It has been announced that Def Leppard are planning to re-record their entire back catalogue.
The news comes following a royalties dispute with Universal. Frontman Joe Elliot has said “We’ll just replace our back catalogue with brand new, exact same versions of what we did“.
Exact same? It’s never going to be. Not ever. It can’t be. After all, not only does Joe Elliot sound different these days (although he’s supposedly working on getting his old voice ready for the new recordings), but rather understandably, Rick Allen doesn’t play in the same way he did pre-’87. Vivian Campbell is a superb guitarist, but do we really want repackaged versions of the band’s early albums with him playing Steve Clark’s guitar parts, no matter how great they’ll be? Steve Clark’s memory is kept alive by his recordings with Def Leppard throughout the 80s, and the idea of replacing those recordings is incredibly insensitive.
At REAL GONE, we love Def Leppard but this news is an absolute travesty. This dispute over royalties could lead to the Leps pissing on their legacy. This could turn out far worse than when Ozzy Osbourne issued remasters of ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ and ‘Diary of Madman’ with completely new rhythm tracks.
The crux of the matter is essentially this: Re-recordings can be fine, but the fact that Def Leppard plan to completely replace classic albums like the multi-million selling ‘Pyromania’ and ‘Hysteria’ leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Granted, most existing fans should already own most – if not all – of the back catalogue already but the idea that, in the future, any new fans will only be able to buy potentially inferior re-recordings can surely only harm the band’s reputation.
The only people who hope to gain anything from this are the band themselves. Although long-term supporters and fans may welcome new recordings as an alternative, they shouldn’t be a replacement. New fans could always track down second hand copies of the proper recordings and, in the event of this all actually happening, would be strongly recommended to do so. If they did, Def Leppard wouldn’t earn any extra royalties from those either, of course, so this is potentially a losing situation for everyone concerned.
The band have already recorded new versions of their classic hits ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’. It is not known how long the process of re-recording the complete albums will take.
Let’s hope this is just a band mouthing off, making threats and the whole sorry mess gets sorted quickly. That way a run of great albums (and even the poor ‘Euphoria’) will be allowed to stay as they are.