Def Leppard are in the process of putting together their first-ever full-length live album of their three-decade career.
Unlike other artists such as Pearl Jam, R.E.M. or Dave Matthews Band — who tend to have a warts-and-all philosophy in terms of releasing documents of their live shows — the notoriously meticulous English rockers will piece together their live disc from recordings from every show from their 2010 world tour.
Frontman Joe Elliott tells NME that the band's sound engineer will be listening closely to every show from the tour, searching for flawless renditions of the songs selected for the disc. Even for the most dedicated Def Leppard fan, this seems like a rather grueling task, as Elliott insists that each performance needs to be heard at least twice to "make sure nothing bad slips through."
This perfectionist approach is nothing new for Def Leppard. In the book Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music, author Greg Milner details the making of their hit album Hysteria. While many rock albums are recorded in a piecemeal fashion with overdubs, Hysteria went a few steps further, with each part recorded precisely in isolation and carefully edited together to create what the band and producer Mutt Lange envisioned as the most ideal possible version of each song.
Hysteria was originally set to be produced by Jim Steinman, who had helmed Meatloaf's lavish Bat Out of Hell, but those sessions were scrapped following creative disagreements. Mainly, the group disliked the way Steinman privileged spontaneity over precision. In Milner's book, he related a story in which Steinman told the group that they had nailed a part, but they insisted that they were only tuning up in the recording. When Steinman told them that the take "sounds honest," Elliott explained "Yeah, but to a kid in Boise, Idaho, it sounds out of tune."
Hopefully Def Leppard's fans in Boise, Idado will be pleased with this live record — whenever it may hit stores.
- Joe Elliott