Def Leppard
High 'n' Dry


3.5
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
January 3rd, 2009 | 64 replies | 13,181 views


Release Date: 1981 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Young Sheffield quintet hire AC/DC’s producer and deliver an assured, if not entirely successful, 2nd album that shapes the future sound of one of Hard Rock’s most successful bands ever.

Confidence can be an enormously positive factor for a band, especially for one that is still up & coming and so young. At an average age of just 20 and approaching their second full-length release, it is apparent that the uncertain ambition of Def Leppard’s debut ‘On Through The Night’ has given way to a much more assured outfit on ‘High n Dry’. One need only look at the running times and eventual quality of the first 2 tracks to realize this.

Greeting its audience with a distinctive guitar riff, lead single and album opener ‘Let It Go’ makes excellent use of its 4:43 duration. Its main hook is the simple, but oh so successful, backing vocal dominated chorus of “Let it Rock… Let it Roll… Let it Go”, which reminds of AC/DC both in content and sound. However, the extra duration allows Def Leppard to build on their compositions, with this cut including a strangely effective breakdown that contains over-programmed vocals that lead into a rousing solo. The 5 minute ‘Another Hit and Run’ which follows is not too dissimilar and is solid without fully capitalizing on its potential.

For the most part, the first side of this album is above-average and contains good variety. The title track (sub-titled ‘Saturday Night’) is a shorter and dirtier old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll drinking song which is sure to appeal to original fans of the band. Meanwhile, ‘Switch 625’ is a mini-revelation being a 3 minute instrumental that is subtly effective in both its placement and quality. Without being anything too technically outstanding, its driving momentum and gradual build-up gives the impression of being a passenger in a Formula 1 racing car for a lap.

While the second side of ‘High n Dry’ is less inspiring than the first and is unfortunately not as well served by lengthier tracks, everything is decent enough. ‘You Got Me Runnin’, ‘Lady Strange’, ‘On Through The Night’ and closer ‘No No No’ are all lifted to differing degrees by another of this album’s strengths; the addition of producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Having previously worked on AC/DCs ‘Highway To Hell’ and ‘Back In Black’, Lange has polished up the guitars, drums and vocals nice and shiny. While that kind of production does remove some of the grittier edges that made earlier cuts work, this quartet ultimately isn’t as strong and practically begs for these slicker touches.

That leaves two tracks still to be mentioned… While ‘Let It Go’ may have seemed like the obvious lead single circa 1981, it is these other two tracks which not only make this album such a success, but also shapes Def Leppard’s future. Occupying the slower end of the spectrum, track 4 ‘Bringin On The Heartbreak’ played an under-rated role in the growth of popularity that was the (eventually over-used) hard-rock/hair-metal ballad. Beginning with atmospheric guitar and vocals in the verses and then building up brilliantly to the superbly mixed and produced sing-along chorus, ‘… Heartbreak’ is simply a timeless tune that has aged very well.

However, possibly more telling for the band’s future is penultimate track ‘Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)’. With six words sung by the band’s guitarists - “Take A Look Into My Eyes” – Def Leppard’s future sound would become apparent. This perfectly produced backing vocal hook combines successfully with Joe Elliott’s raspier dueling vocals to possibly provide the most overlooked chorus of the band’s career.

Ultimately, while ‘High n Dry’ cannot claim to be a resounding success as an individual album, it is indeed one from a progression standpoint. Def Leppard is clearly a more confident outfit here and with help from new producer “Mutt” Lange, they allow their compositions to include greater scope in order for the band to find their sound. While this does result in some misses, they are never too far off target and are more than made up for by the album’s highlights which have aged extremely well.

Recommended Tracks: Bringin’ On The Heartbreak, Mirror Mirror (Look Into My Eyes), Let It Go & Switch 625.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My first review of 2009 just had to be a Def Leppard one.

charlesfishowitz
January 3rd 2009



1794 Comments


just had to be

Jim
January 3rd 2009



5110 Comments


another goody. time to start thinking of review 100...

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh it did Charles.
Ta Jim. And yeah, I guess I better at least start thinking about what will be review #100. I wouldn't want it to be something $hithouse.

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2009



10239 Comments


mmm, 80s metal. it's been too long

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Douchebag
January 3rd 2009



3624 Comments


good review. thanks to you Daveyboy im now listening to pyromania.

"Photoograph!! (I don't need your)"

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Alligator. I'm not "foolin", you should "Rock Rock (Till You Drop)".

Spamue1G
January 3rd 2009



1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well... It's no classic, but who needs classic material when you can have so much fun listening to it anyway?
DaveyBoy - I thought you would have passed the 100th review by now... Review a classic, or near-classic at least, that's always the way to go I probably don't need to mention this review's great stuff, but the conclusion deserves special mention this time.

robin
Emeritus
January 3rd 2009



4241 Comments


their album art is consistently funny. :p nice stuff

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well said Spamue1. The first 3 songs are especially fun, while my 2 highlight tracks aren't even within those 3 tracks. Are you with me on my thoughts regarding 'Mirror Mirror' being important for their future sound or is it a long bow I am drawing on that suggestion...???
Thanks for the comments on the conclusion too as I was fairly selective regarding the words I used during it.
Nah, I've still got a way to go until #100. I think you might be right... It should be reserved for a 4.5 or 5 rating.
Robin, I've never really thought about their album art deeply, but whether they are funny, stupid or otherwise, it must be said that pretty much allof their album covers get easily noticed in stores. So to that effect, I suppose they are effective. Personally, I think this album cover is one of their weakest.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

... And can you believe that Radiohead blatantly stole the title of this album for one of their singles over a decade later!?!?!? They should have been arrested then & there! ;-)

Fugue
January 4th 2009



7351 Comments


Glad to see you just as prolific as ever in the new year Davey. Still need to give Def Leppard a whirl, just been busy.

Oh and I agree that your 100th review should be something great, how about a good AC/DC release?, greatest Aussie band ever etc etc.

Spamue1G
January 4th 2009



1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ Forgetting The Living End...
Well, I only recently got into Def Leppard (on your sort-of recommendation) but from what I've heard, I can ALMOST see where you're coming from. I think 80's pop in general had lots to do with it as well, probably, but it's not too much of an over-exaggeration. That said, I like Mirror Mirror more than any of the future stuff that I've heard by them, as most of 80's pop is the kind of music I listen to if I want to get off going to school in the morning, if you catch my drift :P

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I'm still motoring along after a little break over the holiday period Ross. As for your suggestion of AC/DC being the greatest Aussie band ever; Careful. Suggesting that usually begins a rather long back & forth argument. Not so much over whether they are greatest or not, but rather whether they are Australian or not!
Fair enough Spamue1. I think I just needed some degree of vindication on 'Mirror Mirror' since it often gets forgotten by the masses (even fans). Although, they did occasionally play it live on their tour of down under 2 months ago, which I guess suggests that the band like it.

PunkItUp
January 19th 2009



207 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

good review, terrible band, awful album

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 19th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks, great band, good album

mark7477
November 20th 2010



392 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Overall it's a pretty good def leppard album although i do agree the second half is tad bit boring at times rehashing the same ol ac/dc type of rock although bringing on the heartbreak stands out from the rest and is classic as well

mark7477
November 20th 2010



392 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Overall it's a pretty good def leppard album although i do agree the second half is tad bit boring at times rehashing the same ol ac/dc type of rock although bringing on the heartbreak stands out from the rest and is classic as well

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're bringin' on the heartbreak
Bringin' on the heartache


BigHans
March 29th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I just decided that this is definitely a 5. Another Hit and Run owns face.



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