Retro Active

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Retro Active
Def Leppard - Retro Active.jpg
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 Glam metal
Length 56:04
Label Mercury
Producer Def Leppard
Def Leppard compilation chronology
Retro Active
Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980–1995)
(1995)Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980–1995)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)
  5. "Two Steps Behind (re-issue)"
    Released: April 1994
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[2]
Sputnik Music 3.5/5 stars[3]

Retro Active is a compilation album by the 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 from 1984 to 1993. The album charted at number 9 on the Billboard 200[4] and No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart.[5]


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.

According to singer Joe Elliott, the concept behind the album was envisioned after "Two Steps Behind", originally demoed solely by Elliott as an electric version in 1989, was recorded by the band as an acoustic ballad at the suggestion of guitarist Phil Collen. When the producers of the film Last Action Hero contacted the band in 1993 to provide a new song for the soundtrack, the band were unable to record new material due to touring schedules and sent over the multitrack tape of the acoustic version of "Two Steps Behind", which was given strings by conductor Michael Kamen in April 1993 and included onto the film soundtrack. It would become the band's last Top 20 single in the US, reaching No. 12, and would inspire the band to put the album together and re-record the electric version of the song.

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

The original B-side version of "She's Too Tough" and the electric version of "Miss You in a Heartbeat" were released as bonus tracks for the Japanese pressing of Adrenalize.Written in 1985, "She's Too Tough" first appeared on the Helix album Wild in the Streets in 1987.

Two unfinished songs from the Hysteria recording sessions, "Desert Song" and "Fractured Love", were completed exclusively for the album.

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 Collen had written and demoed "Miss You in a Heartbeat" in 1991, it was released first on the self-titled 1991 debut by the Law, a band featuring Paul Rodgers and the Who drummer Kenney Jones. After the band had recorded new vocal, bass and drum parts to the electric version of the song in April 1992, Collen overheard Elliott experimenting with the song with a piano. Elliott then recorded a piano and vocal version to the song, and then Collen, bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen added acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar and drum parts to it in June 1993, creating the acoustic version that would be released as a single.

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: the piano/vocal version of "Miss You in a Heartbeat", which also features an alternate acoustic guitar solo by Collen.

This is the first Def Leppard album 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
  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
  5. "She's Too Tough" (Elliott) – 3:41
    • Original version released on the "Heaven Is" single (1993) and is the bonus track for the Japanese pressing of Adrenalize (1992)
  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