Def Leppard pours ‘Mirrorball’ of sugar on fans

TORONTO, (Reuters) – It may be difficult to believe  that after three decades of rocking hard — 65 million albums  sold and hundreds of packed concerts — Def Leppard hadn’t  released a standalone live album until this year.

As the bandmembers put it, “Mirrorball: Live and More” came  together without much advance planning, and owes its existence,  at least partly, to them leaving their old record label which,  the group thinks, may unleash a new burst of creativity.

The three disc collection features live recordings of some  of Def Leppard’s greatest hits such as “Pour Some Sugar on Me,”  “Rock of Ages,” and “Photograph.” It has three new tracks,  including anthem “Kings of the World”, and a behind-the-scenes  DVD. But a live album was never atop of the bands to do list.

“The band’s focus has always been on writing and recording  new songs,” guitarist Vivian Campbell told Reuters. “It just  never seemed appropriate for us to do a live record. It wasn’t  something that we sat down and thought, ‘We are going to put  out a live album in 2011.’

It just sort of happened.”

Instead of playing one concert and recording it, or taping  a series of shows and picking the best one for the album,  Campbell and his bandmates — singer Joe Elliott, lead  guitarist Phil Collen, bassist Rick Savage, and drummer Rick  Allen — picked the songs singularly from separate performances  so the fans got the best of the best.

“In a way it was sort of like cheating…but it made it  more relaxed for us because we never once thought that we were  recording,” said Campbell.

“Mirrorball” is Def Leppard’s initial release as an  independent act after finding themselves without a major label  for the first time after 30 years with Universal Records.

Campbell sees that factor as a positive, creatively,  because it should force the band to put out singles more  frequently in keeping with trends in the recording industry  that has performers releasing individual songs via download.

“I really don’t see the point in putting out a 10 or 12  song album anymore. It’s kind of like sticking our toes in the  water, being independent, but that’s the way that the industry  is now. I do believe that the album is dead,” he said.

And like so many bands in these days of declining CD sales  and the fewer dollars that comes with it, Def Leppard is now  touring through North America to connect with their fans.

In addition to the album, rock photographer Ross Halfin has  published “Def Leppard: the Definitive Visual History,” a photo  anthology chronicling the band’s three decades of rock.

The band also is part of the “Rock the Cradle” series which  features lullaby renditions of rock classics. “Dreamin with Def  Leppard” is a 12-song compilation that features lullaby  versions of their greatest hits such as “Love Bites” and  “Animal”. Recreating songs in different ways shows listeners  just exactly what a good tune truly is, Campbell said.

“It’s interesting to hear how songs can morph and how they  can be given different clothes. I think that’s the indication  of a good song, if you can restyle it and do it in a different  genre. I’m glad to say that many Def Leppard songs stand up to  it.”

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