’90S ROCK BLAST: DEF LEPPARD – RETRO ACTIVE

def-leppard-retro-active

RETRO ACTIVE

Released: October 5, 1993
Genre: Hard Rock/Glam Rock
Duration: 56:04
Label: Mercury
Producer(s): Def Leppard
Singles: “Two Steps Behind”, “Desert Song”, “Miss You In A Heartbeat”, “Action”, ““Two Steps Behind (re-issue)”
Certified: Platinum (RIAA)

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OVERVIEW

Def Leppard released four albums during the 90s but this time I will specifically focus on “Retro Active”, despite “Adrenalize” being their most commercially and critically successful 90s record. I wanted to talk a little bit more about “Retro Active” because of its unique format that combines groomed up versions of unreleased/B-sides tracks and a couple of covers from previous albums. The album carries with it Def Leppard’s genuine and classic ‘80s sound, making it their most deserving work that came out in the ‘90s. Don’t get me wrong, “Adrenalize” and “Euphoria”, for instance are groundbreaking albums, but they cannot match the variety and character of “Retro Active”. Fuelled up with first-class production quality and of course, the dynamic and charismatic spirit of Def Leppard, the record is the ultimate cause for celebration, especially for die-hard fans of the band, like me. On top of it all, the band gives us one more chance to honor the late Steve Clark (RIP) by revisiting his legacy and experiencing his enormous talents and contributions all over again. We get to hear the first recordings with the new guitarist Vivian Campbell, as well.

In terms of songs, “Retro Active” is an absolute rock festival from start to finish. We get to enjoy a couple of gorgeous ballads -“Miss You in a Heartbeat” and “Two Steps behind You”, both presented in acoustic and electric versions.  Listening to those excellent pieces of art makes me such a proud fan of Def Leppard. “Miss You in a Heartbeat”, especially, is one in a lifetime kind of song – memorable and easy to sing with chorus, heartbreaking lyrics and an unmatchable classy aura. I have always been entranced by Joe’s vocals on this track. “She’s too Tough”, originally released on the “Heaven Is” single (1993) is such a delightful surprise and definitely my favorite moment of “Retro Active”. Energizing and empowering, the track is definitely something to anticipate as you go from start to finish. Playful, even sexy lyrics that generate an immediate visual in your mind, which is one of the reasons why I love Def Leppard so much – they tell a story with their music and make things so much more interesting. Kicking things off gently and then quickly teleporting us to a pure solid hard rock realm, “I Wanna Be Your Hero” is another groundbreaking point. On “Retro Active”, you get to find tons of other deserving rockers, such as the covers “Action” (Sweet) and “Only After Dark” (Mick Ronson). The mind-blowing first two opening tracks “Desert Song” and “Fractured Love”, both from Hysteria sessions, are bringing us back to Def Leppard’s early raw roots. The epic “Ride into the Sun” is another personal favorite of mine, probably due to the long history it carries with it – the track was actually featured on Def Leppard’s first ever self-produced EP, released back in 1979 before it was rerecorded in 1987 as a B-side to the “Hysteria” single. “Retro Active” wraps things up with a hidden track – a tender piano version of “Miss You in a Heartbeat”. Leaving us absolutely speechless, you can’t but go on the “Retro Active” journey once again, after the final song is over; the feeling is just that strong!

This album is for everyone, though I do believe that die-hard fans of Def Leppard would enjoy it much more than everyone else. The collection of songs offers a little something for all the rock souls out there – from attractive hard rockers to sentimental ballads, “Retro Active” provides you with the ultimate Def Leppard experience. The album is important also because it’s a final farewell to Steve Clark, the irreplaceable force, without which the band wouldn’t have reached such heights. Grab a copy and enjoy the superb production and quality of this record. Definitely in my top 5 Def Leppard albums! That should tell you something!


Tracklist:

“Desert Song” (Steve Clark, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage)
Outtake from the Hysteria album sessions (1984–87)

“Fractured Love” (Clark, Elliott, Savage) – 5:08
Outtake from the Hysteria album sessions

“Action” (Andy Scott, Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Mick Tucker)
Original version released on the “Make Love Like a Man” single (1992)

“Two Steps Behind” (Acoustic version) (Elliott)
Original version released on the “Make Love Like a Man” single
Originally released on the Last Action Hero soundtrack (1993)

“She’s Too Tough” (Elliott)
Original version released on the “Heaven Is” single (1993) and is the bonus track for the Japanese pressing of Adrenalize (1992)

“Miss You in a Heartbeat” (Phil Collen)
Original version released on the “Make Love Like a Man” single

“Only After Dark” (Mick Ronson, Scott Richardson)
Original version released on the “Let’s Get Rocked” single (1992)

“Ride into the Sun” (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Savage)
Original version released on the “Hysteria” single (1987)
First recording of the song released on The Def Leppard E.P. (1979)

“From the Inside” (Elliott)
Originally released on the “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single

“Ring of Fire” (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Savage)
Original version released on the “Armageddon It” single (1988)

“I Wanna Be Your Hero” (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange, Savage)
Original version released on the “Hysteria” single

“Miss You in a Heartbeat” (Electric version) (Collen)
This was the Japanese bonus track for Adrenalize

“Two Steps Behind” (Electric version) (Elliott)

“Miss You in a Heartbeat” (Piano version) (Hidden track)) (Collen)

She’s Too Tough

Miss You In A Heartbeat

I Wanna Be Your Hero

Action

Two Steps Behind

Desert Song


References:
“Retro Active” Official Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retro_Active
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

4 thoughts on “’90S ROCK BLAST: DEF LEPPARD – RETRO ACTIVE

  1. Hi Velina,
    Overdue for a comment.
    Retroactive……..what a cool collection of songs….B-sides from Hysteria and Adrenalize, some new tracks, cover songs delivered in the Def Leppard way.
    I find this a really enjoyable album and would rank this higher in the Leppard list than the other 90s albums Adrenalize and Euphoria (and a couple of others from other decades). (Not sure on Slang for the other 90s album but I don’t mind being spoilt for choice).
    I remember finding out back around mid 93 that this collection was being released later in the year. So happy as I had waited so long between Hysteria and Adrenalize. Though I first heard Leppard late 87 and got Hysteria in 88 I knew naturally about the 4.5 year gap from Pyromania. Then Adrenalize took a bit longer than that. Wow. Hysteria was released my first year of high school….Adrenalize came out the year after I finished high school. Talk about waiting. To find out Retroactive was coming out 18 months after Adrenalize almost felt like a blessing.
    And such diversity in this collection ranging from rockers like the one-two punch of opening tracks Desert Song and Fractured Love through Two Steps Behind (what a classic song to promote this album) From The Inside….really the list goes on. The quality of these songs, for some other bands would make up original albums, not for Def Leppard though.
    Always a pleasure putting this album on. It is indeed a rock festival!
    Cheers
    Ian

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    1. IAN!!!! I am so happy to see you here on my blog again! I wasn’t even surprised – I know that if I post something about DL you will be there to support it! DL fans, we are so united haha…
      Thank you for sharing your experiences and memories, always such a pleasure to read your comments!
      One thing I forgot to mention on my overview though – the gorgeous cover!!!! I love it so much….
      BTW, I don’t know if I have ever told you but “She’s too tough” is one of my all time fav DL tunes and one of the first songs I heard of them actually…back when I had no idea what Hysteria or Pyromania or Retro Active was haha
      Cheers! Thank you for the awesome comment!!

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      1. Velina!!!
        You like She’s Too Tough? Really?……
        Yes I have received that piece of information on a couple of occasions…;-)
        I like the cover too….the looking back in the mirror (retrospectively?) but from another angle it sometimes looks like something completely different.
        On that, I read just recently Phil Collen was saying the album cover cost more to design than the recording of Retro Active because they had most of the songs ready to go and didn’t painstakingly record everything 20 times….:-) 😉 (maybe he was exaggerating a little)
        That’s unusual for the Lepps.
        Cheers!
        Ian

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  2. I’m proud to say that my fellow Canadian, award-winning graphic artist, Hugh Syme is credited for the album’s art direction & design and digital illustration. He co-designed the cover with Nels Israelson who did the cover photography. Hugh has also done many of Rush’s albums, along with albums from Whitesnake, Survivor, and Great White, just to name a few.

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