I actually ‘rediscovered’ this album; Def Leppard’s Pyromania was the first cassette I ever bought, shortly after its release (and shortly after my 13th birthday), and while I loved it, my tastes soon turned to things heavier. Years later, a friend was playing his beat-up cassette copy of High’n'Dry and I was absolutely floored. This is, from start to finish, a brilliant album, and like their debut On Through the Night, shows a very young and unpretentious band wanting to do nothing more than emulate and build on what bands like UFO, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC had done before them. That said, I think the AC/DC comparisons are a bit overblown; obviously, they were an influence and they did share a producer, but AC/DC, as much as I love them, could never match Def Leppard’s subtlety or sense of melody. Anyway, the production on this album is very full and clean, yet manages to retain the young band’s rawness and energy – note the guitar feedback during the intro to ‘Let It Go’, and the shouted 3-count between the bridge and last chorus of ‘Another Hit and Run’. High’n'Dry is unique in that it was written and recorded before the 80’s hard rock/pop-metal formula had been firmly established, and in fact helped define it. As such, while this album contains all the recognizable elements that came to define the genre, it also covers a lot more ground musically than what was to follow in its footsteps. Not being a fan of Def Leppard’s post-Pyromania releases, I don’t know that I can really recommend it to fans of their later work, but to any fans of late-70’s/early-80’s hard rock who somehow have managed to not yet hear this in the 26 years since its release, do yourself a favor and get this now!
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Having gone to high school in the eighties, this is one of the most influential hard rock albums of the decade. This album was responsible for me buying a destroyer guitar. Personally, this album is more raw and more powerful than Pyromania. Pyromania is a great album, but written more for the radio. High n Dry is just pure power from a bunch of young guys with a hunger to make it. Trust me, buy this CD, play it in your car stereo, turn it up to 10 and drive on the highway!!!
There was a time, long, long ago when Def Leppard rocked. By listening to the band’s musical out-put for the last fifteen years, it may be hard to believe that, but it’s true. Early on, before “Let’s Get Rocked,” before touring with Bryan Adams and Journey, before making adult-contemporary soft-rock with the stink-bomb “X,” (2002) there was a time when Def Leppard was genuinely a great rock band.
Released at the start of a new decade, the Judas Priest sounding debut from Def Leppard, ‘”On through the Night,” (1980) may not have been the most original album of all-time, but it’s still a great little-known gem in the chronicles of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal). For their sophomore release, the band hooked-up with its unofficial sixth member, long-time Def Leppard collaborator and producer, John “Mutt” Lange. Released a year after the debut, Def Leppard’s second album “High N’ Dry” (1981) has some of the same NWOBHM elements that were on the “On though the Night, but also sees the band establishing its own identity and searching out new terrain.
AC/DC’s monumental album “Back in Black” (1980) no doubt had an influence on Def Leppard’s “High N’ Dry.” From singer Joe Elliot’s attempts to sound like Brian Johnson, to guitarists Steve Clarke and Pete Willis attempts to imitate the Young brothers, “High N’ Dry” sounds a lot like AC/DC. This isn’t so surprising when you consider the fact that Lange produced “Back in Black.” That said, the seeds of Def Leppard’s signature sound that is so apparent on “Pyromania” (1983) and “Hysteria,” (1987) like the melodic sing-along choruses and metallic yet infectious hooks, make their appearance on “High N’ Dry.” In a sense “High N’ Dry” can be seen as the album that bridged the gap between Def Leppard’s NWOBHM years, apparent on their debut, to their definitive pop-metal heyday of “Pyromania” and “Hysteria.”
The band’s early line-up on their first three albums was by far the best. Sorry Phil Collin (and Vivian Campbell), but the Pete Willis/Steve Clarke combo were by far the finest duel-guitarists that the band ever had. Their riffs and solos throughout the album are just plain killer, easily as good as anything AC/DC had to offer (is it blasphemy to hold that opinion?). It should be noted that apart from “Hit and Run,” every song on “High N’ Dry” was co-penned by either Clarke and/or Willis. With both long since gone (Willis was fired in ‘83 and Clarke died in ‘91) it’s easy to see how the band has suffered creatively ever since. The songwriting throughout the whole disc is terrific, with very well-crafted but hard-rocking songs, one after the other, without a dud in the lot. Even the album’s one balled “Bringing on the Heartbreak” sounds great and is light-years better than the syrupy trash that made up the band’s most recent steaming-pile of manure, abomination of an album “X.”
Another great feature of “High N’ Dry” is its organic sound. While the band may be most well known for their ultra-slick “Hysteria,” on “High N’ Dry” the band sounds a lot rawer, much more rough-around-the edges and a lot more ballsy than they would on later albums (“Pyromania” can be seen as a mid-way point between the two).
“High N’ Dry” is also great simply because the band wants to rock. Def Leppard at this point in their career were hungry and eager to prove to the world that they kicked ass, and they did. Don’t believe Joe Elliot when he tells you that Def Leppard were always really a pop band at heart, not a metal one, that just isn’t true. While there is a clear pop-sensibility to “High N’ Dry” it most definitely has a metallic edge and a lot of balls.
When I think of Def Leppard, I think of the group existing as two separate entities. First, there is the Def Leppard of the 80s, a great rock band who put out four terrific albums, even if they did get a little too commercial towards the end. And second there is the Def Leppard of the 90s/00s, an embarrassment; a band for soccer moms, the less said about the better.
So even if Def Leppard has sucked beyond belief for years, go back in time with “High N’ Dry,” and rock out to an album from a once really great band.
This is Def Leppard’s best album, and that is saying a lot. “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” are two of the best recordings ever put on tape, but High ‘N’ Dry is better. Nearly 20 years after its original release, it still sounds as fresh as the day it came out.”High ‘N’ Dry” isn’t quite as polished as Lep’s later stuff. There’s fewer synths, and the production’s not as strong. Once you hear it, you’ll quickly realize that this is a good thing. It lays the raw power of Def Leppard bare, and the listener quickly notices that these guys are even more capable than “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” would indicate.There simply isn’t a bad or even a mediocre song on this album. No filler here for sure. Any one of the tracks on “High ‘N’ Dry” would justify the price of the CD. “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak” set the standard for power ballads, and in my opinion has yet to be topped by anybody. The title track, “Let It Go,” “Another Hit And Run,” “You Got Me Running,” and “Lady Strange,” however, show that there is a lot more to “High ‘N’ Dry” than “Heartbreak.” These songs rock like nobody’s business. It’s a real shame that Joe Elliot and the guys have pretty much disowned this album except for “Heartbreak”. If they were to make a new album that even came close to “High ‘N’ Dry,” they’d attract a whole new generation of fans in short order.The CD and later LP versions add two bonus tracks, a remix of “Heartbreak” and “Me And My Wine,” that weren’t on the original LP release in 1981. The original “Heartbreak” is the better of the two, but the remix and “Me And My Wine” are still a plus. As if there wasn’t plenty there already.If you don’t have this album, buy it now. If you have it on LP or cassette, this one’s well worth upgrading to CD. This is truly a landmark recording, and is not to be missed.
This ‘raw’ CD of the Lep is their finest – before being glossed into a commercial heavy metal machine. Mind you, I love Pyromainia and Hysteria, but that is about it… This CD captures all of their early raw energy; combined with ‘On through the Night’, this is Lep’s finest moment – and the Vault CD totally dismissed most of this and their debut!This album was a permanent fixture in my first car (as a tape, of course), and I never tired of the sheer energy that was on ‘High and Dry’ – in fact, I only wished that other bands would follow suit! ‘Let it Go’ and ‘Another Hit and Run’ still make me long for that kind of stuff today. (…) This CD was good old ‘feeling good’ rock and roll with a heavy induction of pep and guitars by the Lep.Lep fans – this is a MUST – for all others, you must check this out keeping in mind that this is good old 70’s hard rock, not the Lep stuff that followed…