Do you wanna get rocked? The biggest and best of Def Leppard

No band in the ’80s sounded bigger than Def Leppard, and that wasn’t because of their riffage; that was thanks to “Mutt” Lange, sprinkling his magic studio dust over them in his pre-Shania years. On their biggest album and crowning achievement, 1987’s Hysteria, they weren’t afraid to spotlight electronics while still rocking harder than most pop stars out there — or most hair metallers, with whom they were unfairly lumped, because these Sheffield blokes were always more Small Faces than they ever were, say, Mõtley Crüe. (Think about it: you never once saw Def Lep in spandex, or makeup.)

The US chart story of Hysteria, the follow-up to their massive breakthrough, 1983’s Pyromania, never fails to fascinate me. But rather than run through it myself, I’ll let Billboard‘s then-Chart Beat columnist, Paul Grein, explain it.

hysteria1

And not only did “Sugar” only peak at #2 (kind of shocking when you consider its ubiquity at the time), it took the album’s fifth single to finally get the Lep their #1 (“Love Bites,” proof positive that a hard rock ballad doesn’t have to suck) — and after that, they released another two singles, for a total of seven in all! (And six of those hit the top 20.) All seven show up in my personal Def Leppard top 20 (two, including my #1, in their vital single mixes), along with album track “Excitable” — and if that seems excessive, then you probably haven’t listened to Hysteria in a while. A further six songs come from Pyromania, the album that showed the US how brilliantly these guys could pair pop songcraft with a hard rock delivery; it peaked at #2, stopped from the top only by a little record called Thriller. (It didn’t hurt matters that Def Lep embraced the burgeoning video artform, of course. MTV loved ’em.)

Some other notes: after “Rocket,” it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they were huge glam fans, born out on their 2006 covers album YEAH! 1992’s Hysteria follow-up, Adrenalize, isn’t great, but it’s not terrible, either; unfortunately, they were starting to succumb to the curse of supermarket ballads. And 1999’s Euphoria featured one marvelous return to form, the #1 AOR record “Promises.” Oh, and they still kill in concert; I highly recommend US readers catch their summer ’18 tour with Journey if possible, because Def Leppard will rock your socks off.

  1. “Pour Some Sugar on Me (Video Edit)” (single, 1988)
  2. “Animal” (Hysteria, 1987)
  3. “Photograph” (Pyromania, 1983)
  4. “Women” (Hysteria, 1987)
  5. “Love Bites” (Hysteria, 1987)
  6. “Foolin'” (Pyromania, 1983)
  7. “Promises” (Euphoria, 1999)
  8. “Hysteria” (Hysteria, 1987)
  9. “Rock! Rock! Till You Drop”
  10. “Rocket (Single Mix)” (single, 1988)
  11. “Excitable” (Hysteria, 1987)
  12. “Too Late for Love” (Pyromania, 1983)
  13. “Stagefright” (Pyromania, 1983)
  14. “Rock of Ages” (Pyromania, 1983)
  15. “Let’s Get Rocked” (Adrenalize, 1992)
  16. “Armageddon It” (Hysteria, 1987)
  17. “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” (High ‘n’ Dry, 1981)
  18. “Hanging on the Telephone” (YEAH!, 2006)
  19. “Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)” (High ‘n’ Dry, 1981)
  20.  “Make Love Like A Man” (Adrenalize, 1992)
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About thomasinskeep

I write about music.
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