• Hank Melluish

Def Leppard: Then and Now

Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla is what you’re thinking. Def Leppard is who this dude grew up on? To that I respond with “I’ll thank you to hold your tongue and let me tell this story. Much appreciated.” So, Def Leppard was a late sort of obsession in my childhood. The summer after middle-school. For much of my youth, I’d listened only to what my parents did, as many kids do, but in my case that wasn’t a bad thing. They had pretty great taste! A lot of 60’s Soul, 70’s Punk, Surf Rock, British Invasion, Springsteen, and both Elvises played in the house, as well as a myriad of other CDs they had in their arsenal. That was much of what we listened to. And that was fine.

Then a couple of things happened. First and foremost, my parents had another baby by the name of “SiriusXM Radio”. I had never seen such a thing! The songs showed up on the radio and you could listen to whatever and whenever you wanted! There were so many different musical genres out there I had no idea about, and they were talked about with such passion by the DJs! I believe my father got it as a gift from work, so remind me to ask, and perhaps thank Kellogg for opening my eyes. So I was able to find new music on a daily basis--though by new music, what I mean is the hits of the 1980s. 80s On 8 was my station. Again, hold your tongue. From there, I found Def Leppard. “Photograph” came first, and then all of their Hysteria output… their Vault compilation at the library... and from there it was all downhill.

That’s where our story begins.

Years earlier, my brother and I had been furious at the younger one for “ruining The Beatles.” All this kid played was The Beatles. You wouldn’t believe it. You know there’s a Magical Mystery Tour movie? I wish I didn’t. Regardless, my point is that I went and did the exact same thing with Def Leppard. Morning, noon and night. I had a t-shirt I wore to school. I changed the cover art for every song in iTunes to the art of its corresponding single--and most egregiously, after receiving a copy of Euphoria (their 1999 pop outing) for Christmas, I made it my de facto favorite just because it was no one else’s.

See, by all accounts, Euphoria is a dog’s dinner. It’s not a remotely good album. Def Leppard lost the plot in many people’s eyes, and while no one thinks it’s their worst, it’s by no means a keeper. But I loved it at the time, and with heavy heart, I love it now. It was the album of my early high-school experience. Now, nostalgia is a thick pair of specs, so it