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DEF LEPPARD's JOE ELLIOTT looks back on dueting with his younger self on 'drastic symphonies' album: 'it was like singing with a ghost that's still alive'


May 2023 will see rock and classical royalty unite on a brand-new euphoric album titled “Drastic Symphonies” — DEF LEPPARD‘s greatest produced tracks dramatically reimagined and sounding larger and more exhilarating than ever before, teamed with London’s iconic Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

DEF LEPPARD have deconstructed and rebuilt not only some of their most well-known tracks but also some of their hidden gems as well. By and large, they have intertwined the audio from the original tapes and performed them alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The album includes new vocals and guitars which culminates in stunningly beautiful symphonic arrangements. At different points you can hear vocalist Joe Elliott dueting with his younger self.

Asked by BBC Radio 2‘s “The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show”how the “Drastic Symphonies” project came about, Elliott said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “We first discussed this — it was put on our plate by some grownups about four years ago. And, obviously, because we were touring, we were sidetracked. And then with the COVID, we did the new record (2022’s ‘Diamond Star Halos’)… It’s only nine months ago now that it came out. We were actually under the radar. We were in Abbey Road recording this record without telling anybody. So we had it ready to go the following year, which is now.”


The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was recorded at Abbey Road in March 2022. Produced by DEF LEPPARDRonan McHugh and Nick Patrick (producer of the following RPO/orchestral albums — ElvisRoy OrbisonBEACH BOYS and Buddy Holly) with arrangements by Eric Gorfain (Neil DiamondRyan AdamsChristina Aguilera).

Joe told “The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show”: “What we’ve done is we’ve reworked 16 of our most symphonic songs and done them with the Royal Philharmonic. We wanted to make sure that everybody knows this is not just the records from the past with an orchestra chucked on the top like icing on a cake. We took these songs all the way back to the beginning. I re-sang some of them, because the original vocals were out of place once you put an orchestra on it. So on one of the tunes, which is a song called ‘Too Late For Love’, I did a duet with myself from 40 years ago. It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done. But it was great fun. The timing and the phrasing came to me instantly — it’s like it never left my DNA — but it was one of the strangest things I’ve ever done. It was like singing with a ghost that’s still alive, if that makes any sense.”

Elliott added: “Yeah, it turned out really, really well. We’re very happy with it. And to be putting out this record only nine months after ‘Diamond Star Halos’, it just shows there’s a forward momentum, not just from a touring point of view, but from a career point of view. We are always looking to just keep moving forward and doing something different.”

Track listing:

  1. Turn To Dust
    02. Paper Sun
    03. Animal
    04. Pour Some Sugar On Me (Stripped Version)
    05. Hysteria
    06. Love Bites
    07. Goodbye For Good This Time
    08. Love
    09. Gods Of War
    10. Angels (Can’t Help You Now)
    11. Bringin’ On The Heartbreak
    12. Switch 625
    13. Too Late For Love
    14. When Love & Hate Collide
    15. Kings Of The World

Atmos version will also feature a bonus track.

When “Drastic Symphonies” was first announced earlier in the month, Elliott said in a statement: “DEF LEPPARD has always enjoyed veering off the expected path — working with the likes of Tim McGrawTaylor Swift and Alison Krauss, for example. So, when the offer to revisit some of our back catalogue with the Royal Philharmonic was presented to us, to a man we all jumped at it. Although we’re far from the first band to ever do this, working directly with an orchestra at Abbey Road on some of our more orchestrated songs seemed too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

DEF LEPPARD guitarist Phil Collen added: “When the offer of doing an orchestral album with the RPO was suggested, we were honored. But we didn’t just want an orchestra plonked over our previous recordings. We decided to create something special where we would have something classic but present it in a brand new way that would involve making everything work in the context of ‘Drastic Symphonies’. Recording new parts, remixing previous sounds, taking some of our instruments out so the orchestra could breathe and literally making a new album. It was an amazingly inspirational process culminating in the live recording of the RPO at Abbey Road studios in London. An absolute team effort that took a good part of a year. It’s a new DEF LEPPARD album, it’s a greatest-hits-plus album, with some rarely heard songs, it’s a live RPO album and we think it’s perfect. We’re so proud of how ‘Drastic Symphonies’ turned out and can’t wait to share it to the world.”

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