The vintage Def LeppardHysteria T-shirt I often sport (to the derision of friends) isn't an ironic fashion statement; it's a show of solidarity for one of the most underrated U.K. bands of the 1980s. Although frequently dismissed as lame arena behemoths because of their many bombastic anthems (take your pick from "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Animal," "Hysteria," etc.), the guys in Def Leppard have more in common with ostentatious glam rockers than they do with hair farmers. In fact, their excellent new covers album, Yeah!, emphasizes these glitter-crunch roots with a wink and a swagger, thanks to faithful versions of hits by T. Rex, Roxy Music and Sweet (the latter complete with shrieks from Darkness vocalist Justin Hawkins). Even more revealing is a peppy take on the Blondie/Nerves thrash-up "Hanging on the Telephone" and a honeyed version of the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset," both of which reveal a little-heard, pure-pop side to the band. "[Some people] think that we grew up on Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and stuff," vocalist Joe Elliott told me last year. "It's like, 'No, we like them, we respect them but they weren't our main reason for wanting to do [music].'" As for Journey, well vocalist Steve Augeri came down with a throat infection and had to be replaced with Jeff Scott Soto. But he's still not Steve Perry, so we're still not interested.
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