How “Message In A Bottle” Inspired A Classic Def Leppard Song
via Rock Remastered / Youtube
Def Leppard’s musical influences extended beyond hard rock, incorporating elements of British pop from their teenage years. Their breakthrough album, Hysteria, aimed to surpass their previous work and stand alongside iconic pop albums like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Among the album’s tracks, “Gods of War” emerged as a fan favorite. It was one of the band’s rare political songs, inspired by news of conflicts, such as the rivalry between Russia and the United States. The lyrics questioned the use of destructive bombs and the reasons behind their deployment.
To capture the song’s grand scope, Def Leppard utilized the talents of lead guitarists Phil Collen and Steve Clark. Collen highlighted Clark’s ability to spontaneously generate great songs, with the main guitar lick originating as a live showcase by Clark. Collen described their collaborative process, breaking down the riff into different parts, where one person played power chords while the other centered the riff around The Police’s “Message in a Bottle.” Clark had a knack for incorporating familiar elements in a way that sounded uniquely Def Leppard.
Clark’s contribution to songwriting often involved creating musical pieces rather than complete songs. These fragments would impress producer Mutt Lange, such as the memorable intro to “Gods of War.” The band also drew inspiration from other classic rock acts, as evidenced by the Pink Floyd-influenced guitar picking in the song’s outro, reminiscent of “Goodbye Blue Sky” from The Wall.
The final result was one of Def Leppard’s most ambitious songs, featuring simulated radio sounds to evoke the impact of bombing attacks. While the band was not known for delivering political messages, their music ventured beyond mere rock anthems. With their diverse influences and thoughtful themes, Def Leppard demonstrated their versatility and willingness to explore deeper subjects.