Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Def Leppard: High “N” Dry

Once upon a time, Def Leppard was a young, up and coming contender in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Their second album, High ‘N’ Dry (1981), was a raw slice of AC/DC influenced bare knuckles rock, with plenty of throat rattling screams from lead vocalist Joe Elliot, twin lead guitar rampages courtesy of Steve Clark and Pete Willis, and the solid foundation of Rick Savage’s bass and the 2 armed drumming of Rick Allen. Big-time producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange foreshadowed the superstardom that awaited his young charges with the power ballad Bringin’ On The Heartbreak, but the rest of the album was pure, in your face heavy rock.

The title song was a ripper, as was the opening track, Let It Go. Other prime contenders were On Through The Night, No No No, Another Hit And Run, Lady Strange, and the badass instrumental Switch 625.

Of course, Def Leppard went on to astronomical success with their next several albums, but for me, High ‘N’ Dry was where that youthful exuberance and hell bent for leather attitude was at its peak.

I count myself extremely lucky to have witnessed this version of the band open for Ozzy Osbourne (with Randy Rhoads) just over a month after this album was released.

On This Day in History

On this date in history I traveled to my home away from home, the glorious Market Square Arena, with 4 of my high school classmates in 1983 to witness the biggest upset of my concert-going career. Billy Squier was the headliner, but the opening act was Def Leppard, and the result was a unanimous decision knockout by the young Leppards! They had just released their 3rd album, Pyromania, and the video for “Photograph” was blowing up MTV on an hourly basis. Their popularity was cresting like a titanic ocean wave and this fact, coupled with their ferocious energy and passionate performance just obliterated Billy Squier’s performance.
To put in perspective how long ago this was, Rick Allen still had both arms and Steve Clark was still alive. Phil Collen had joined the band prior to recording the new album and his lead playing during their performance was absolutely volcanic, meshing with Clark’s low slung Les Paul classic attack.
Joe Elliot sang great and worked the crowd like a master. The contrast between his style and Squier’s was a key to how the whole show played out. Elliot was supremely confident, and Squier just seemed like he was whining every time he talked to the audience, pleading for us to stand up or make more noise, or sing along with that annoying “Stroke me, stroke me” chorus.
I had seen him open for Queen and Alice Cooper at separate shows and he was a solid opener, but he just didn’t seem to have enough mojo to pull off being a major headliner. It was clear that Def Leppard’s days as an opening act were at an end, and one rarely gets to witness the shift in power between two bands as clearly as it occurred on this night.

Rock of Ages live  1983 Pyromania Tour

Written B Braddon S. Williams

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