans who are likely to have discovered the band with their successive work will enjoy; while the album isn't as colourful or as vibrant as Def Leppard would become, it is much the same if not as immediately noticeable. With Mutt Lange behind the desk and the band's guitar-driven pop rock improving with time, Def Leppard's meteoric rise started here.

While the riff will evoke thoughts of "Smoke On The Water", "High 'N' Dry (Saturday Night)" is a good rocker that will get you up on your feet and singing along like any classic rocker does. Speaking of songs that will remind you of other tracks, "You Got Me Runnin'" cuts too close to "Hey You" by Thin Lizzy for my taste; while it's not outright plagiarism, it does come off as the weaker of the two, thus rendering itself redundant to anyone with access to the Thin Lizzy version.

"Bringin' On The Heartbreak" is the song you will likely know from the album; it's strange to think that had the band not gone on to produce any more records, then this song would be the band's biggest and best known track. As it is, I find the song to be one of two halves: dull verses and solo, but featuring one hell of a build into a chorus, and the chorus itself is undeniably infectious. A song that deserves its place in the band's history, but not the flawless track that it has been labelled as.

Underrated classics would include the meandering instrumental guitar workout that is "Switch 625"; Clark's guitar is given the perfect tone by Lange to create the mental image of bright vibrant colours as you are led through a piece where Clark just allows the notes to peel off his six string and straight into your sub-conscious. "Lady Strange" and "Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)" are straight down the middle rockers that work well and build around a good rhythm and solo that has enough power to get you to sit up and take notice, rather than sit back and passively listen.

The rest of the album plays out well, though is often let down by song writing that just isn't quite there yet; it's good but it's not unique just yet. Def Leppard hadn't made that sonic leap quite yet with High 'N' Dry to consistently produce top grade material, though they were able to on occasion here. The album is still strong no doubt, with tracks like "On Through The Night" featuring some great guitar work and "Let It Go" being an upbeat bouncer, it's just missing a few things here and there to complete them.

The band are on fine form here, sounding youthful and energetic here before trading this in on subsequent releases for the polish and sheen Mutt Lange would give them. While the songs may not quite be the full articles, it's not for a lack of talent on the band's part. High 'N' Dry ultimately served to be the swansong for Willis, but he left with his head held high musically, holding his own with Clarke on the six string and both pushing each other to the benefit of the listener. Allen's drumming is a hidden gem here, using little unorthodox fills here and there that will catch your ear and give the song a sense of dynamism that adds that extra flavour; see "Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes" and "No No No" as examples. Elliot's voice is a bit more raw here and not the polished article just yet, adding character and a rougher edge to the material that works well.

Aside from material that isn't as strong as it could be and the aforementioned similarities to other bands, there is nothing inherently bad with High 'N' Dry. A strong record for sure, and one worth checking out if you are already acquainted with Pyromania and Hysteria, while the band would struggle to follow those records well, they certainly preceded them in fine fashion.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written on 17.08.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 13 users
18.08.2020 - 11:34
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
I like intro part, this is as band is this ep and first full lenght are best, rest is bigger but pop. I dont like anything after this
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