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Def Leppard: Hysteria 30th Anniversary - Review

Def Leppard

Joe Elliott - lead vocals

Phil Collen - guitars, backing vocals (backing vocals credited as part of 'The Bankrupt Brothers)

Steve Clark - guitars, backing vocals (backing vocals credited as part of 'The Bankrupt Brothers)

Rick Savage - bass, bass synthesizer, backing vocals (backing vocals credited as part of 'The Bankrupt Brothers)

Rick Allen - drums

The music industry has never shied away from milking an artist or group. Whether it’s releasing a posthumous album or an anniversary edition of a popular album, the music business is just that, business. Over the last five years, I’ve noticed a trend with the release of deluxe or anniversary edition albums by an artist or group and this past August, Def Leppard; one of my favourite bands growing up, just released the 30th anniversary edition of their biggest selling album, Hysteria. I can imagine some of you thinking, “Really? Def Leppard? Do we really need an anniversary edition of Hysteria?” In all honesty, I believe that Hysteria does deserve a deluxe/anniversary release in order grab hold of its rightful place in the pantheon of rock.

If we go back thirty years, the music scene was very different than it is today. The record buying public had no choice but to go to a record store to get their hands on a physical copy of an artist or group’s most recent release. Selling records, cassettes, CD’s was a lucrative business and many artists/groups were releasing an album every two-years. Let’s face it, having fans wait for a release passed those two years, was a gamble a lot of bands could not afford.

In 1983, Def Leppard’s Pyromania sold a whopping ten million copies in the U.S. alone. So, in order for the band to solidify their status as one of the Big Guns in the rock world, they needed to capitalize on their success with a worthy follow-up. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out well for Def Leppard. Their follow-up, Hysteria, was plagued with numerous set backs that caused a three-year delay. First off, producer extraordinaire Mutt Lange, who was responsible for Pyromania’s success, dropped out of Hysteria’s pre-production sessions, citing exhaustion from a gruelling schedule from the past few years. Second, Meat Loaf songwriter, Jim Steinman was brought in to work behind the boards. Well his approach and that of Def Leppard’s just didn’t work out because they were so different. The sessions were just abandoned.

Third, and the biggest set back for the band, was when their drummer, Rick Allen lost his arm in an auto accident with his Corvette. In true brotherhood, the band stood by Allen's decision to return to the drum kit, despite his disability, using a combination electronic/acoustic kit with a set of electronic pedals that triggered the sounds that he would have played with his left arm.

Think about it, Def Leppard were on verge of becoming one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Their chances to capitalize on their success was slipping through their fingers. And while most bands would have started looking for a new drummer, they waited for their friend to return.

Luckily for the group, Rick Allen returned behind the drum kit, and Mutt Lange came back to produce Hysteria. I’d describe the album as a hard rock version of Michael Jacksons’ Thriller; in that every track was a potential hit single. The album went on to sell a staggering 12 million units and spawned 7 hit singles.

It’s the story behind Hysteria that makes worthy of anniversary edition remake. Everytime I play it, I just don’t hear the catchy power pop songs I hear and feel the comradery of the band, and their ability to take all that adversity and create something amazing, it still blows me away. A true testament to the 5 young men who didn’t give up on each other even though from the record label’s view it was but a cash grab.

If you don’t have Hysteria in your collection, I urge you to give it a listen.

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