Def Leppard
On Through the Night


3.0
good

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
December 22nd, 2008 | 29 replies


Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This grower of a full-length debut foreshadows Def Leppard’s potential with a heavy & hooky sound that predominantly overcomes the usual deficiencies of such a young band’s first album.

Towards the tail end of the 1970s, a movement known as the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ began to emerge from the ashes of more traditional metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Displaying a faster and grittier sound, the genre was also characterized by its middle-class common-man image. It was this latter trait which partially played a part in making Def Leppard one of the leaders of the movement (alongside Iron Maiden and Judas Priest), especially since they had shown such a Do-It-Yourself ethic in releasing their 3 track debut EP in January of 1979.

The relative success of that self-titled E.P led to Def Leppard swiftly signing with major labels that would release their first full-length on both sides of the Atlantic. Come March of 1980, that all became reality when ‘On Through The Night’ was released to the masses, promptly breaking into the U.K top 20 on the back of three sub 4 minute rapid-fire rockers which were released as singles.

To a certain extent, the opening ‘Rock Brigade’ lays the foundations for the album very well, since it fits an incredible amount into its 3:09 duration. Dominated by a distinctive and very effective guitar riff, a short solo is also included. Furthermore, Def Leppard showed an enormous skill for harmonies here with a simple, yet oh so successful, backing vocal in its chorus. Later, ‘Wasted’ is a similar rapid-fire rocker which contains a grittier persona. Conversely, track 2 ‘Hello America’ greets with highly glossed over (almost Beach Boy-like) vocals which are clearly aimed at a more worldwide mainstream audience and suggest where this Sheffield quintet’s ambition would eventually lead them.

It is that ambition however, which even at their young ages, would never allow Def Leppard to be tunnel-visioned. There is more than a sufficient amount of variety sprinkled throughout ‘On Through The Night’, even if not all of it is necessarily successful. One of the better examples is the interestingly structured ‘Sorrow Is A Woman’, a predominantly slower cut that also includes a terrifically rousing solo that is nicely built up on the back of Rick Savage’s excellent bass lines. Also effective is the driving Glam-Metal stomp (complete with echo’ey vocal hook) of ‘It Could Be You’.

One example where the band’s ambition proves their undoing is the mish-mash that is the overlong ‘Satellite’. To some degree, the production of this album does not quite match the band’s ambitious ideas. Since it tries to blend differing musical styles, ‘Satellite’ could have been decent with improved production work, while the strange sci-fi like ‘When the Walls Came Tumbling Down’ is a better idea on paper than in practice circa 1980.

Of course, the production skills apparent here are a darn sight better than on the previous year’s E.P, which makes the inclusion of two re-recorded tracks more than worthwhile. The fantastic guitar lines thrown about on ‘Rocks Off’ (originally titled ‘Getcha Rocks Off’) make it one of this album’s highlights, especially since the superior production makes the rhythm section of Savage and new teenage drummer Rick Allen shine during an instrumental portion that reaches a climax with an excellent solo. The near 8 minute ‘Overture’ then replays the closer role to similar positive effect as it did so well on the E.P.

No matter what one may conclude about ‘On Through The Night’, it is definitely an album which foreshadowed the potential of Def Leppard. Showing maturity and a musical nous that was well beyond their teenage years, the band crafted a heavy, yet hooky, sound which paved the way for many a successful band throughout the 1980s. ‘On Through The Night’ can be categorized as a grower of an album since the more superficial elements that would appeal to the mainstream will initially distract some listeners from what is actually an incredibly tight musical and vocal performance. Any deficiencies (production, some filler, etc…) are to be expected on such a young band’s debut.

Recommended Tracks: Rock Brigade, Rocks Off & Sorrow Is A Woman.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This will most likely be my final review of 2008... Work is a b!tch right now.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


WASTED!

AtavanHalen
December 22nd 2008


17927 Comments


This will most likely be my final review of 2008... Work is a bitch right now.

I simply cannot fathom how you can do THIS all the time AND keep a steady job.
Your work must be like "Champ Kind! You're not writing reviews again, are you?"
"Noooo, sir"
"...good"
(back turns, Champ Kind devilishly returns to reviews)
Anyway, review a Christmas album.


DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Holy $hit DavID, have you got a camera at my workplace?
And I'm not reviewing a Christmas album... Because Def Leppard have not released one!


PunkItUp
December 22nd 2008


207 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

wow you listened to two def leppard records in a row. above and beyond the call of doody

heroic and desperate action to be sure

AtavanHalen
December 22nd 2008


17927 Comments


use an instant messenger plz you are just spamming nwo

Joke poster actually has point =0
Add me on Messenger or Facebook, Champ Kind.

magictikkleCwicked
December 22nd 2008


272 Comments


Thats possibly the worst album cover I've ever come across.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Another day and another person calling me "heroic". Quite commonplace for me, but I think that's the first time on Sputnik.
Oh come on, a big truck is needed to carry a big guitar. And you should see the truck for the drum kit.
DavID, I'm not on facebook and hardly use Messenger. But I'll humour you on the latter if you were to pass on your IM Address...

AtavanHalen
December 22nd 2008


17927 Comments


(I write email addresses not tragedies)This Message Edited On 12.22.08

McP3000
December 22nd 2008


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

this album is pretty much one of the crappiest things ive ever heard

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^^^ You are a harsh man Harrison Ford.

Fugue
December 22nd 2008


7353 Comments


Good review, you make this album sound pretty good, not that I can comment on whether it is or not.

Jim
December 22nd 2008


5110 Comments


New Wave of British Heavy Metal is why pretentious music whores shouldn't name genres
another great review, davey. i'm thinking about jumping back into the reviewing caper myself. i just bought a nice laptop and i have more time to fu[font=verdana]ck[/font] around now

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ta Ross. Looking back over the review, it actually comes as a little too positive, if anything. To me, this album is no higher than a 3.5 rating and even that's being kind.
I'm with you on the name of the genre Jim. Thanks for the positive feedback on the review. Sputnik will be all the better for having your reviewing talent back, if you decide to jump back into the caper. I still recall your Powderfinger reviews and that terrific Wolfmother one where you listed 4 bands that they did NOT sound like (& The Wiggles was one)... LOL!

Jim
December 22nd 2008


5110 Comments


whoa man you were around then? you old dog you

Spamue1G
December 22nd 2008


1292 Comments


Great review, as per usual. I'm still hesitant about looking into these guys (I know I said I'd get High 'n' Dry, but I'm ever so slightly put off by some of the comments here :S And the album cover for this really is crap.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well Jim, I wasn't writing or even a member, but I was a reader when you were writing some of those reviews. I think a lot of reviewers here sometimes forget that people can come to this website to read reviews without even being a member, let alone contribute anything.
Thanks Spamue1. There is only one way to find out mate. From memory, your tastes lie on the heavier side, so I would definitely recommend either Pyromania or High 'N' Dry.

robin
Emeritus
December 22nd 2008


4249 Comments


dave, good review, but i hope the next discography you're going for is the one i'm thinking it is. ;)

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 22nd 2008


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

No Robin, despite your admirable persistence, I will NOT be reviewing the entire Celine Dion discography! ;-)

Willie
Moderator
December 22nd 2008


16051 Comments


This will most likely be my final review of 2008... Work is a b!tch right now.
But, not the last thing you're contributing to the site before the end of the year; right? ;)

I remember there being one or two tolerable songs on this, but nothing exciting. This has been in bargain bins longer than most the people on this site have been alive.
No Robin, despite your admirable persistence, I will NOT be reviewing the entire Celine Dion discography! ;-)
One of her albums actually is pretty good.This Message Edited On 12.22.08



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