Record Store Day usually eludes me.
I forget or don’t make the effort to drive to the closest record store 20 minutes away or to the coolest record store 30 minutes away. But if I’m tuned in to the vinyl holiday and a band I like releases something preferably new but peaks my interest, a reason usually comes to pass to make a trip on the off-chance a limited release Record Store Day vinyl remains in stock.
In 2017, Def Leppard released an EP on RSD, known as The Def Leppard E.P., and I bought it because well, Def Leppard, but I liked the cover with the leopard and the RCA gramophone parroting the famous His Master’s Voice painting that used a dog named Nipper. (The more you know…). OK, I was sold on the leopard.
I slipped the record away into my collection. Until now.
I had no idea what songs were on it, how many or whether the songs were new, B-sides, rarities or covers. Turns out, The Def Leppard E.P. resurrected the original 1979 self-produced debut EP release from the band. (If I was in a start-up band, Procrastination would certainly be my offer for band name.)
The band passed out and sold The Def Leppard E.P. during shows back in the day and the effort paid off. All three songs were eventually rerecorded with “Getcha Rocks Off,” retitled as “Rocks Off,” and “The Overture,” retitled as “Overture” appearing on Def Leppard’s 1980 debut album On Through the Night while “Ride Into the Sun” appeared as a B-side to the single release of “Hysteria” in 1987.
Def Leppard, at this time, consisted of singer Joe Elliott, guitarists Steve Clark and Pete Willis and Rick Savage on bass. Frank Noon filled in on drums as a session musician. Elliott and Savage remain more than 40 years later. Willis was replaced by Phil Collen in 1982 and Clark died from alcohol poisoning in 1991.
Well, I didn’t open the record. I looked. I knew I should have bought two copies. The RSD version holds value so I cheated and streamed the songs. Sad face, I’m sure.
The Def Leppard E.P. Album Review
The Def Leppard E.P. offers a great early look into the band. Just three songs, though nearly 15 minutes of music, but clearly some hard rock magic nearly fully bloomed in this young band that knew how to craft, write, and play. The Def Leppard E.P. harnesses the tone of the day without relying fully on the 70s architecture of hard rock and sounds very little like the Def Leppard that would take the 1980s by storm in a few years.
Some early influences, perhaps, from Rush, Styx, Judas Priest and even a smidgen of Black Sabbath hover over all three songs but the sound definitely the band’s own despite this initial attempt at joining the ranks of the eventual classic rock genre.
“Ride Into The Sun” and “Getcha Rocks Off” dive right into the era but retain this fresh magnetism maybe likely a result from not hearing these songs three times a day on local radio reminding you of their age.
“Ride Into The Sun” begs for more cowbell, a hallmark of the 70s, but because Def Leppard uses it sparingly, just a few taps at the start, this song ages very well. Savage lays down a stellar bass the entire way, while Willis delivers the goods on a guitar solo. “Getcha Rocks Off” ups the pace in this straight forward hard rock song but with a middle jam that exceeds all expectations as Clark gets the nod for the guitar solo. Elliott meanwhile has a natural rocker’s vocal, in tune and fully in command.
“The Overture,” a nearly eight minute long track provides a glimpse into the eventual ballads the band would later endear themselves, to their female fan base. This song could very well be from any of their 80s blockbusters or, dare I say, even a new release. A delicate melody to start, and you can hear Elliott’s future vocal tone coming through, before this one sets off on a faster pace with great drum work from Noon.
More than 40 years later Def Leppard remains an integral part of the rock music community. The band sells out arenas and (hopefully) eventually stadiums as they embark on a tour with un-retired Motley Crue now postponed from 2020 to 2022 thanks to the pandemic. But most bands lasting nearly a generation don’t forget their roots, and neither should Def Leppard. Any one of the songs off The Def Leppard E.P. would shake the concert setlist up.
Def Leppard Debut E.P. Songs:
- Ride Into the Sun
- Getcha Rocks Off
- The Overture