B-SIDES THEMSELVES! Here is some info on nine of Def Leppard’s best flip side efforts!
A more unlikely B-side to “Getcha Rocks Off” would be hard to imagine. Whereas “…Rocks Off” was undisputed in-yer-face metal, The Overture was an almost Rush-style epic – proving that even the Leps had versatility on their side. This EP features Frank Noon on drums and Pete Willis on guitar and is a must-have for any Leppard fan worth his/her spots.
After Phonogram snapped up the Sheffield Steelmen they put them in the studio with producer Nick Tauber to cut four tracks. Only two – “Wasted” and it’s B-side, this version of “Hello America” – ever surfaced, as the band hated the results of that session. “Hello America” positively brims over with youthful cockiness and the overwhelming desire to beat a path to the nearest American town and take it by storm – which, of course, they eventually did. The track was later re-recorded as an A-side (produced by Tom Allom), to be the lead-off single for the band’s debut album “On Through The Night”.
GOOD MORNING FREEDOM
This is the B-side to that “Hello America” A-side. At this stage in their career Def Leppard were clearly beginning to develop their own sound, but even so they still had their Nike trainers stuck deep in the roots of the NWOBHM boom. “Good Morning Freedom” features rather AC/DC riffing from Pete Willis and Steve Clark, while other patches of the song lean more towards Iron Maiden. It’s full-on stuff, though the only real downside being that Joe Elliott’s vocals lurk a bit too far in the background.
As Leppard shifted up a gear into the glorious “High ‘n’ Dry” era they stuck mainly to the heavier options song-wise and “Switch 625” (the B-side to “Let It Go”) went happily with that flow. A totally satisfying instrumental piece; it gave Steve and Pete a chance to really blow their fuses on their guitars without that nice Elliott chappie getting in on the act! “Switch 625 is great to stick up the nose of anyone who tells you Def Leppard are a bunch of wet and wimpy rockers. Crank this one up!
ME AND MY WINE
Utterly Classic early 80s Leppard which every feline fan should have a copy of – especially as it was the flip side to the tumultuous tear-jerker “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”! Even better, nip out and buy the “Historia” video/DVD, as Leppard put in a hilarious Young Ones’ style performance to this belting track, all filmed in a house in Ireland. There’s chaos in the kitchen, brutal riffing in the bathroom and heavy metal hoovering in the living room! Really, it’s just a bit of a larf.
I WANNA BE YOUR HERO
Step inside, walk this way… and welcome to the “Hysteria” years. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” was the second single from that multi million selling album and this track adorned it’s B-side. Joe went for a New Man-style sensitive vocal intro which worked quite nicely on this pop-rocker – which, trivia fans, was originally called “Love Bites” until the band nicked that title and used it for something else… “I Wanna Be Your Hero” zips along rather pleasantly but, to be honest, they made the right decision to leave it off “Hysteria”. Avid collectors will want this anyway as the version of it on “Retroactive” is a re-recorded one.
RING OF FIRE
Another one originally earmarked for “Hysteria”, “Ring Of Fire” finally burned it’s way onto vinyl as the flip of “Armageddon It”. Co-written with guru producer Mutt Lange, it’s not really one of the Leps’ greatest moments, but it is different to the slightly changed version on “Retroactive”. Rumour has it that the title has something to do with the after effects of a night on the lager and a large vindaloo…
RIDE INTO THE SUN/LOVE & AFFECTION (LIVE)
Any of you who bought the 12″ version of the “Hysteria” single would have discovered these two gems on its bountiful B-side. “Ride Into The Sun” is a re-recording of one of the three songs on Leppard’s debut EP. It’s much changed here, having been slightly re-written as well as re-recorded, and as a result it’s got twice the punch. Indeed, when played back-to-back with the original, the difference knocks you right out of your chair, especially where Joe’s concerned. The live version of “Love And Affection” was recorded in Tilburg, Holland, in 1987, just a month before “Hysteria” was released. It’s a superb rendition of what was then a new song.
Not strictly Def Leppard but this, the B-side to “Rocket”, features Steve’s guitar technician Malvin Mortimer – stage name Stumpus Maximus – singing his little Welsh heart out. His back up band are the Good Ol’ Boys – guess who?! – but even they can’t make up for Malvin’s quite disturbing lack of vocal talent.
NB: This was also released as the A-side of a promo-only 12″ backed with “Rock Of Ages” (Live)