British rock stalwarts Def Leppard’s latest project is a new album — of old songs.
Actually, the quintet, which has sold more than 65 million albums worldwide, had fi nished recording the 14 covers for “Yeah!” last year but held the album when its record company asked for the “Rock of Ages” compilation, which featured Def Lep’s version of Badfi nger’s “No Matter What.”
The rest of the album, meanwhile, features songs by David Bowie, Queen, the Police, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, the Faces, Electric Light Orchestra, Blondie, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
and others — all of which frontman Joe Elliott considers formative infl uences when his group was getting together in Sheffi eld.
“It’s all the stuff we grew up listening to as kids,” Elliott, 46, explains. “You’ve got to remember that in Britain we didn’t have rock ’n’ roll radio like you guys (in the United States) have got. We used to have two hours a week at midnight of rock stuff where they’d play anything that had a guitar on it, and the rest of the day was Top 40 radio.
“So that’s what we went back to revisit when we were picking the songs on (‘Yeah!’). They’re all rock songs, but they were all based around the three-minute pop format. That’s the only way they could get on the radio.”
Elliott says the project “was great fun” but says it posed its own challenges as well.
“It was very schizophrenic, to be honest,” he says. “One minute I had to be (Roxy Music’s) Bryan Ferry, the next I had to be (Thin Lizzy’s) Phil Lynott, then (T. Rex’s) Marc Bolan and then David Bowie. Talk about having to change clothes every 15 minutes, at least in your mind. But it was ... great.”
Elliott says Def Leppard is starting to work on new material as well and hopes to hit the recording studio later this year.
Def Leppard performs with Journey at 7:30 p.m. Monday at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw north of I-75, Indepen dence Township. Tickets are $88 and $68 pavilion, $28 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit
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