30th Anniversary super deluxe issue
Call it what you want be it pop metal, hair metal or soft rock, Def Leppard's Hysteria not only redefined heavy metal for the 80s, but also propelled the band into stardom. The fourth album by Sheffield's finest may be critically acclaimed today, but it was an album which could have easily never have happened, at least not in the way we know it now.
There were 4 years between their breakout album Pyromania and Hysteria, and the album itself spent 3 years in development hell fraught with personal and creative problems. After producer Mutt Lange left the project, the band brought Jim Steinman on board but were unable to find a satisfactory sound. Steinman wanted a more raw, traditional sound but the band were craving something more. Steinman and Leppard eventually parted ways and the band decided to go it alone with Lange's engineer, but were still dissatisfied and scrapped the recording sessions.
Then drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car crash causing the band to radically review their situation. Luckily Allen was keen to return to the band using a modified drum kit using electronic and traditional elements. Mutt Lange also returned, but the album was further delayed when Lange and vocalist Joe Elliott were both out of action due to accident and illness.
With everything set to go the band had to work on their sound. Musical styles were evolving so quickly in the 80s due to technology that the band were in danger of sounding passé before they had even released their next album. With Lange back on board he used his visionary skills to harness the bands sound in this ever changing musical world. They wanted to move forward not just stick with the same rock sound that was present on earlier albums; they wanted this to be their Sgt Peppers or Dark Side Of The Moon. As a result, Lange and the band took advantage of the technological advances available and experimented bringing in other genre elements and not just working within the boundaries of rock - a formula he would go on to repeat with ex-wife Shania Twain's best-selling album Come On Over.
From the outset Hysteria the album shifts and turns direction at lightning pace. The electronic sound is really harnessed throughout the album, partly from Lange's experimentation but also from Allen's partially electronic kit. The title track has 11 guitar parts layered over each other to create a torrent of sound and Rocket uses African Burundi drum beats on a loop which the song was built around. The lead tracks Animal and Woman are standard rock tracks but have such an instant appeal that they were hits on both sides of the Atlantic and many of the songs still have massive airplay today-In fact the album was conceived so that every song could have been a hit. There's also a raw sexuality that runs through the album most notably on songs like Pour Some Sugar On Me and Armageddon It, but more subtlety on other songs like Love and Affection and Love Bites. This feeling of overpowering lust and love doesn't just come through on Elliott's vocals but also in Lange's attention to the overall sonic presentation of the album. The attention to detail in building a track to evoke emotions and create a powerhouse of sound.
Given that the album is as synonymous with Def Leppard as In Rock is with Deep Purple it's unsurprising that Hysteria is now celebrating its 30th anniversary in style. The band have gone to town with a deluxe issue that features a remastering of the original album, b sides, radio edits, a live album (Live In The Round: Rock Your Face Off), a bonus DVD featuring TV appearances a documentary and a book chronicling the making of the album.
Hysteria went on to be one of the most expensive albums ever produced but hit the zeitgeist of the time more than making its money back selling over 20 million copies. 30 years on, like all the best 80s music it's hardly aged at all.
Groupie Rating 5/5