DEF LEPPARD – Songs From the Sparkle Lounge [Japan SHM-CD new remaster / Limited Release] (2023) *HQ*
Few days ago Universal Music Japan started a new reissue campaign of DEF LEPPARD albums pressed on SHM-CD, a Limited Edition release on miniLP reproducing the album first edition LP in miniature and the original Japanese OBI. These differ from the previous (now sold out) SHM-CD reissues, as features a new remastering.
For their tenth studio album 2006’s “Songs From The Sparkle Lounge”, Def Leppard sound kind of lies somewhere in between the last 3 records the band had released at that point. It has elements of “Euphoria”, “X” and the covers record “Yeah!”. One thing noticeable right off the bat is they have went from the slick and ultra-glossy production they have been known for and went back to a more organic and in your face rocking delivery – and it’s refreshing.
The album opens with “Go” and the song has a strong ”Slang” record feel with its heavy and contemporary sound. The band throws everyone for a loop by bringing in country superstar Tim McGraw to guest on vocals for the first single “Nine Lives” and it works amazingly well. The band doesn’t try going country with their sound at all. The song is still very Leppard sounding and shows McGraw can fit in the rock mold just fine.
“C’mon C’mon” brings the band back to more straight-ahead classic rock sound and just to make sure you’re paying attention I’ll say it sounds like something the Swiss band Gotthard did with the song “Lift “U” Up” from their 2005 “Lipservice” album.
“Love” brings the ballad of the record to light and it’s a little different sounding from the typical Leppard ballad. The song actually reminds me of Queen’s “Love Of My Life” for some strange reason. Perhaps it’s the arrangement or the orchestration or maybe the backing vocals or most likely a combination of all three!
“Tomorrow” has something of a “Euphoria” album feel to it, the guitar solo reminds me of something you’d hear on a 2000’s Bon Jovi record also. Again the song is nothing original but has a “vintage” Lepp sound at least.
“Cruise Control” brings the sound of the “Slang” record back with its modern feel but maybe just a slight bit more melodic and accessible in nature.
“Hallucinate” continues with the new-found straight ahead rock sound of DEF LEPPARD and I guess it just shows by this point how much the band must have been influenced with their previous covers record “Yeah!”. “Only The Good Die Young” has somewhat of a Beatles touch in the beginning and has one of the more memorable choruses (along with “Nine Lives”) of the album. Kudos is also to be given for the melodic (but short) guitar solo.
The band continues with its straight-ahead “rock-n-roll” approach with “Bad Actress”. The song sounds like it’s some long-lost leftover classic rock cover from the “Yeah!” album. It’s a different original sound then heard from the band in a while and if anything is something I could have heard from them in their earlier days.
“Come Undone” and “Gotta Let It Go” close out the album and have a similar vibe with the former perhaps being a bit more melodic in its approach.
“Songs From The Sparkle Lounge” is a quite varied album, but the bulk of the songs sound almost like a reaction against the longer, polished and more intense ‘X’ record. Short, simple and instantly catchy are all fair comments. The playing and execution of the album is and the production is refreshing (from a usually over-produced DEF LEPPARD standpoint that is).
ＵＮＩＶＥＲＳＡＬ ＭＵＳＩＣ ＪＡＰＡＮ / ＵＩＣＹ～80353
Ｄ Ｅ Ｆ Ｌ Ｅ Ｐ Ｐ Ａ Ｒ Ｄ ２０２３
01 – Go
02 – Nine Lives
03 – C’mon C’mon
04 – Love
05 – Tomorrow
06 – Cruise Control
07 – Hallucinate
08 – Only the Good Die Young
09 – Bad Actress
10 – Come Undone
11 – Gotta Let It Go
Joe Elliott – vocals
Rick Savage – bass guitar, backing vocals, additional guitars
Rick Allen – drums, backing vocals
Phil Collen – guitars, backing vocals
Vivian Campbell – guitars, backing vocals