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Def Leppard Do Covermania

British rockers record glam classics for "Yeah!"

January 5, 2006 12:00 AM ET

After a nonstop 2005 — marked by a twenty-fifth-anniversary hits compilation, a slew of TV appearances and tours with Bryan Adams and Cheap Trick — Def Leppard have no plans of stopping. This spring will bring a covers album, Yeah!, followed by a summer tour.

For Yeah!, the Eighties mega-rockers plan to reach back into music history for over-the-top favorites that predate the band. "I saw Marc Bolan and T. Rex in 1971 on Top of the Pops," Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell recalls, "and [singer] Joe [Elliott] has the same memory. I was nine years old, and I knew I wanted to play guitar. So most of the songs come from the glam era: T. Rex, Roxy Music, E.L.O."

While the album will include renditions of E.L.O.'s "10538 Overture" and Roxy Music's "Street Life" — which Campbell says the band recorded "as more of a punk-rock song" — expect more straight-up rockers, like Thin Lizzy's "Don't Believe a Word," as well as some melodic material, like the Kinks classic "Waterloo Sunset." "But we really made it sound like Def Leppard," Campbell says of the Kinks track. "Joe does a great vocal, and we made the guitar parts work."

After a summer tour, likely to launch in June, Def Leppard plan to get to work on a new studio album, due in 2007. "We've really tried to gather ideas on the road this last summer," Campbell explains.

Meanwhile, the guitarist has further kept himself busy this year with the release of his first solo album, Two Sides of If — a blues-flavored collection of covers that finds him taking the mike for the first time. "Blues as a genre works well for me, because it can accommodate me as a guitar player as well as a singer," he explains.

But while a solo project has long been a mission for Campbell, there's no chance of him quitting the band he joined some 13 years ago. "I did this record because I wanted to and I could," he says. "I don't desire to be the point guy. I prefer being a team guy — if it's the right team."

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