Def Leppard: ‘Hysteria’

Released on August 3, 1987 (Mercury)
Billboard Chart Position #1

Review by Deke (August 2017):
When I think of Hysteria, I think of millions of copies of this album sold and sugar! Ha! So after a ton of turmoil (drummer Rick Allen losing his arm no doubt being the worst) from 1983 ’til 1987, I would read about updates (Circus and Kerrang magazines) on the progress or lack thereof for the follow-up to the mega selling Pyromania. Leppard started recording with Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf‘s songwriter/producer) but after a while, they punted Steinman (with a huge buyout from what I read) and went back to Mutt Lange, the super sonic layered plastered producer, who helmed the previous Pyromania (1983) and the Deke approved High ‘n’ Dry (1981).

So when Hysteria dropped in August of 1987, I was a  first day buyer (cassette) and upon first listen, it was apparent that this thing in the guitar department was gonna be huge with the guitars sounding like a thousand guitars and of course the curiosity factor of Allen and his electronic drums (bravo!) was another factor like “How the hell is he drumming with one friggin arm??”

Joe Elliott, Rick Savage, Steve Clark (R.I.P.), Rick Allen and Phil Collen hit a huge payday with this album and to this day, it still carries them on rock radio…. Rock Rock Til Ya Drop…..Insert cash into Leppard‘s bank vault!

“Women” — Swirling guitars and a slam of Allen‘s electronic drums cue up “Women” which is a good lead off track and what is even better is when the tempo ramps up at the beginning of the solo. Phil Collen, as per his shred protocol of guitar hero, slices and dices a pretty slick solo. It’s all here including a snazzy sing along chorus and powerful bass sonics. Simple yet effective! Steve Clark blitzes the solo at the end of the tune and as his cool protocol, plays a simple yet effective solo to take the song out. Actually, it’s one of my fav solos of his. Dude did not have to shred at a million times the speed limit of some (like his partner). Great player that Clark was! As I have said many a time, all the great Leppard guitar riffs went to heaven when Clark passed away. They have never been the same…. Anyhoo….

“Rocket” — I dig this tune and even though MuchMusic played the tar out of the video, I like the sound of this tune as it’s like we’re landing on the moon! The lyrics are Joe telling us all the influences that have come into the Leppard sound. Kinda corny but catchy as heck! The chorus though is the money shot! “Rocket… satellite of love!” Huh? Whatever… It’s a fun song as it keeps building and building into an aural sonic romp!

“Animal” — A well written rock track that was a huge hit and it has all the trimmings of a Lep single! Once the song hits the chorus, it takes this tune to another level. Power chords galore with a snappy happy chorus.

“Love Bites” — Oh, oh — it’s 1987 but by the time “Love Bites” is released as a single, it’s 1988 and power ballads are everywhere! This one included but it’s Def Lep so I give them a pass. The song is what I would think would be a Mutt Lange signature piece. Big time hook that draws you into the chorus and along with the twin guitars, or is that 500 guitars, just gives it enough gas for me not to push skip on the CD player circa 1988.

“Pour Some Sugar On Me” — Ha! What the hell could I say about this tune other than the video being all about Leps‘ live show and a ton of shots of the ladies in the crowd from their 1988 Denver show! What I wish Lep would do is go back to Denver now (2016) and do a casting call and have all the ladies that were in the original video from 1988  show up and for Lep to recut the video! Ha ha ha… man, that would be a hoot! The song is driven by Allen‘s electronic drum kit and the song musically is pretty decent kinda plods along but this tune was another biggie from this album.

“Armageddon It” — Back to some great rock! Are you getting it? This tune starts with a great guitar hook and we’re off. “Armageddon It” is what I like about Leppard. It’s not rocket science but just a great hard rocking track (well, hard rocking for Leppard). Love Clark‘s guitar solo after Joe chirps “come on Steve.” Awesome stuff and of course, Collen has to have a crack of a solo at the end of the tune as well. Great song.

“Gods Of War” — Side 2 begins with a big Lep song! This is a great track. This has to be Steve Clark’s deal this one! Big power chords, thumping loud drums and bass carry this song and consider that at times, Leppard like to write straight forward catchy songs (“Animal” and “Armageddon It”) so they can roll the dice and put out big epic rock with a wicked sounding chorus as well! “Gods Of War” is one of them. They even sample presidents and such.

“Don’t Shoot Shotgun” — This song and the next one (“Run Riot”) got buried under a ton of sugar (get it?) as the singles are the ones everyone would talk about. Don’t kid yourself folks. There’s some good rock here! Yeah sure, everything is multilayered (guitars, vocals) but when you strip back the sonics, it’s a bare bones rock track! The verses are real good and even better than the chorus. Collen does his dippity do da shred work as per protocol and yeah, I can be a sucker for that kind of solo in little doses mind you)

“Run Riot” — This is my fav track from Hysteria! Yeah, it is! I shit you not! Dig Allen and his drums smashing down a ton of percussion along with a million layered guitars all over the musical map. Say what you want, “Run Riot” is a great track with a great solo and real ear catchy chorus. “Ruuuuuuuun Riiooooooot!” Big lead and cracking backing vocals deliver me a Lep sonic sandwhich! Loooove it!

“Hysteria” — Another biggie Lep single! Wow man, for a slower groove like tune, this is a masterpiece! Sweeping the landscape musically, Clark drives this song with his guitar work. “Hysteria” is a well written rock track that over time has become one of my sleeper tracks on this album. Great title for this record along with artwork for the cover. Lep 1987 were the deal and by 1988, they were a big fuckin’ deal!

“Excitable” — “Are you excitable?” someone asks and you hear a female panting in the background. This is a goofy tune! Just a cheap overnight Lep romp at a five and dime hotel! It’s like Mutt Lange wanted Lep to write a Cars like song. In the element of this album, this tune is the weak link amongst some pretty decent hard rock!

“Love And Affection” — End of the album closer! A pretty decent tune at a mid clip speed. Like many other tunes which are here singles, this could have been one also. Nice tempo and Elliot tosses down a decent vocal and as the song ends, the Leps bid adieu! Good song.

Read somewhere years ago that Lep went into huge debt with this album back in 1987 and when it was released it would have to sell 2 million to break even so when Women was released as the first single it tanked on the charts! There must have been a real freak out at Camp Lep! But no worries, five other singles were released and I still recall “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” That video on MuchMusic every five minutes during the summer of 1988! No looking back for Joe and the boys!

Hysteria is a top-notch album and the last one to feature the great Steve Clark! He was the king of Lep riffs. Lep never really recovered from his loss! See my Adrenalize review on how I spin wit and wisdom on that album! Allright a bit of wit no wisdom! Ha!

Review by Metal Mike (August 2017):
Originally when it was suggested that I review Hysteria on the 30th year of its anniversary, I politely declined. Did I really want to come to terms with how old I am? There were too many embarrassing stories of my high school youth that I could have shared, related to that record. But alas, after listening to the whole album again, I can’t not talk about it.

Hysteria was both the bane and boon of my ’87 existence. That album was something you’d love to hate. My girlfriend at the time loved this album, and so therefore I had to listen to it constantly and sing every song. In ’87, Hysteria was kind of like the Nickelback of its time. Kinda catchy, but embarrassing to admit to liking.

Fast forward 30 years to 2017. Let’s face it, Hysteria stands the test of time.“Rocket,” “Don’t Shoot Shotgun” or even “Armageddon It” are cool hard rock songs, even on today’s radio. Others, like the soft edged “Love & Affection,” “Hysteria” or “Love Bites” recall the power ballad ickyness that was the default need of hard rock bands to appeal to the masses on commercial radio of the time. They were what they were written to be.

I have completely ignored the elephant in the room so far, being “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Like really, “Step inside? Walk this way?” What a monster of a tune at that time, and now. It’s a pure mainstream commercial metal hit — hands down. It’s still mixed and mashed up with the best songs on the kiddy dance floors today.

Hysteria was built from the beginning using Mutt Lange as songwriter and producer. Mutt wanted a hard rock version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and he got it. It sent Def Leppard from being a rock staple into being rock gods. Make no mistake, Hysteria was designed to be a hit from the beginning. Whether you like the album or not, you have to appreciate the quality of the songwriting and production that went into creating this US diamond certified record.

Review by Tyson Briden (August 2017):
It truly is exciting when you get the chance to analyze a true masterpiece like Def Leppard’s 1987 Hysteria album. My first recollection of the release of this album goes back to just before its actual release date. It was when the first single “Women” was released to radio. I was captivated by this song right from the first listen. This album was actually my first real introduction to the band. Of course, I had seen the previous videos on Much Music and heard songs on the radio, but I still wasn’t captivated with what the band had to offer until Hysteria. To this day, I still listen and hold this album in very high regard.

Keeping on the topic of the first single, “Women” starts the album off with a fantastic, infectious guitar riff that resonates in my brain every time I hear it. What captures me right away as I listen is that the riff starts on a low string and as the band comes in, it is played in a higher position on the guitar. I love the clean guitar just before the verse. Right off the bat, I can already sense the depth that this album possesses. The dynamics leading into the vocal are so exciting and fresh. As vocalist Joe Elliott is heard, the heavy bass line is carried on the keyboard giving the song a very cool effect. I am enthralled as I analyze what may be one of the greatest albums, production wise ever.

As the verse goes on, a great harmonized vocal is heard. It is right in your face. As the song goes into the chorus, the opening guitar riff is heard again as Elliott sings over top. Pure structuring genius. Just before the guitar solo, great stops are heard as Elliott screams into the melodic portion of the solo. The part that always captures me within the solo is the bar diving that emulates a siren. Then a fantastic breakdown is heard, as the layered vocal sways back and forth through my speakers. The use of Elliott’s vocal with the guitar is in genius production by producer Mutt Lange. The song then switches gears as an outro guitar solo is heard. Purely melodic and shows the pure talent of the young band. A bar dive is prevalent with heavy and clean guitar meshing together as the rhythm plays off of it. The last note, a ringing clean chord. Amazing!!!

“Rocket” starts with feed backed guitar as Elliott asks for guitar, then asks for the drums as the infectious tribal beat enters, then the heavy bass/keyboard is heard. The song pays homage to the ’70s English glitter rock as Elliott sings the verse above the tribal beat. The song builds as the fabulous layered vocals are heard. The build up to the chorus really drives the song. The chorus is played in staccato fashion with the layers throughout the vocal making it easy to sing along to. The solo is very interesting as the bass and tribal drums drive the smooth transitioning between notes. As the song draws to the end, Elliott then proclaims “Guitar, Drums, Light Up” as the song speeds up quickly and then stops abruptly.

“Animal” comes in immediately, the guitar drives the intro holding the note on the bar then switching to a melodic intro, feathering back and forth creating great anticipation leading to the verse. Elliott then sings smoothly over top of dynamic laden bass and drums with clean strummed chords being heard occasionally adding depth to the verse. As the song goes into the bridge, it creates the perfect chord changes that build into the chorus. As the chorus comes in, Elliott sings the line with high guitar notes following his every step. As this occurs twice within the song, the band breaks before the guitar solo. With a quick stop, then great effect vocals segway into yet another perfect melodic solo, with the rhythm doing nothing fancy, but playing behind to create the appropriate feel. The songs ends with the chorus as Elliott is heard repeating himself. Then Elliott sings cool phrasing as the “Animal” chant is heard. The band stops, starts and stops again beneath the beautifully textured vocal of Elliott. Pure melodic hard rock perfection.

“Love Bites” comes in slowly with the bass being heard occasionally with effects building up. As the song progresses, “If you’ve got love in your sights, watch out… Love Bites” is announced. The smooth clean guitar is heard with a slow steady beat heard behind. The vocals of Elliott are well executed and create the emotion of this true masterpiece. The bridge, like “Animal”, creates a tremendous build up that leads into a hook laden chorus. The guitar follows the vocal line yet again and it is hard to not be taken back by what this song is conveying. The layered vocal is so perfect and subtle. Throughout the song is an immaculate piece of ’80s rock history. I have seen this song performed live throughout the years and it captures me every time. It mesmerizes me. To simply put it… it’s genius!

“Pour Some Sugar On Me” adds another dimension to this album. “Step inside, walk this way, you and me babe, hey, hey!!!” hails this rock anthem right from the get go. As the band kicks in a huge sounding, heavily delayed guitar riff is heard. The almost talked vocal comes in beneath a huge reverbed drum sound. The second verse quickly builds with guitar chords backing the vocal. It wouldn’t be a Def Leppard anthem without the build-up bridge going into the ever so catchy chorus. Are you starting to see a trend here in terms of writing hit songs? The song takes a slight detour after the second chorus, with a mid-section that incorporates that huge drum beat as the guitar plays a tight rhythm. Which then brings the listener to a killer sing along breakdown. “You got the peaches, I got the cream, the sweet ta taste, of saccharine, cause I’m hot, hot, so hot, sticky sweet, from my head, head, to my feet.” Then Elliott poses the ever so important question “Do you take sugar? One lump or two?” As corny or cheesy it may look on paper, it is ever so important to this epic hit song. Not bad for a last minute add on to the album.

“Armageddon It”, features the ever so missed riffing of Steve Clark. This multi tracked guitar piece fits nicely as a lead in to another anthem laden hit song. The formula remains the same. Laid back, clever lyrical verses, to a build-up bridge into a hook laden chorus. What I notice more in this song more than the previous five is the guitar sound. For such a rocking song, the guitar tones are subtle and almost clean with slight distortion underneath in the mix. The guitar solo by Clark is superb with a chorused clean tone that is articulated perfectly. A sing along part appears after the chorus with a buildup and use of the simple one chord strum for power going into a guitar chug that builds back into the chorus. Close to the end of the song Elliott is trading off vocal with the guitar as the catchy chorus is heard behind. The strummed progression has a nice effect that wavers back between each speaker and sounds slightly compressed. As it ends, it fades out slowly.

If this were 1987, we’d be flipping over the tape or turning over the record, so let’s imagine the album as if we were. “Gods Of War” is where this album really starts to heat up. We’ve gotten past the singles and it’s time to really get our feet wet. The intro starts in slowly with guns, soldiers chanting and a nice high pitched effect. The bass and drums come in immediately. The snare has a great splash effect on it, but dies quickly after each hit. Feedback is heard leading the guitar to an amazing guitar intro riff, which then builds into a pull off/hammer on lick that intros the listener into the coming verse. As Elliott starts the lyric, the guitar backs off, chugging behind Elliott until he finishes each line, where the guitar does two arpegiatted chords. The bass and drums are still carrying the song, driving the bus at full speed. The great thing about this song is that Leppard has fooled the listener into thinking the chorus is coming after the first bridge, instead it goes into the second verse. After the chorus finally appears, the band slips back into the opening pull off/hammer on lick which lasts 30 seconds and then the song shifts gears with a melodic guitar solo as the rhythm is chugging behind. The rhythm guitar sound is predominantly heard. I love the feel of the players hand on the neck as it moves. It adds a great realness. As the song comes to a close, an arpeggiated guitar progression is heard as the voices of some very prominent political figures of the times are heard talking in the background, all beneath the complexity of helicopter’s flying, missile’s launching, protester’s chanting… It ends with a very bold proclamation from former US president Ronald Reagan about the state of his nation. Incredible!!!

“Don’t Shoot Shotgun” is and will always be my favorite cut on this album. It starts with a harmonized, huge vocal on its own. Then comes in with the bass kick and high hat carrying the build-up as more vocal is heard over top. In classic Leppard fashion, Elliott emphasizes his vocal delivery while cool distorted guitar chords carry after his every word. Between verses, Clark comes in with a cool lick before the song goes full speed into the second verse. A high vocal is heard on the bridge, with a distinctive guitar lick that features a clean tone, harmonizes with the vocal line itself. The chorus is another hook filled adventure of the ears. Verse two follows the same formula as the first with a few extra guitar fills thrown in for good measure. Then like many songs before it, another amazing build up into an astounding guitar solo, played very clean, with chugging chords behind. The cleanliness of the guitar adds a great touch and stands out so nicely. Four and a half minutes of pure magic.

“Run Riot” may well be the fastest rocker on the album. The intro guitar comes in nicely, the guitar builds up the song, with multi layered tracks. Elliott sounds on his game. He sounds as he did on “Rock, Rock Till You Drop” on Pyromania, in a high, raspy tone. The bridge is a band vocal that leads into an extended vocal line that carries throughout the chorus. Phil Collen starts off slowly in the solo, but gradually speeds up the lick that fits perfectly. After the chorus, the breakdown shows that the band was mixing different genres of music into the album. The guitar part is very ’80s British pop sounding with the guitar riff carrying the vocal with slick high chorused bass notes following behind. As I listen to the outro chorus, I quickly notice that the guitar line is buried well below the vocal making the vocal stand out, but just as the song is to end, the guitar comes in more predominately.

“Hysteria” is the track I’ve most wanted to evaluate. For those who have seen the VH1 Classic Albums on Hysteria, it alludes to how some of this song came together. A definite must see for any fan of music production and songwriting. This song was put together in pieces with one member having the main riff, then another member having come up with the guitar pattern in the bridge. They then meshed it together to come up with the only single on side two. Number seven, I may add. What I found most astounding was how Mutt Lange went about structuring the chords that make up the emphasized bridge, recording one note at a time to make up a bright sounding chord. I was so taken by this technique that I tried it myself on one of my demo recordings. Well I can attest to the fact that it is really a worthwhile task, although a tedious job. It makes the chord stand out and adds a certain emphasized brightness. I myself went as far as to put three notes of the chord on the right side and the other three notes on the left making for a cool effect. I love the feel of this song; the guitars really add such a great depth. The guitar line that follows below in the verse is so subtle, but very important. I especially love the guitar solo. Again the use of clean guitar with subtle distortion. Perfection at its finest.

“Excitable” is probably my least favorite track on the album, but still a great song. Listening back to it, the guitar edge is so cool. I wonder how long they spent actually recording all the complex guitar parts throughout. The background vocal during the verse is simple, but adds so much. The breakdown is so catchy with various vocals and instrumentation. Those clean guitars really add depth. The riff over the chorus is so divinely textured. Overall still a great track.

“Love And Affection” could very well have been single number eight. What does that say about this album? I’ll let you fill in that blank. A slow ballad type song with great build ups. The chorus is in your face with those great Lange/Leppard vocals. The guitar work is superb and the drive of the rhythm section behind makes this song a pure masterpiece. The lead into the guitar solo is clean and subtle. The guitar solo itself is slow with each note prevailing. Nothing over the top and flashy fitting to what the song is. A great closing song.

What captures me most about this album is that producer Mutt Lange took the simplicity of simple rock songs and mixed a diverse culture of musical elements to create a sound that was really like no other. This album generated seven singles, which at the time was unheard of for a rock band. As I took the time to listen to each song individually, which I felt a masterpiece like this one deserves, I really focused on every little nuance that made up each song. Sonically, this album was before its time. It’s held up nicely. I may be going out on a limb here, but not one single album in the 30 years since its release, sounds as this one does, and that even includes the Def Leppard albums following this one. It stands on its own as maybe the most definitive hard rock album ever.

Review by Ali (May 2007):
Why can’t a rock band have seven hit singles on one album? Def Leppard certainly did. Recorded over a four year period, Hysteria made Def Leppard one of the biggest bands in the world. Hits such as “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, “Hysteria” and “Love Bites” were popular all over the world. When “Pour Some Sugar On Me” was released as a single, over 450,000 copies of Hysteria were shipped over to America. That’s almost going gold in one day!

When starting to record, producer Mutt Lange wasn’t available to produce. It was after Rick Allen‘s car accident that Mutt stepped in. Mutt gave the band a structure and taught everyone that each track should be one of a kind.

Each song on the record was full of harmonized vocals, melodic guitars and pounding bass and drums. The combination of Phil Collen‘s and Steve Clark‘s guitars was very melodic and unique for a rock band of their age. Hysteria was the last album for Steve Clark. His contribution was immense, his riffs were unusual but influenced by other things.

Hits such as “Animal” and “Armageddon It” have emotive backing vocals which accentuate the guitars. The band and producer wanted Hysteria to be perfect, so every track had to be unique, right down from a basic chord to an amalgamation of backing vocals. All tracks were perfect from the beginning to end, which made Hysteria so successful. Hysteria is THE Def Leppard album to listen to.

Track List:
01. Women
02. Rocket
03. Animal
04. Love Bites
05. Pour Some Sugar On Me
06. Armageddon It
07. Gods Of War
08. Don’t Shoot Shotgun
09. Run Riot
10. Hysteria
11. Excitable
12. Love And Affection

Band Members:
Joe Elliott – vocals
Steve Clark – guitar, backing vocals
Phil Collen – guitar, backing vocals
Rick Savage – bass, bass synthesizer, backing vocals
Rick Allen – drums

Additional Musicians:
Robert John “Mutt” Lange – backing vocals
Rocky Newton – backing vocals
Philip “Art School” Nicholas – keyboards, fairlight programming

Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange
Mixed by Nigel Green and Mike Shipley
Mastered by Bob Ludwig and Howie Weinberg
Engineered by Nigel Green, Erwin Musper and Ronald Prent

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Ali in May 2007, and DekeMetal Mike and Tyson Briden in August 2017, for Sleaze Roxx.

Def Leppard‘s “Women” video:

DEF LEPPARD – “Women” (Official Music Video)

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Def Leppard‘s “Animal” video:

DEF LEPPARD – “Animal” (Official Music Video)

Get tickets to Def Leppard’s 2020 Stadium Tour with Mötley Crüe and special guests Poison & Joan Jett here: https://defleppard.comSubscribe to our channel fo…

Def Leppard‘s “Hysteria” video:

Def Leppard‘s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” video:

Def Leppard‘s “Love Bites” video:

DEF LEPPARD – “Love Bites” (Official Music Video)

Get tickets to Def Leppard’s 2020 Stadium Tour with Mötley Crüe and special guests Poison & Joan Jett here: https://defleppard.comSubscribe to our channel fo…

Def Leppard‘s “Armageddon It” video:

DEF LEPPARD – “Armageddon It” (Official Music Video)

Get tickets to Def Leppard’s 2020 Stadium Tour with Mötley Crüe and special guests Poison & Joan Jett here: https://defleppard.comSubscribe to our channel fo…

Def Leppard‘s “Rocket” video:

Def Leppard – Rocket

Rocket video clip 1989HysteriaRemastered by Walter’s RecordsBludgeon Riffola Ltd.