Friday, July 29, 2011

The #12 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"Hysteria" by Def Leppard

We're zeroing in on The Top 10 Albums of All-Time in the Rock Era*.  There may some disagreement about placings below this, but a mere check of the statistics for the next 12 albums should leave no doubt that these are indeed the Top 12 albums of the Rock Era*.

The album at #12 represents a great triumph in a couple of ways.  First, it was the reward for a long struggle for the British group Def Leppard, whose drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a tragic auto accident in the middle of recording the album (December 31, 1984), and second, it proved a hard rock album could be popular with the masses.  The key to the latter, of course, was melody--if you have one, most people are going to listen.  If you don't, you're confined to the much narrower path of people that just like a beat.  The album took three years to create and complete, of course delayed by Allen's accident.  Determined to continue with the group, Allen had a special drum kit built for him.  Foot pedals were designed that would be pressed for the beats Allen would have made with his left arm. 

Def Leppard released three albums before this one, and was beginning to attract a following with their previous album Pyromania.  But they outdid themselves with this one.  It was Allen who thought of the album's title--it reflects his feeling when he suffered his injury and the subsequent news coverage which followed.  Hysteria hung around the Top 10 as one after another, singles emerged from the album that gave hints of how great it was.  But it wasn't until July 23, 1988 that the album reached #1 (in its 49th week on the chart--the 10th slowest-moving album to #1 in the Rock Era).  Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses, which placed at # for the Rock Era, took over for just one week, then Hysteria moved back on top.  Albums by Steve Winwood (Roll With It) and Tracy Chapman (her debut) each lasted a week at #1 and then Hysteria regained the top position for a third time. 

Hysteria logged six weeks at #1, spent eight weeks at #2 and five weeks at #3.  It was one of the longest-running albums in the Top 10 in the history of the Rock Era, with 78 weeks.  Hysteria remained a best-seller for 133 weeks (2 1/2 years).  So far, the album is over 12 million copies and continues to sell well.  It has by far the best Track Rating* for any hard rock or heavy metal album in the Rock Era.  So if you like hard rock, this is where to start.  Hysteria produced six huge hits (with four of those going Top Ten), simply unheard of for a hard rock band. 

Def Leppard Hysteria Album Cover

Esteemed producer Robert "Mutt" Lange started out on the album but had to drop out from exhaustion over a tight schedule over several years.  Songwriter Jim Steinman was brought in but his vision and that of the group's was not the same.  Lange's engineer Nigel Green then gave it a try but those efforts did not pay off either.  Lange made a surprise return about the time Allen had mastered his drum kit.  But Lange too had a car accident and then singer Joe Elliott got the mumps, both further delaying the project. 

Finally after all of those delays, the group with its drummer and producer in the fold, began to record the tracks for this historic album.  "Animal" was chosen as the first single, except for in the United States, where "Women" was the first release.  "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was the single that helped propel the album to # in the U.S.  In contrast to Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., Hysteria has great tracks that weren't singles.  "Don't Shoot Shotgun" and "Run Riot" are both excellent.  But you can't go wrong on this album, which can be tracked through with most people liking what they hear.

As it became apparent that Hysteria was a masterpiece, the album exploded worldwide and Def Leppard dominated the charts for the next three years. 

(All songs by Steve Clark, Phil Collen, Joe Elliott, Mutt Lange and Rick Savage.)

Side one
1.    "Women" --5:41
2.    "Rocket" --6:37
3.    "Animal" --4:02
4.    "Love Bites" --5:46
5.    "Pour Some Sugar on Me" --4:25
6.    "Armageddon It" --5:21

Side two
7.    "Gods of War" --6:37
8.    "Don't Shoot Shotgun" --4:26
9.    "Run Riot" --4:39
10.  "Hysteria" --5:54
11.  "Excitable" --4:19
12.  "Love and Affection" --4:37

Def Leppard consisted of Joe Elliott on lead vocals, guitarists Steve Clark and Phil Collen, bass guitarist Rick Savage and Rick Allen on drums.  "The Bankrupt Brothers" are listed as contributing to backing vocals, when in fact it is Def Leppard using a joking reference about themselves. 

As mentioned, Hysteria was recorded from February of 1984 through January of 1987 at Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum, the Netherlands, Windmill Lane Studio 2 in Dublin, Ireland and Studio Des Dames in Paris, France.  Robert "Mutt" Lange produced the project with Def Leppard's assistance.  Nigel Green, Erwin Musper and Ronald Prent were the engineers; Green and Mike Shipley mixed the album and Bob Ludwig and Howie Weinberg mastered it.  Ross Halfin and Laurie Lewis contributed photography.  The Album was finally released on August 3, 1987.

It was worth the wait...and then some. 

 Hysteria by Def Leppard checks in as the #12 Album of the Rock Era*.

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