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Reeling in the Yeahs!
Joe Elliot takes time out from filling American baseball stadiums to tell Colm O'Hare about Def Leppard's glam worshipping labour of love.
Colm O Hare, 21 Jun 2006
Maybe it’s a sign of the times but the covers albums just keep on coming. Whether it’s Bruce Springsteen reworking Pete Seeger’s back catalogue at one end of the scale or someone like Canadian songstress Emm Gryner tackling the Irish rock oeuvre, everyone seems to be doing it.
We’ve already had covers outings from the likes of Paul Weller, The Beautiful South and Tori Amos to name but a few. Arena rock giants Def Leppard are the latest big-name act to pay homage to their favourite artists and songs. Their new album Yeah! is the Sheffield outfit’s take on 14 gems from the likes of Mott The Hoople, T-Rex, Thin Lizzy, ELO and The Faces. No surprises there, you might think, but closer inspection reveals that it isn’t the obvious trawl through glam rock’s glory years that you might expect. For one, it manages to stretch as far back as The Kink’s ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and forward to Blondie’s (or The Nerve’s to be more precise) new wave ‘Hanging On The Telephone’ while also covering such unexpected territory as Badfinger’s power-pop anthem ‘No Matter What’ and David Essex’s ‘Rock On’ .
“I’ve been thinking about doing it for a long, long time,” says the band’s frontman and long-time Dublin resident Joe Elliott. “In fact, I’ve wanted to do something like this ever since I heard Bowie’s Pin Ups [released in 1973]. I always thought it was smart that when he was right at the top of his game he could show the world where his roots were.”
For Elliott and the rest of the band Yeah! is also an overdue opportunity to show the band’s true roots which he says have been widely mis-interpreted over the years.
“People would always say about Def Leppard, ‘Of course you came from the British New Wave of Heavy Metal scene’ when the truth was, we didn’t want anything to do with it,” he says. “I’m not knocking it, but we were from a different era completely. We were citing Slade, The Sweet, T-Rex and Bowie as influences when we started out, not heavy metal. As a kid in Sheffield with no older brother I had no record collection to raid. My outlet growing up was Radio Luxembourg and BBC Radio One and watching Top Of The Pops waiting for Wizzard to come on. You didn’t get Zeppelin or Sabbath on any of those shows. Even Alan Freeman’s rock show was on Radio One on Saturday afternoon when everyone was at the football match.”