Def Leppard cemented their place in British rock band history with their iconic Hysteria record. After their first two albums struck a chord in the US, their 3rd album, Pyromania, took Def Leppard to new levels – with only Michael Jackson’s Thriller (coincidently the best selling album ever) outselling the album at the time. All was well for the five-piece, until a tragic car accident on New Years Eve 1984 involving member Rick Allen left the drummer with an amputated arm.
Instead of finding another drummer, the band showed great loyalty and, with the aid of a customised electronic kit, Allen defied the odds to drum again. As requested by Allen, the band re-recorded the tracks of Hysteria, before release, with the new drum set up.
Starting with lead single ‘Women’, the new electronic drum kit is very apparent in this momentum-building song resulting in an instant classic. The atmospheric and space-like guitar sounds emphasise the originality of Def Leppard’s set up, in an era of power ballads. The quick tempo doesn’t let up with ‘Rocket’ swiftly following, with that intro flying into the explosive chorus.
As good as the first two tracks are, the next sequence takes the album to a new level starting with the softer, but with as much bite, ‘Animal’. The song, which was the second single from the album, was what broke Def Leppard through in the United Kingdom, reaching number six in the UK Singles Chart. Taking nearly two and a half years to complete, ‘Animal’ was well worth the wait in terms of the success it achieved the band back home in the UK.
The pace lets up with power ballad ‘Love Bites’, but the accolades continue – this is their only song to date that reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Arguably their most popular song follows, with almost ‘rap’ verses leading into that infamous line ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ – an instant classic.
My personal highlight of the album is ‘Armageddon It’, an incredibly underrated song (obviously due to the shear quality of the previous five songs) which evokes some great childhood family holiday memories – a must listen. Considering that the first half of the album featured many ‘8/10 plus’ songs, it’s incredible that the second half more than holds it own – with songs such as ‘Gods Of War’, ‘Don’t Shoot Shotgun’ and especially ‘Excitable’ all contributing to one of the best British rock albums of all time.
Hysteria has sold a massive 20 million copies to date – in the same league, in terms of records sold, as U2’s Joshua Tree and Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?. Even disregarding the difficulty having to re-record the album, due to extenuating circumstances, this is a truly brilliant album that deserves all the accolades it received – one of the best.
Hysteria was released on 3rd August 1987 via Mercury Records.