Def Leppard’s album Songs from the Sparkle Lounge was released 11 years ago today.
Original U.S. release date: April 29, 2008
Def Leppard’s Sparkle Lounge
Def Leppard’s Songs from the Sparkle Lounge — along with its memorable Sgt. Pepper’s-ish album cover — marked the band’s return after a six-year-long hiatus between original studio albums. (The band kept themselves busy with their Yeah! album release and continuous touring during that time.)
Named after the backstage area the band used during their 2007 tour to work on Songs from the Sparkle Lounge song ideas, here’s how Joe Elliott explained the unique set up to Billboard.com:
“The crew started having a bit of fun with it, putting in sparkly lights, candles, incense — you name it. It turned into this very atmospheric little workspace.”
Welcome To The Sparkle Lounge
Clocking in at under 40 minutes, the album’s 11 songs were in the vein of the band’s previous album X, yet with a (more consistent) harder edge.
Most of the songwriting was credited to an individual band member. Aside from opening track “Go” (written by Joe Elliott and Phil Collen) and first single “Nine Lives” (Joe, Phil, Rick Savage, and Tim McGraw), the album’s 9 remaining songs had only one songwriter credit.
For Def Leppard enthusiasts, it’s fairly easy to identify which band member was behind which song: melody-infused tracks “C’mon C’mon” and “Love” had Rick Savage’s signature all over them; Joe Elliott’s “Come Undone” and “Bad Actress” showcased his harder-edged song approach (“Bad Actress” also had a similar vibe to Joe’s Hysteria-era b-side “She’s Too Tough”); Phil Collen’s guitar-driven tracks “Tomorrow” and “Hallucinate” (which, in hindsight, seems like a precursor to the track “It’s All About Believing,” which he also penned); and Vivian Campbell’s blues and psychedelic influences come across in tracks “Cruise Control,” “Only The Good Die Young,” and “Gotta Let It Go,” all of which he wrote.
Here’s Joe Elliott discussing the album and their single songwriter creative approach:
Does that mean the album is disjointed since it’s mostly comprised of individual contributions?
Songs from the Sparkle Lounge ended up spotlighting multiple facets of the band, a more freestyle approach that would be taken even further in the self-titled Def Leppard follow-up (seven years later).
Def Leppard’s Sparkle Lounge Tour
Is Songs from the Sparkle Lounge at the top of many fans’ lists of favorite Def Leppard albums?
But what the album did provide was an opportunity for the band to exercise its creative muscles, churn out new music for eagerly awaiting fans, and get back to touring.
Here’s a great video compilation featuring highlights from the Songs from the Sparkle Lounge tour era:
The band (and crew) clearly enjoyed themselves on the road, as did fans who were part of yet another memorable Def Leppard tour experience.
Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose
Songs from the Sparkle Lounge wasn’t a hit with many critics, but when has that ever mattered for a Def Leppard album?
The album still had a very respectable Top 5 album debut in the U.S. (and Top 10 in the U.K.).
And though the Songs from the Sparkle Lounge album isn’t represented much on tour, if at all, these days, re-adding a song like “C’mon C’mon” to their setlist would no doubt be a pleasant surprise.
Def Leppard’s Sparkle Lounge Songs Ranked
The album does have its moments: “C’mon C’mon” is definitely a standout track, as is “Go” and the underrated “Tomorrow.” And the Queen-esque, emotional power-ballad “Love” had the potential to be one of the band’s greatest epics — to read more about it, here’s a complete breakdown and ranking for all of Song from the Sparkle Lounge‘s songs.)
In the end, a new Def Leppard album will always be welcomed. And just because Songs from the Sparkle Lounge doesn’t always shine for some, it doesn’t mean Def Leppard’s sparkle lost any of its luster.