I know that I often make statements like this, but it’s hard to believe that Def Leppard’s magnificent album, Hysteria, is officially 25 years old. Maybe I have trouble believing things like this because it is a constant reminder of how old I am getting. Poison’s been around for 26 years? Kiss announced their reunion tour 16 years ago? It’s been how many years since Iron Maiden reunited with Bruce Dickinson (12, for the record)? Sadly, I remember all of those things happening. I also remember being extremely excited when they did.
Def Leppard’s Hysteria brought a similar feeling of excitement. In 1983 I was a hair too young to really jump on the Def Leppard band wagon and shout out my love for the band. However, when Hysteria was released in 1987, I was a freshman in High School and I was all in. At that point in my life, I had started consuming hard rock and heavy metal in abundance. Of course, the biggest flavor of the time was hair metal, and I listened to any band that even came close to representing the genre. Many people would argue that Def Leppard isn’t really a hair metal band, but they often get lumped into the category. And in 1987, we didn’t even call them hair bands we just called them rock and roll.
Given all that was happening with the band during this time period, it’s amazing that Hysteria was ever recorded, let alone released. Between the pressure to create a follow up record that was better than Pyromania, having a producer walk away (only to return a year later), and Rick Allen losing an arm, many people thought that Def Leppard was finished as a band. But they persevered and released an amazing record. And no one could imagine the amount of units Hysteria would sell, nor the popularity that the record would have.
Hysteria is packed with hits. From “Women” to “Animal” to “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” every song on this record is fantastic. Yes, 25 years later, “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” is insanely overplayed and has morphed into a song where you roll your eyes and say “Ugh! Again?”, but in 1987, this song was nothing short of monumental. The entire Hysteria album was. I can remember the first time I played the cassette tape. After hearing “Animal” and “Women” and listening to all my friends rave about the record, I knew that I had to have it. So, I saved up my allowance (I was a few months shy of working regularly) and bought myself a copy. After one listen, I was hooked. I could not stop playing Hysteria. I must have listened to that album nonstop for close to a month.
“Armageddon it,” “Rocket,” “Love And Affection,” and my personal favorite “Hysteria,” were all musical bliss to my eardrums. Every note on the album was production perfect. Joe Elliot’s voice sounded like an angel, and the guitar work of Steve Clark and Phil Collen was incredible. On top of all that, Rick Allen’s drum work defied logic. Here was a drummer that lost an arm and with the help of his band, found a way to come back and play the drums for Def Leppard’s best album ever. He was an inspiration to us all. Def Leppard did not cut corners with the drumming either, as some of the songs on Hysteria have complex drum beats, all played by Rick Allen.
When I review the vast musical collection that I have built over the years (2200 albums and counting), I can easily rank Hysteria in the top 25 albums of my collection. It is a perfect album, recorded during a tumultuous time for the band, and Def Leppard came out on top. Hysteria topped the charts worldwide and would go on to sell 12 million copies in the US, one of the highest selling rock albums ever for the States. If ever there was an album deserving of an anniversary edition, Hysteria is it. And while I haven’t heard of any plans for that to happen, a box set including the remastered album, all the B-sides, and live recordings from this tour, would be a welcome gift to me. What about you? What are your thoughts on Hysteria turning 25 years old? Is it one of your favorite albums too, or do you find it to be an overrated, overproduced, overhyped disc?
Follow RyoVie on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyoVie