Def Leppard Joins Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on ‘Drastic Symphonies’

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Elvis, Aretha, Rod, and the Beach Boys have seen their music reimagined with London’s iconic Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. And now, many of Def Leppard’s most well-known tracks, will sound “more exhilarating than ever before.” A new album, Drastic Symphonies, will see “rock and classical royalty unite.” It arrives on May 16, 2023, via Universal Music’s Mercury Records. Listen to the first release, “Animal,” below.

From the March 16 announcement: This album represents a bold new approach to Def Leppard’s most loved songs. 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, consistently ranked as one of the world’s leading orchestras. The album additionally includes new vocals and guitars that culminate in stunningly beautiful symphonic arrangements, which at different points you can hear vocalist Joe Elliott duetting with his younger self.

Elliott says, “Def Leppard has always enjoyed veering off the expected path – working with the likes of Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Alison Krauss, for example. So, when the offer to revisit some of our back catalog with the Royal Philharmonic was presented to us, 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.”

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was recorded at Abbey Road in March 2022 and is produced by Def Leppard, Ronan McHugh and Nick Patrick (producer of the RPO collaborations with Presley, Roy Orbison, Beach Boys and Buddy Holly), with arrangements by Eric Gorfain (Neil Diamond, Ryan Adams, Christina Aguilera).

Guitarist Phil Collen adds, “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. 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 songs rarely heard before, it’s a live RPO album and we think it’s perfect.”

In addition, a new book, Def Leppard, Definitely: The Official Story of Def Leppard, previously announced as a limited edition release, will also be available as a hardback edition on May 9, via Genesis Publications. The book is part memoir, part scrapbook, chronicling the band’s story through hundreds of archival photographs in recording studios, at promo shoots, on tour in planes, trains, cars and Holiday Inns, backstage and on stage.

Every member’s voice is present within the book including Elliott, Collen, Rick Savage (bass and vocals), Rick Allen (drums), Vivian Campbell (guitar and vocals), Tony Kenning (drums), Pete Willis (guitar) and Steve Clark (guitar).

Def Leppard are on a world tour this year. Tickets are available here and here.

The album tracklist is below the Amazon links.

Drastic Symphonies Tracklist
Turn To Dust
Paper Sun
Pour Some Sugar on Me (Stripped version)
Love Bites
Goodbye For Good This Time
Gods Of War
Angels (Can’t Help You Now)
Bringin’ On the Heartbreak
Switch 625
Too Late for Love
When Love & Hate Collide
Kings Of the World

The vinyl and Atmos versions feature an exclusive bonus track, “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad.”

Related: 10 things you might not know about Def Leppard

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