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Set a New Course, Men! - 68%

DeathRiderDoom, January 17th, 2010

#31 In My NWOBHM Rarities Review Series

Def Leppard’s successful 2nd album sits somewhere in between the majestic, yet NWOBHMish AOR of the debut, and the ultra produced soft crispness of their platinum selling next two works. One could even argue that said album actually has more of a gritty sound to it than the first album, largely due to the rough dirtiness found woven into songs like the title track of this here single. Though Def Leppard were always a commercially orientated band, and indeed always played AOR, it was in one of several varying forms, and around this time, the band was transitioning quite clearly. Their sound was modernizing with the times, but one could argue they had more to do with inventing this stylistic change, rather than heeding to others’ steeze. Here we have two tracks with an almost AC/DCish roughness to them, particularly in guitar tone and riff style that display a band that though somewhat headed in a softer, more polished direction, were also strangely, getting a bit tougher and nastier at the same time. Make sense? – Didn’t think so. This is AOR that’s grown up a bit from the 70’s rock influenced early stuff, infused a bit more AC/DC and headed off in a new direction, for better or worse.

In any case, ‘Let it Go’ is a pop-rock track as allegiant to that classic Def Leppard sound and formula as anything. As I mentioned, guitars are very AC/DCesque, which you should notice right off the bat. Not only the intro riff, but the simplistic guitar note/verse vocal mating is absolutely reminiscent of AC/DC during their late 70’s/early 80’s period. Even Elliot is doing his share, with a rough, coarse and aggressive vocal tone that’s akin to the late Bon Scott. Nowhere on any of the material for their debut, or the early singles, did Elliot’s voice have this tone. His stylistic comparisons were far closer to Night Ranger than AC/DC.’Switch’ is a less conventional instrumental, paired in that typical fashion with the hit commercial style a-side. I like the tone of this track which seems to build excitement, and showcases some emotive playing from Willis & Clark. Some barely audible piano keys add to the flavour, and Rick Allen’s playing is tight and driving.

Though both songs are good here, I don’t understand the new direction the band took about this time. There’s still a bit of a metal feel to it, particularly in the cool b-side, but I don’t understand the wannabe AC/DC vibe. To me, the style of music found on the previous album was better. It was an awesome combination of majestic AOR, thick NWOBHM, commercial tinges, as well as pieces of Saxon and Angel Witch vibes, as well as the obvious Bronz comparison. Still good here, but I don’t care for it as much the older material. The a-side can’t quite hold shit together as well as some of the awesome tracks from the previous singles, such as ‘Rock Brigade’ or ‘Walls’ but is still neat and catchy.

-DeathRiderDoom