Last month, Def Leppard released newly-rerecorded versions of two of their classic hits from the 1980s: "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and "Rock Of Ages."
The concept was to tie in the name of their summer tour – Rock of Ages – with the Broadway play-turned film of the same name starring Tom Cruise, who also sings “Sugar” on the soundtrack album…another good reason for the UK rockers to keep their name front and center.
But there’s more to it than that.
“It was, well, let’s just say a sensible business decision on our part,” Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott tells MTVHive. “How can I put this politely? We were having a major disagreement with our ex-record label about the digital rights for our back catalog. We couldn’t come to a mutual understanding that seemed fair for both sides. So we finally just decided to re-record all our hits. We started with ‘Sugar’ and ‘Rock of Ages,’ and I think we did a pretty good job. It’s hard work trying to recreate something you did 30 years ago.”
Was the band tempted to tinker with their original song arrangements, after all these years?
“None of that,” says Elliott. “I’ve heard re-recordings by people who’ve done that, and I wanted to throw the iPod through the window. There’s nothing worse than being let down by an artist you love. Here’s a great example. Bless him because he passed away, but there’s a guy called Andrew Gold. Back in the ’70s he had a song called ‘Lonely Boy’ that’s just wonderful. When we were out on tour, it just popped into my head for no reason. I was probably in Boise, Idaho at the time. So I went to download what I thought was the original, and I ended up getting a re-recording. It was like a crappy karaoke version!”
Did Leppard expect to be able to recreate their signature 80s sound during the sessions?
“We tried to do it as closely as we could,” offers Joe. “We got the same sounds, the same key, the same tempo. It was a 100% forgery. That was the idea, anyway. It’s not like a live version, where everything’s a bit looser and you’ve got the ad-libs and the slightly longer guitar solos and the crowd screaming in the background. We were very conscious of the fact that when people download our songs from iTunes, they want it to sound like they remember it.”
Def Leppard launch their Rock Of Ages tour with Poison and Lita Ford on Wednesday (June 20) in Salt Lake City.