The challenge for me writing about Def Leppard’s 1987 “Hysteria” album is what I can I say or write about it which hasn’t been said before? I mean this album spawned seven singles, went platinum in many countries and gold in a few more as well as going to number one in the charts. Furthermore, the album was finally recorded four years after their previous sensational album, “Pyromania,” in which the band had to overcome the tragic accident which cost drummer Rick Allen his arm and Steve Clark’s battle with alcohol. There was also the problem with producers. Mutt Lange started producing but walked out and Jim Steinman didn’t last. The band tried to produce it themselves but Mutt came back and helped the band make history. So, in many ways, this album was a remarkable triumph for the band.
Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best. As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones. I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate! This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?
NOTE: I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only. There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.
This week we are discussing the British sensations, Def Leppard. Originally upstarts in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement in the late 1970’s, Def Leppard has transformed their sound throughout the decades, first hitting the mainstream has a hard-driving unit, before exploring with a variety of genres, including grunge and straight-up pop. The band has experienced their share of hardships along the way, including the car accident in which drummer Rick Allen lost his arm, as well as the untimely death of guitarist Steve Clark.
Do you remember the grunge and alternative rock movement of the 1990’s? I do. I hated it back then. It took away the feel-good, party rock and roll that I grew up on. Today, I have grown in my musical taste and have accepted, and now even enjoy, some of the bands that thrived during this time. However, it is not a good sound for Def Leppard.
Best Song: Blood Runs Cold
Best Deep Cut: Blood Runs Cold
Now, You’re Beautiful, Cry, and Scar are decent tracks, but still too much filler on this release.
Best Song: You’re Beautiful
Best Deep Cut: You’re Beautiful
This album marks a return towards the sound that most Def Leppard fans came to love, however, like X above, there is still too much filler on this record. As I have lamented before, I would much rather listen to an album with 8-9 good tracks, than one with 13-14 songs just to fill a disc. The hit, Promises, Demolition Man, and the wonderful, Paper Sun are the highlights here.
Best Song: Paper Sun
Best Deep Cut: Paper Sun
This first album without Steve Clark has its moments, however, it was the first Def Leppard record that disappointed me overall. While there is a collection of solid songs, such as Let’s Get Rocked, White Lightning, Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion), and Tear It Down, the album comes across as a little formulistic, with most of the material failing to stand up to previous releases. Tonight has the potential to be a Def Leppard classic, however fizzles in the end.
Best Song: White Lightning
Best Deep Cut: White Lightning
I must admit, I don’t believe I had ever listened to this record until I was preparing this column. I had to scramble this weekend, as for some reason, this one slipped through the cracks. I was pleasantly surprised once I did listen to it. The album is full of catchy choruses with big hooks. While impossible to compare to the brilliance of its earlier releases, the band delivered in a way few thought one at this stage in their career could.
Go, Nine Lives, C’mon C’mon, Tomorrow, and Gotta Let it Go are the highlights.
Best Song: Tomorrow
Best Deep Cut: Tomorrow
I had heard Def Leppard’s self-titled release from 2015, although I needed to take the time to refamiliarize myself with it. Much like with Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, this album is an overlooked surprise in the band’s catalogue. Let’s Go, Dangerous, Man Enough, Forever Young, and Wings of an Angel are worthy of your time.
Best Song: Let’s Go
Best Deep Cut: Let’s Go
You’re about to see where my allegiances lie regarding Def Leppard, seeing as the top four albums in this ranking are from the 80’s. On Through the Night is the debut release and show a band who is raw and hungry to break out of obscurity. While lacking the polish of future records, you begin to realize that Def Leppard was a band about to break out.
Rock Brigade, Hello America, and Wasted are criminally underrated DL classics in my book.
Best Song: Wasted
Best Deep Cut: Wasted
We go from the obscure to the ginormous opus with 1987’s Hysteria. Released four years after the previous record, due, in most part, to the accident and amputation of Allen’s arm, the album brings to light the poppier side of the band, no doubt due to the electronic drum set-up Allen utilized. The record spawned seven hit singles, and really took off when the third single, Pour Some Sugar on Me, hit the airwaves.
Obviously, the hits are there, with Animal, Rocket, Armageddon It, Love Bites, and the title track all enjoying success on the charts, while the deep cuts are plentiful and fruitful, such as, Gods of War, Don’t Shoot Shotgun, and Excitable.
Best Song: Hysteria
Best Deep Cut: Excitable
Under the direction of hit maker Mutt Lange at the controls, the band catapulted into superstardom with this album. There are plenty of hits, including, Photograph, Foolin,’ Rock of Ages, and the amazing, Too Late for Love. Meanwhile, there is plenty more to knock your socks off with, Rock Rock (Till You Drop), Stagefright, Die Hard the Hunter, and Comin’ Under Fire.
Best Song: Too Late for Love
Best Deep Cut: Comin’ Under Fire
One of my favorite albums of all time, High ‘n’ Dry features Def Leppard for the first time with Mutt Lange. While only Bringing on the Heartbreak broke through as a major radio hit, the rest of the record is an absolute masterpiece. One of the rare albums that has no bad songs, very similar to the debut Van Halen release. I could name off the highlights, but I’ll save you some time and tell you to listen to the whole thing.