I hate to bring you this news, but these guys.. they just don't cut the mustard anymore.
Sure they were kings of Arena Rock back in 1988, and the previous year they had released somewhat of a "Hard Rock Thriller" album with "Hysteria,"... and they even managed a bit of a comeback when VH1 did their "Behind The Music" in 1997, which was quickly followed up with made-for-T.V. movie (also on VH1) about their early trials and tribulations coming up in the U.K. music scene in the late 70s. Since then, even as much of a joke as they may have been to you or me or anyone else, they've been able to ride a wave comprised of a devoted fan-base and State (and County) Fair gigs all the way to the bank.
But today, they've gone too far. Today saw the release of possibly their worst, most dated and lifeless album to date.
"Songs From The Sparkle Lounge" basically sucks.
It's pretty aptly titled, though, as "The Sparkle Lounge" certainly sounds like no place I'd ever want to visit or hang out or even enter to go see a show. So maybe they're just being honest. But in actuality... "In an interview with Billboard.com, [lead singer] Joe Elliott stated that the album title is a reference to an area backstage of gigs, where the band would work on new material. 'It was a mini (drum) kit, mini amps, a tape recorder and sparkly lights'." (Wikipedia)
Upon first glance at the track listing, I wondered "Are these guys making a SECOND covers album in a row?" because I noticed song titles like "Go" (which reminded me of, say, the recent Common release, featuring John Mayer, or possibly some old school Pearl Jam?), "Nine Lives" (like Aerosmith did 11 years ago), and... can you beat this? "Only The Good Die Young" (Billy Joel, anyone?)
But no - this is not another covers album. These are all totally original (yet cliche) tracks. Their last release however, 2006's "YEAH!", found the Lep' powerfully covering 14 tracks of their favorite grooves from yesteryear, and it seemed a worthy attempt at the contents of my wallet - albeit, a failed attempt. But 2002's "X" was a decent enough album, and I recall enjoying almost every song on it. So what happened?
I was surprised to read that lead singer Joe Elliot claims that this album's sound is reminiscent of "'early 70's AC/DC' and much like Led Zeppelin's song Rock and Roll." (Wikipedia)
I gotta call B.S. on that. No, it doesn't sound like AC/DC or Zeppelin. It's mostly boring cheese rock. You'd have to be 9 or 10 years old and JUST NOW discovering rock music to enjoy this album to any great extent. It's not that the musicianship is bad or the production is less than adequate. The songs are just boring, and the lyrics are cliche, meaningless and uninteresting. And, apparently, über-producer Mutt Lange (who is responsible for some of the band's greatest hits, as well as those of AC/DC, Bryan Adams, and Shania Twain) was supposed to collaborate on a few tracks here - for the first time in 16 years with Def Leppard - but for some reason it never came to fruition. Quite a shame!
If you want the best of this album, just download one song - track 10: "Come Undone" (not a cover of The Guess Who or Duran Duran, mind you). This is the only song that really stood out, and keeps that old flavor from the 80s and 90s in their awesome power chorus. But I also enjoyed the final track, "Gotta Let It Go", a bit as well. Maybe... just steal that one.
If you're a really die-hard Def Leppard fan, (though I happen to know that none of my readers are,) you might enjoy this on some other level. But for the masses, this is a MUST SKIP album.
ONE STAR, guys. One measly, little star.