I remember watching the infamous Rock band comedy “Airheads” for the first time not long ago and being taken aback by a dialogue between Brendan Frazier and Joe Mantenga’s characters. Mantenga, who plays this Rock DJ whose station has been taken hostage by Frazier and his band in hopes of getting their demo played on the air, gives the guys a lecture on how today’s music just doesn't say anything relevant. Frazier brilliantly responds in a classic fit of sarcasm “Oh yeah, Purple Haze says something”. Now I’m not one to pick on good old JIMI, but the lyrics to that song were pretty nonsensical. Nonetheless, at least a lot of the older greats were able to cover up their drug induced gibberish with fresh and entertaining music, which is more than I can say for DEF LEPPARD’S recent pile of dribble.
It’s one thing to write a bunch of songs about banging some chick or partying the way that the SCORPIONS and DEEP PURPLE often did, it’s another to do it in the most lyrically vapid way possible. They didn’t even bother with putting the lyrics into this sparkly little self-aggrandizing picture booklet that came with the CD, and why should they? All you’d wind up with is a few pages of aimless syllables guising as verses, paving the way to such intellectually stimulating refrains as “Go, just go” and “C’mon C’mon”. Being the rockers that they are, they foolishly attempt the occasional song focusing on social commentary, coming off as utterly witless and stale.
Maybe the music isn’t really all that bad, right? Unfortunately no, when this thing is plodding on 2 or 3 really cliché ideas, the band reaches once more into the dried up well that once was “Pyromania” and throw in a few lines plagiarizing “Photograph”. In the past, even when overtly copying themselves they’ve managed to sound good, but here the guitar production is so hollow and Alternative Rock sounding that even a familiar minimalist riff lifted off of one of their classics doesn’t come across at all. They even try to lift a few ideas from STYX and ZEPPLIN unsuccessfully with their token ballad “Love”, which ends up throwing in maybe one or two good acoustic lines at the beginning before settling into a really boring set of verses, headlined by Joe Elliot’s decaying vocal chords.
There’s only one song on here that really failed to inspire my annoyance and desire for a quicker finger at the skip button, and that is the last one “Gotta Let Go”. It’s the only song on here that really even attempts to rock out, and succeeds in having the only real worthwhile chorus in the whole album. They avoid too much mixing of recycled ideas with Alternative Rock garbage and simply put together a solid, driving guitar riff and do their usual multi-vocal layering to compensate for there not being much lead guitar activity. If Vivian Campbell truly hated the technical demand he was under in the early 80s, he definitely chose the right group of hacks to play beginner blues guitar solos with.
No this album doesn’t say much, not even when it is attempting to do so. But it’s okay because we have nice pictures of the band framed on the inside of the booklet, a laundry list of thank you notes to all the people who made this piece of crap possible, and of course, plenty of sparkling stars to symbolize what star power can fool the common consumer into buying. But more experienced and individualistic ears will tend to agree with Ronnie Dio. This is indeed “A good band to have diarrhea with”, because the discomfort that this puts on such ears will quickly take the attention of their owner away from his ailing stomach.
(Online December 19, 2008)