Here is a band that definitely has had its share of misfortune. In 1984 drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm following a New Year’s Eve ear crash. Then, last January, guitarist Steve Clark, to whom this record is dedicated, died at age 30, after years of chronic alcoholism. Nevertheless, these British rockers—singer Joe Elliott, guitarist Phil Collen, bass player Kick Savage and a one-armed Allen—soldier on. Loudly.
The fifth Leppard album in 12 years hits the usual spots with such stadium razers as “Tear It Down.” But the band has refined its crash-boom style as well. “Let’s Get Rocked” is a pure pop melody with a dash of funk flavoring. “Heaven Is” sounds like one of Bryan Adams’s earnest power ballads. Ironically, the album’s slowest song, “Tonight,” may be its most impressive.
In Clark’s absence, Collen does a pretty good job of handling the work of two guitarists, slamming enough sturdy rock riffs into songs like “Make Love Like a Man” and “Personal Properly” to keep the head-bangers appeased. (Guitarist Vivian Campbell has recently been added for the band’s upcoming tour.) The biggest change on this record may be the replacement of Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who has produced all the group’s previous hits. (Lange still cowrote all but one of the songs on Adrenalize.)
New producer Mike Shipley doesn’t have Lange’s heavy touch for symphonic metal. But on Adrenalize he adds his own embellishments by overdubbing Elliott’s voice until it sounds like a large chorus or by arranging an intricate intro for “White Lightning.”
With this LP, Def Leppard’s brand of rock—always rather formulaic—is a little more cheery, clean and delicate, though it lacks the volcanic power of their best work nearly a decade ago on High ‘n’ Dry and Pyromania. Still, Adrenalize is superior to Def Leppard’s last release, 1987’s Hysteria, and that one sold 14 million copies with the help of flashy videos and constant touring. So, maybe this is a band that knows how to make its own luck. (Mercury)