The Def Leppard classic that the band initially hated: “I still get shudders”

Def Leppard probably couldn’t be more associated with rock unless they had a big backdrop of the word come out every time they played. From the first time they started playing to the fact that they have the word so prominently in every one of their major hits, there aren’t many times that the hard rock icons weren’t talking about their love for their favourite genre of music. So when their producer brought in the makings of the song ‘Love Bites’, no one was really looking to get on board.

If anyone got in the way of a producer like Mutt Lange wanted to do, chances are they would be considered extremely out of touch. This was the same guy who worked his magic for everyone from Foreigner to AC/DC on Back in Black, and because of it, Lange seemed to possess a strange sixth sense as a producer — he was a man who instinctively knew what people wanted to hear.

That usually came with hardship, though, leading to Leppard playing songs repeatedly until they played them as perfectly as humanly possible. Lange wasn’t initially available to produce the album Hysteria, but his need to see the album through made him offer up ‘Love Bites’ as a country-style track.

Since Leppard wouldn’t be caught dead going down the easy listening route so quickly, the band added their signature guitars to the mix, making it sound like The Police crossed with Queen. There’s a way for any producer to put their stamp on the record, and the song is bookended by strange vocoder passages sung by Lange himself.

According to Joe Elliott, the band absolutely hated it, saying, “We hated it. We said, ‘No, I’m not doing that.’ Sometimes, we go for a coffee, and when we come back, Mutt says, ‘I’ve done this thing. So, what do you think?… I still get the shudders when I think about it.”

Although ‘Love Bites’ is already a melodramatic piece, having this kind of ghostly voice seems to hit a wrong note half the time. This is supposed to be a song about the heartache that comes with being in a relationship that you don’t like, so why is this sexualised robot suddenly warning us of the dangers of human connection?

For all of the band’s protesting, the producer kept some of the pieces in the album, using just a handful of words sprinkled in the background. If anything, these kinds of sound effects were better suited to almost any other song on the record, like the weird warping sounds going on in ‘Rocket’ or the sound of news coverage on ‘Gods of War’.

That kind of freedom Lange had in the studio wouldn’t come until a few years later. Even though they may have crushed his dream of making a Don Henley style of song, his turn as a producer for country legend Shania Twain led to him getting his musical spurs on for her legendary albums like Come On Over. There’s always a point where a producer crosses a certain line, and Def Leppard wasn’t going to let the robotic sounds overtake their sensitive side.

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