It’s hard to believe that Def Leppard’s song “Photograph” was an (unfinished) leftover track from the band’s High ‘n’ Dry album.
“Photograph” Best Represents Pyromania
One thing is for certain: Pyromania would not have been the massive success that it was without “Photograph.”
The made-for-radio song was the album’s first (and most successful) single, peaking at #12 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 Singles chart.
In recent years, Billboard.com described “Photograph” like this:
“The classic first chords of the No. 12-peaking “Photograph” are the equivalent of revving an engine before a drag race. Between [Joe] Elliott’s mile-high cries and [Phil] Collen utterly owning the solo on the Pyromania track, it’s one of the quintet’s most passionate and best-performed songs.”
That effectively sums up the song and reiterates why “Photograph” remains as pleasing to the ears today as it did in 1983.
A significant amount of credit must go to Steve Clark for creating the song’s unforgettable guitar riff, and to producer Mutt Lange for not only coming up with the line “All I’ve got is a photograph,” but also putting the pieces together to create one of Def Leppard’s greatest classics. (And what better time for Phil Collen to join the band and contribute his own unforgettable guitar solo!)
Def Leppard’s “Photograph”: A Whole New Perspective
Speaking of Joe Elliott’s “mile-high cries” and Mutt Lange’s incomparable production, it’s fascinating to listen to the song when only Joe’s vocals are showcased, especially when you know what the song ultimately sounds like in its final form.
Let’s take a listen, shall we?
Here’s a video spotlighting Joe Elliott’s “Photograph” vocal track(s):
To further indulge, here’s another amusing video showcasing Joe’s vocals as well as additional backing tracks:
Listening to these versions adds a whole new appreciation to the vocals, the song in its entirety, and Mutt Lange’s masterful production. (If you’d like a more detailed look at the layered tracks that went into creating “Photograph,” click here to read about Pyromania and watch a mesmerizing studio console demonstration.)
And in case you’re interested in adding a Def Leppard “Photograph” t-shirt to your wardrobe, it’s available! Click on the shirt below to see its Amazon page:
“Photograph”: Imitated But Never Duplicated
They’re respectable efforts (though some versions are definitely better than others), but the original still reigns supreme.
Decades after its release, Def Leppard’s version still crackles with energy and remains just as contemporary.
The Def Leppard Report ranks “Photograph” the #1 track on the Pyromania album. Here’s a snippet from the ranking:
“Just about as perfect as a Def Leppard power-pop song can get — filled with Steve Clark‘s massive, trademark guitar riffs (and a guitar solo courtesy of newcomer at the time, Phil Collen), soaring hooks, and unforgettable stadium-sized harmonies…”
A complete song ranking and review of all 115 songs from Def Leppard’s original studio albums can be read here.
Def Leppard: Photograph, You Got Some Kinda Hold On Me…
How fitting that a photograph can instantly conjure up cherished memories and feelings because, in this instance, the same can be said about Def Leppard’s “Photograph.”
It’s a timeless treasure.