Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
on 20 October 2015
On Through The Night was released in 1980 however the production values still sound distinctly 70’s. Joe Elliott has many times claimed the band were never happy with the sound of this record and that the demos recorded in 1978 and 1979 were much more vibrant and showed Def Leppard as a visceral live act. Therefore as a result, since the 80’s they have distanced themselves from this material. To be fair, a lot of the songs from this album don’t sit too well beside the bands later output. Listen to Overture and Animal side by side. Pretty much a different band.
As a result, I believe On Through The Night needs to be looked on or listened to as a pre-cursor to the Def Leppard we know and love. Whilst there are many who favour this album and claim it their best, it’s not the record the band themselves are completely proud of. After all, they were still late teens and early twenties trying to find their feet and ‘sound’ in an era where the musical landscape was all over the place. For example, the charts were filled with Abba, Sex Pistols, The Damned, Blondie, The Carpenters, 10cc, Fleetwood Mac and the last days of Led Zeppelin. From a ‘rock’ viewpoint, they were categorised as New Wave Of Heavy Metal alongside Iron Maiden, Saxon and Diamond Head. Whilst OTTN does have elements of these bands, specifically Maiden with the ‘running’ bass lines and drums, the vocals also bring to mind Boston and America and some of the AOR acts of this period.
Therefore I find it very hard to pigeon-hole this album which is a good thing. There’s the poppy Hello America and It Don’t Matter to the more NWOBHM like Rocks Off, Answer To The Master and When The Walls Came Tumbling Down. Whilst Def Leppard were an emerging talent in the UK, it was the US that took to them faster alienating some British fans and press calling them sell-outs. A bit unfair considering the chance to play in large theatres in America.
So, a good album which sounds dated even for 1980 so I would imagine it’s very hard for a younger fan who has discovered Def Leppard via Hysteria etc. to pick it up and be thrilled by it. But look beyond the production and distinctly 70’s drum sounds and there is a very fine set of songs at its heart and a young band ready to take on the world.