Def Leppard have re-recorded their greatest hits with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: listen to the striking new orchestral version of Animal

Def Leppard studio portrait
(Image credit: Bludgeon Riffola)

Def Leppard have teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to record re-imagined versions of some of their best known songs for a new album, Drastic Symphonies, to be released on May 19.

The first taste of this creative union comes with the release today, March 16, of a striking new take on Animal, the first single to be lifted from their phenomenally successful 1987 album Hysteria

A press statement about the project reads, '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.  The album includes new vocals and guitars which culminates in stunningly beautiful symphonic arrangements. At different points you can hear Joe Elliott duetting with his younger self.'

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

"When the offer of doing an orchestral album with the RPO was suggested we were honoured," adds guitarist Phil Collen. "But we didn’t just want an orchestra plonked over our previous recordings. 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 at Abbey Road studios in London. 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 rarely heard songs, it’s a live RPO album and we think it’s perfect. We’re so proud of how Drastic Symphonies turned out and can’t wait to share it to the world.”

Drastic Symphonies will be available on CD, 2LP black vinyl, limited 2LP coloured vinyl, limited 2LP picture disc, CD/Blu-Ray (Atmos) and digitally. Listen to the new version of Animal below:

Def Leppard: Drastic Symphonies tracklist

1. Turn To Dust
2. Paper Sun
3. Animal
4. Pour Some Sugar on Me (Stripped version)
5. Hysteria
6. Love Bites
7. Goodbye For Good This Time
8. Love 
9. Gods Of War
10. Angels (Can’t Help You Now)
11. Bringin’ On the Heartbreak
12. Switch 625
13. Too Late for Love
14. When Love & Hate Collide
15. Kings Of the World
The vinyl and Atmos versions will feature an exclusive bonus track, Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad.

Def Leppard will launch the European leg of their hugely successful Stadium Tour with Motley Crue on May 22, in their hometown of Sheffield. The North American leg of the tour sold over 1.3 million tickets.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.