Def Leppard

Rock of Ages

Composed by Steve Clark / Joe Elliott / Robert John "Mutt" Lange

Song Review by

One of the tracks that made Def Leppard one of the biggest bands in the universe in 1983-1984, "Rock of Ages" is simply an ode to, well, rock. Lyrically, there's not much to speak of here. It's pretty hard to debate the purpose of a song that has the word "rock" sung just about every four seconds. So how does a song with such a limited purpose become one of the biggest rock anthems of its day? First, Def Leppard hit their stride just as MTV was becoming a major power in the music biz. The video for "Rock of Ages" is arguably just as important (and just as silly) as the song itself. The up-close shot of Phil Collen shaking his ass, the exceedingly phallic giant sword that Joe Elliot is carrying around, Rick Allen baby-faced and clad only in Union Jack running shorts, and the virgin who can only be unchained by pure rock -- such things would eventually become metal band video clich├ęs, but here they were visual gold and helped sell records by the boatload. Second, the big guitars, layered vocals, and booming drum production values of Mutt Lange (That gibberish at the beginning of the song? That's one of his odd count-offs that he employed to take the edge off the recording of the record, which had become more problematic than anyone had expected) helped make "Rock of Ages" sound HUGE on radio, TV, or LP. Arguably, "Rock of Ages" was the blueprint for almost all of Lep's future hits.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rock of Ages 1983 Vertigo
Historia 1988 Vertigo
Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits 1995 Mercury 4:08
Video Archive 1995 Polygram
Visualize/Video Archive 2001 Uptown/Universal