Def Leppard’s 1980 debut, On Through The Night, effectively captured the band’s confident initial strides on a remarkable journey which has led to over 100 million record sales worldwide and induction into the hallowed Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
The deal that led to On Through The Night’s release, on March 14, 1980, came through Def Leppard’s connection with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. First coined by Sounds journalist Geoff Barton in May 1979, the NWOBHM banner collectivized a group of fast-rising, grassroots-level UK rock acts (also including Iron Maiden, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Saxon, and Diamond Head) whose sound reflected their love of classic 70s hard rock outfits such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Thin Lizzy, but infused it with the energy and vitality of punk.
Though lacking the poise and sophistication of their legend-enshrining later albums, the brash On Through The Night still has plenty to recommend it. Adrenalized, hook-stuffed anthems such as “Wasted,” “Rock Brigade,” “It Could Be You” and re-recorded EP highlight ‘Rocks Off’ showed how deftly the band’s bristling rock sound embraced the three-minute pop format, while “Hello America” – with its layered, Queen-esque vocal arrangement – and the complex, Rush-style epic “Overture” proved Joe Elliott and the troops were no strangers to ambition. Perhaps most decisively, the cinematic “Sorrow Is A Woman” drew up the blueprint for future smoldering rock ballads such as “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak” and “Love Bites” which would later help launch Def Leppard on the international stage.