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Def Leppard's latest box set and more, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, June 11, 2021

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Def Leppard has been living in the past -- happily -- during the six years since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band's last, self-titled studio album.

Its new "The Collection: Volume III," which comes out Friday, April 11, is the latest in a series of archival releases that's included five other box sets, a greatest hits compilation and two live albums. The group also started an online subscription Vault service to catering to what frontman Joe Elliott calls "the uber fan."

The quintet, which has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, has its eye on the future as well. New music is being written, and a stadium tour with Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts has been moved to the summer of 2022. For now, however, Elliott hopes the group's glorious past will be enough to go on...

Noting that "we've got this legacy" with Def Leppard, Elliott, 61, says by phone from his home in Ireland that the archival projects are about more than randomly releasing material from the band's past. "We want to -- I hate this fancy terminology -- keep the brand alive. Its nice to get the back catalog tidied and all in one place. We had already started that before the pandemic, of course, but it's been nice to have the time to get it that much together. We can't tour, so it was the prefect kind of excuse to make this our work for the time being and have the time to get the back catalog all nice and tidy."

Elliott and company are also aspiring to make the various titles aesthetically pleasing; The four parts of "The Collection," for instance, will form the Def Leppard logo when placed together. "I want it to be extreme value for the money, and I want it to look really good. There are some amazing box sets out there -- the people like Pink Floyd and that lot. The 40th anniversary releases of the Rush back catalog. They do insanely brilliant stuff, and you want to be in the same backyard as those guys. There's a yardstick to measure yourself against with some of these great artists that came long before us, to have our work match what theirs looks like."

"The Collection: Volume III" covers the period from 2002-2008, including the albums "X" and "Songs From the Sparkle Lounge" and the covers album "Yeah!." The bonus tracks, meanwhile, feature another batch of rare and unreleased cover songs, which Elliott considers key to understanding where Def Leppard comes from, musically. "(David) "Bowie, (Marc) Bolan, Mott (the Hoople), Queen, Slade, Sweet...that's where our three-minute pop-rock songs like 'Photograph' and 'Rock of Ages' came from. We're always getting roped into either the L.A. hair metal scene or the (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), but it's not like we're channeling (Black) Sabbath all the time. We wanted to do the harmonies and the melodies. So when we do our covers, we do them with integrity because those songs mean a lot to us. We don't want to just hand them out as, like, throwaways."

Elliott says he and the other band members have been exchanging new song ideas as well and are actually "ahead of the game" for a new album, though he isn't sure yet when that will be recorded and released. "We were going to get together to write just as the pandemic kicked in last year, so we decided we'd just try to do it remotely and see what the results are gonna be. I think because we've known each other for so long we all know what were capable of and what we're interested in doing. So we've been going back and forth, sending ideas over the Internet, MP3s, email and stuff and working on a bunch of songs that one day will come to fruition, I'm sure. I'm just happy we've still got that process going. It's great that we've got some songs in the can that we're really happy with already."

Elliott is looking forward to taking Def Leppard back on the road next year, but beyond the tragedies associated with the pandemic he's grateful for what the time off allowed him to do. "We're very isolated where I am, so I'm trying to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty. Everyone's taking advantage of the fact we've got this time to be ourselves, because for 30 years we've been on the clock. I'm just enjoying the fact Im watching my kids grow up rather than being Skype daddy or Facetime daddy or whatever. I don't think this (time off) is gonna do any harm to the band, 'cause the legacy's already there, and it's just gonna keep growing and growing because a catalog should do that for you."

The Stadium Tour featuring Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts plays at 4:30 p.m. July 10, 2022 at Comerica Park, downtown Detroit. Tickets via 313Presents.com. Tickets for the previously scheduled dates (Aug. 20, 2020 and July 10, 2021) will be honored or refunded.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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