Def Leppard – X (2002, Island Records)
1. “Now” … 3:58
2. “Unbelievable” … 3:58
3. “You’re So Beautiful” … 3:31
4. “Everyday” … 3:08
5. “Long Long Way To Go” … 4:38
6. “Four Letter Word” … 3:07
7. “Torn to Shreds” … 2:56
8. “Love Don’t Lie” … 4:46
9. “Gravity” … 2:33
10. “Cry” … 3:17
11. “Girl Like You” … 2:49
12. “Let Me Be the One” … 3:29
13. “Scar” … 4:59
Joe Elliott – lead vocals
Rick “Sav” Savage – bass guitar, vocals
Rick Allen – drums
Vivian Campbell – guitar, vocals
Phil Collen – guitar, vocals
Producer: Pete Woodroffe & Def Leppard
It’s been a long time coming but I finally sat down and gave this album another spin. I bought it as soon as it came out and probably gave it 4 or 5 spins before deciding it was a disappointing follow-up to Euphoria. 9 years later, I’m listening to it again. I would’ve actually checked it out (again) a few years earlier but I lost my copy and finally snagged another copy a year or two ago.
Euphoria was no slouch of an album. It’s their most recent album to go gold, “Promises” was a minor radio hit, the album was hailed as a return to form by fans & critics alike after the alternative leanings of Slang and the band was all over VH1 at the time enjoying the renewed popularity that many “eighties bands” were experiencing.
So why, then, did the band go in yet another direction by turning in their poppiest, softest-rocking album to date? Well, I guess the lure of the almighty dollar was just too much. Sure, they sold 500,000 copies of the last album but what about going double platinum like Bon Jovi did?
Obviously inspired by the success of Bon Jovi’s Crush and “It’s My Life”, Def Leppard recruited some of the very same songwriters that the boys from Jersey had partnered with on that 2000 release. Names like Max Martin, Andreas Carlsson and Wayne Hector were all over the place in the late ’90s/early ’00s as they wrote hits for a number of boy bands like Backstreet Boys and pop tarts like Britney Spears. The band was obviously content to just let the “hits” come to them as not a single member had a hand in writing “Unbelievable” or “Long Long Way to Go”!
It blew my mind at the time that Def Leppard was able to recover from the cold response for Slang by handing in Euphoria (one of their best albums, IMO) and then do another turnaround with X. I actually lost a bit of respect for the band at the time because it was such an obvious cash grab and phony attempt at staying relevant.
Nine years on, my judgment isn’t as clouded and I can look back and say there are a number of good tracks on this album despite a few tracks where the band tries to play the role of a boy band. Funny thing is, the songs I ended up liking most are on the first half of the album — the half that features lots of outside co-writing credits! Tracks 6-13 were all written by the band with only producer Pete Woodroffe stepping in to co-write a few songs.
The one song I instantly loved off this album was “Now”. To me, that is a classic Def Leppard sounding song and actually does sound like something to follow-up Euphoria with. “Scar” is another very good guitar-oriented song that rocks a bit harder than the rest and sounds close to something they might’ve done in the ’80s.
The album is full of mid-tempo numbers and ballads. It’s a complete pop album but I have a lot more respect for it now. It’s not a classic but it’s not bad at all and I upgrade it to “decent” and remove it’s previous status of “bland”. Maybe I’m going soft.
Highlights: “Now”, “Unbelievable”, “You’re So Beautiful”, “Everyday”, “Love Don’t Lie”, “Cry”, “Scar”