What’s Going On: Def Leppard’s “Drastic Symphonies”

You may have missed it, but just last month, Def Leppard gave a whole new meaning to the term classic rock. The bad boys from Sheffield teamed up with London’s The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for Drastic Symphonies, a collection of reimagined and reconstructed renditions of Def Leppard’s biggest hits. Doing orchestral versions of classic hits is right next to embarking on a Vegas residency or tackling the Great American Songbook in the heritage act playbook. But no need to roll your eyes, the  Rock & Roll Hall of Famers sound just as vital and fresh as ever. It’s What’s Going On approved, so you’ll definitely be in for a good time!

Recorded last year at the famed Abbey Road studios, Def Leppard worked closely alongside producers Ronan McHugh & Nick Patrick and arranger Eric Gorfain. The band’s most loved hits were totally deconstructed and recreated with lush symphonic arrangements that lend an air of gravitas to the tracks, even “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” In addition to everything The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra brought to the table, the band had access to the original tapes of their recordings and integrated that audio into this new collection. One of the coolest usages of the classic tapes is having vocalist Joe Elliott duetting with his younger self. Discussing how the band approached the Drastic Symphonies recording process, guitarist Phil Collen states: “When the offer of doing an orchestral album with the RPO was suggested, we were honoured. But we didn’t just want an orchestra plonked over our previous recordings. We decided to create something special where we would have something classic but present it in a brand new way that would involve making everything work in the context of Drastic Symphonies. Recording new parts, remixing previous sounds, taking some of our instruments out so the orchestra could breathe, and literally making a new album.”

Speaking further on Def Leppard’s knack for experimentation and why this orchestral approach made sense for them, frontman Joe Elliott says: “Def Leppard has always enjoyed veering off the expected path – working with the likes of Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift & Alison Krauss for example. So, when the offer to revisit some of our back catalogue with the Royal Philharmonic was presented to us, we all jumped at it. Although we’re far from the first band to ever do this, working directly with an orchestra at Abbey Road on some of our more orchestrated songs seemed too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

Def Leppard’s Drastic Symphonies Tracklisting:

1. Turn To Dust

2. Paper Sun

3. Animal

4. Pour Some Sugar on Me (Stripped version)

5. Hysteria

6. Love Bites

7. Goodbye For Good This Time

8. Love

9. Gods Of War

10. Angels (Can’t Help You Now)

11. Bringin’ On The Heartbreak

12. Switch 625

13. Too Late for Love

14. When Love & Hate Collide

15. Kings Of the World

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