'It would be ridiculous': Def Leppard is rerecording its old hits, but not its old videos

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Def Leppard has become the latest act to re-record its biggest hits — and their aim, according to singer Joe Elliot, is a series of “100 percent forgeries.” Hear a sample of the 2012 version of “Rock of Ages” here!

Unlike previous remake projects by the likes of Styx and Journey, however, Def Leppard hasn’t been forced back into the studio because of personnel changes but because the group was unable to reach a deal with its old label for digital rights. The first two songs to be updated were “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Rock of Ages.”

“Rock of Ages,” with its memorably nonsensical opening phrase “gunter glieben glauben globen,” went to No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, helping 1983’s Pyromania to No. 2 on the album charts. “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” from 1987’s Hysteria, rose to No. 2 and was also ranked No. 2 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s.

Elliott tells MTV Hive that other memorable tracks from the band’s early hitmaking era will follow — reiterating that it’s a business decision.

What Def Leppard won’t be doing is shooting new videos — something Eliott said would be “pretty sad” considering the band’s advanced ages: “It’s easy to reproduce the sound and get it to match – but we can’t go in a time machine and get rid of the wrinkles. We are what we are. I’m 52; I’ll be 53 in a few months. It would be ridiculous.”

As for Def Leppard’s steady lineup, despite having emerged in an era that saw bands like Van Halen and Guns n’ Roses go through massive retooling, Elliott says: “It’s about all being on the same page and respecting each other. We all came from Sheffield, England, which is a very industrial working class town. It’s steel and coal, basically. The only thing that came from Sheffield before us, other than maybe some cutlery that you have at home, was Joe Cocker and the Human League. When you get the opportunity to do what we do for a living, you’re always grateful. As tough as it can sometimes be to record and tour with a band, it’s better than working down in the coal mine.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Def Leppard. Click through the title for complete reviews …

DEF LEPPARD – YEAH! (2006): You know the cliché: Covers albums are an artist’s last gasp. It seemed a really sad step for them. This must clearly be a band on verge of calling it quits, right? Until I heard Yeah!, I’d have said yes. I was prepared for something really embarrassing — a bunch of tired-sounding covers, surely. Wow, was I blown away when this thing started playing. I found myself unable to stop listening, in fact, and when the album was done, I was in shock. Yeah! was the best thing they’d done in years, but that sounds like a back-handed compliment — and it’s not meant to be. The energy of the band here was the same as back in the 1980s, ranking right up there with Pyromania and Hysteria.

DEF LEPPARD – HYSTERIA (1987): My history with Def Leppard may have started with Pyromania, one of the greatest hard rock albums ever, but Hysteria holds a very special place in my heart. Like a couple of my other favorite albums of all time (Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime and Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son), it came along at just the right time — late summer of 1987, mid-teenage years, when I picked it up based solely out of a love for Pyromania. Thereupon would begin a nearly two-year stint of daily listening to this album, the kind of listening that seemed to only happen at that time in my life.

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