Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
Bring up the name Def Leppard among the cool kids these days and you might be treated to a dismissive sneer and quickly viewed as someone who doesn’t know about the latest hip band. I don’t really think that is fair – Def Leppard came out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late 70’s and were considered peers of Judas Priest once upon a time. Their 1980 debut album, On Through the Night, was a hint at what Def Leppard could carry out without compromising their vision of heavy metal. Just one year later in 1981 the follow-up was released. High ‘n’ Dry is still my favorite Def Leppard album by far. It bears fruit to the promise of the debut and doesn’t wholly lean in a pop rock direction (something they would pursue with gleeful abandon successfully shortly after this). It also features my favorite Def Leppard song, Bringin’ On The Heartbreak. The 2nd single pulled from the record, it did not initially chart (it was re-released in 1984 and went to #61). Written by original guitarists Steve Clark (RIP), Pete Willis (fired from Def Leppard in ’82), and singer Joe Elliot (still fronting the band), it is an exercise in atmosphere, heavy metal balladry, and incredible vocals. You can see where the band would go from here, but this in-between phase is perfection for me. There isn’t a lot separating this track from the post-punk music of the time, lending credibility to the cliché – music is universal. I suppose the post-punk bands didn’t have incredibly complex and melodic guitar solos though. Emotion just bleeds out of Joe Elliot’s voice and reaches its pinnacle during the chorus. Hard to believe this is 32 years old already. I’ve included the original video in this piece just so you can see how young the band was. The popular video that you might remember from MTV’s golden days was shot 3 years later after Def Leppard had conquered the world. Key lyrics: “Oh I’m sorry but it’s true / You’re bringin’ on the heartbreak / Takin’ all the best of me / Oh can’t you see?”