Retro Active is a compilation album by the English rock band Def Leppard, released in 1993. The album features touched-up versions of B-sides and previously unreleased recordings from the band's recording sessions from 1984 to 1993. The album charted at number 9 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart.
|Compilation album of B-side singles by|
|Released||5 October 1993|
|Recorded||February 1984 – June 1993 at Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum, Netherlands, Rainbow Studios and Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany, Bow Lane Studios and Joe's Garage in Dublin, Ireland|
|Def Leppard chronology|
|Singles from Retro Active|
After releasing only five albums over the course of a twelve-year period, Def Leppard used Retro Active to break that habit, provide a treat for diehard fans, and close the door on the "Steve Clark" era of the band. Many of the tracks had previously been released as single B-sides.
According to singer Joe Elliott, the concept behind the album was envisioned after the success of the "Two Steps Behind" single. The song had originally been demoed solely by Elliott as an electric version in 1989, and was subsequently recorded by the band as an acoustic ballad at the suggestion of guitarist Phil Collen. When the producers of the film Last Action Hero contacted the band in 1993 to provide a new song for the soundtrack, the band were unable to record new material due to touring schedules and instead sent over the multitrack tape of the acoustic version of "Two Steps Behind", which was given strings by conductor Michael Kamen in April 1993 and included onto the film soundtrack. It would become the band's last Top 20 single in the US, reaching No. 12, and inspired the band to put the album together and re-record the electric version of the song.
"She's Too Tough" and the electric version of "Miss You in a Heartbeat" were both B-sides included as bonus tracks on Japanese pressings of Adrenalize. Written in 1985, "She's Too Tough" first appeared on the Helix album Wild in the Streets in 1987. "Miss You in a Heartbeat", meanwhile, was first written and demoed by guitarist Collen in 1991 and was originally recorded by the Law, a band featuring Paul Rodgers and the Who drummer Kenney Jones, for their self-titled album in 1991. Def Leppard later recorded their own version in April the following year, which they released as a B-side on the "Make Love Like a Man" single. After the band had recorded the new vocal, bass and drum parts for the electric version of the song, Collen overheard Elliott experimenting with the song on a piano. This led Elliott to record a piano and vocal version of the song, after which Collen, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen added acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar and drum parts in June 1993, creating the acoustic version that would be released as a single.
Two unfinished songs from the Hysteria recording sessions, "Desert Song" and "Fractured Love", were completed exclusively for the album. The album also features several covers, namely Sweet's "Action" (which charted higher than the original in the UK) and Mick Ronson's "Only After Dark".
The version of "Ride into the Sun" on the compilation is not the same as that which appeared on The Def Leppard E.P., but rather the 1987 re-recording. It differs slightly from the original B-side from the Hysteria era; the B-side featured a Rick Allen drum solo intro, whereas the version on Retro Active has a piano intro provided by Ian Hunter.
Retro Active features a hidden (final) track: a piano/vocal version of "Miss You in a Heartbeat", which also features an alternate acoustic guitar solo by Collen.
This is the first Def Leppard album to feature songs recorded with newly added guitarist Vivian Campbell.
The album saw the release of six singles, three of which were released commercially: Two Steps Behind, Miss You In A Heartbeat and Action (all three appeared on the 'Make Love Like A Man' single in one form or another). Specifically released for radio promotion only were: Desert Song, She's Too Tough and From The Inside. Desert Song was the only track released that didn't have a prior release as a b-side. Artwork was produced by the From The Inside radio single which was quite unusual.
The album cover, by Nels Israelson and Hugh Syme, is a photograph of a lady sitting at a dressing table, looking in a mirror. However, if the cover is viewed at arm's length or from a distance, it takes the form of a skull (a type of vanitas art), the woman's head forming the left eye socket, and her reflected head in the mirror forming the right eye socket. The mirror itself forms the shape of the skull and the accessories on the dressing table form the nose, nostrils and teeth. It was inspired by Charles Allan Gilbert's most famous work, All Is Vanity (1892). An alternate version of the album cover exists, only released for promotional use. The only difference is the Def Leppard' logo is represented in the most traditional style seen on 'Pyromania', 'Hysteria' and 'Adrenalize'. The band felt that given Retro Active's sonically darker tone, that it would be best to shelve the bright colours of the logo.
- "Desert Song" (Steve Clark, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage) – 5:19
- "Fractured Love" (Clark, Elliott, Savage) – 5:08
- Outtake from the Hysteria album sessions
- "Action" (Andy Scott, Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Mick Tucker) – 3:41
- Originally released on the "Make Love Like a Man" single (1992)
- "Two Steps Behind" (Acoustic version) (Elliott) – 4:16
- Originally released on the "Make Love Like a Man" single
- "She's Too Tough" (Elliott) – 3:41
- "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (Phil Collen) – 4:04
- Originally released on the "Make Love Like a Man" single
- "Only After Dark" (Mick Ronson, Scott Richardson) – 3:52
- Originally released on the "Let's Get Rocked" single (1992)
- "Ride into the Sun" (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Savage) – 3:12
- "From the Inside" (Elliott) – 4:13
- Originally released on the "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" single
- "Ring of Fire" (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Savage) – 4:42
- "I Wanna Be Your Hero" (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange, Savage) – 4:29
- "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (Electric version) (Collen) – 4:58
- Originally released on the "Make Love Like a Man" single, and as bonus track on Japanese pressing of Adrenalize (1992)
- "Two Steps Behind" (Electric version) (Elliott) – 4:29
- "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (Piano version) (Hidden track) (Collen) – 4:09
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||25,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Rick Allen – drums
- Vivian Campbell – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Steve Clark – electric guitars
- Phil Collen – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Joe Elliott – lead vocals, backing vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, jungle orchestra on "Fractured Love"
- Rick Savage – bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, rhythm guitar on “Ring of Fire”
- Ian Hunter – honky tonk messiah on "Ride into the Sun"
- Michael Kamen – string arrangement on "Two Steps Behind" (Acoustic Version)
- Robert John "Mutt" Lange – backing vocals
- Fiachna Ó Braonáin – tin whistle on "From the Inside"
- Liam Ó Maonlaí – grand piano on "From the Inside"
- Peter O'Toole – mandolin on "From the Inside"
- P.J. Smith – backing vocals on "Action"
- Pete Woodroffe – piano on "Miss You in a Heartbeat"
- Def Leppard – producer
- Pete Woodroffe – engineer, mixing
- Janfred Arendsen – engineer
- Albert Boekholt – engineer
- Giles Cowley – mixing
- Freek Feenstra – engineer
- Nigel Green – engineer
- Steve McGaughlin – engineer
- Erwin Musper – engineer
- Nial O'Sullivan – mixing
- Ronald Prent – engineer
- Robert Scovill – engineer
- Mike Shipley – engineer
- Allmusic review
- Rolling Stone review
- Sputnik Music review
- "Def Leppard: Retro Active (Album Anniversary) - A Look Back". Def Leppard Report. 6 October 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
- "Allmusic (Def Leppard charts and awards) Billboard albums".
- "Def Leppard The Official Charts Company".
- "Canadian album certifications – Def Leppard – Retro Active". Music Canada. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Def Leppard; 'Retro Active')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "American album certifications – Def Leppard – Retro Active". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 24 April 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.