Retro Active

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This article is about the Def Leppard album. For other uses, see Retroactive (disambiguation).
Retro Active
Compilation album by Def Leppard
Released 5 October 1993 (1993-10-05)
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
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal,[1] glam metal
Length 56:04
Label Mercury
Producer Def Leppard
Def Leppard chronology
Live: In the Clubs, in Your Face
Retro Active
Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980–1995)
Singles from Retro Active
  1. "Two Steps Behind"
    Released: September 1993
  2. "Desert Song"
    Released: October 1993 (US, rock formats)
  3. "Miss You in a Heartbeat"
    Released: December 1993 (North America)
  4. "Action"
    Released: January 1994 (Europe)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[3]
Sputnik Music 3.5/5 stars[4]

Retro Active is an album by English hard 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 between 1984 and 1993. The album charted at number 9 on The Billboard 200[5] and No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart.[6]


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. It reached platinum sales in many countries.[citation needed]

Although many tracks were found on single releases, some parts were re-recorded on the road during the Adrenalize tour.

"She's Too Tough" and the electric version of "Miss You in a Heartbeat" were originally released as bonus tracks for the Japanese pressing of Adrenalize. Originally written in 1985, it first appeared on the Helix album Wild in the Streets in 1987.[7]

Two unfinished songs from the Hysteria recording sessions, "Desert Song" and "Fractured Love", were completed exclusively for the album. "Two Steps Behind", an acoustic ballad originally recorded in electric version, was given strings by conductor Michael Kamen and included onto the Last Action Hero soundtrack. It would become the band's last Top 20 single in the US, reaching No. 12.

The album also had covers, Sweet's "Action" (which charted higher than the original in the UK) and Mick Ronson's "Only After Dark". Although guitarist Phil Collen had written "Miss You in a Heartbeat", it was released first on the self-titled 1991 debut by The Law, a band featuring Paul Rodgers and The Who drummer Kenney Jones.

The version of "Ride into the Sun" is not the version that appeared on The Def Leppard E.P., but rather the 1987 re-recording. It differs slightly from the version of the recording used as a B-side in the Hysteria era, though. The one used as a B-side had a Rick Allen drum solo intro, whereas this one 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".

This is the first Def Leppard album without previous guitarist Steve Clark who died in 1991, to feature songs recorded with newly added guitarist Vivian Campbell.

Album cover[edit]

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.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Desert Song" (Steve Clark, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage) – 5:19
    • Outtake from the Hysteria album sessions
  2. "Fractured Love" (Clark, Elliott, Savage) – 5:08
    • Outtake from the Hysteria album sessions
  3. "Action" (Andy Scott, Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Mick Tucker) – 3:41
  4. "Two Steps Behind" (Acoustic Version) (Elliott) – 4:16
    • Original version released on the "Make Love Like a Man" single
    • Originally released on the Last Action Hero soundtrack
  5. "She's Too Tough" (Elliott) – 3:41
    • Original version released on the "Heaven Is" single and is the bonus track for the Japanese pressing of Adrenalize
  6. "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (Phil Collen) – 4:04
    • Original version released on the "Make Love Like a Man" single
  7. "Only After Dark" (Mick Ronson, Scott Richardson) – 3:52
  8. "Ride into The Sun" (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Savage) – 3:12
  9. "From the Inside" (Elliott) – 4:13
  10. "Ring of Fire" (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Savage) – 4:42
  11. "I Wanna Be Your Hero" (Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange, Savage) – 4:29
    • Original version released on the "Hysteria" single
  12. "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (Electric Version) (Collen) – 4:58
    • This was the Japanese bonus track for Adrenalize
  13. "Two Steps Behind" (Electric Version) (Elliott) – 4:29
  14. "Miss You in a Heartbeat" (Piano Version) [Hidden track] (Collen) – 4:09


Country Provider Certification
(sales thresholds)
United States RIAA Platinum
Canada CRIA Platinum


Additional musicians[edit]


  • 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


  • Retro Active (CD booklet). Def Leppard. London, England: Mercury. 1993. 314,518,305-2.