Before Def Leppard, heavy metal was associated with leather, studs, and motorcycles. After a pair of mega-platinum albums in the '80s, Leppard proved that pop hooks, hard rock, and good looks could equal massive success, hatching a slew of imitators in the process. Despite numerous setbacks such as drummer Rick Allen losing an arm in an accident, followed by the death of guitarist Steve Clark, the British band persevered, achieving even more popularity. Though they inspired legions of hair metal bands, their longevity is a testament to their enduring musical legacy.
Vinyl pressing of Hysteria by Def Leppard. Four years after Pyromania, Def Leppard were a comparative write-off. Dismissed by critics, seemingly dogged by bad luck, with drummer Rick Allen losing an arm in a car accident, Hysteria had to be an album to turn heads. In retrospect, it sounded like the first true Hard Rock record for the CD generation. Ambitious arrangements and remixes on songs such as "Rocket" and "Armaggedon It," a crisp single in "Animal," and a dense paean to love with "Love Bites," all bets were off. Def Leppard had created an intriguing language of ideas that still speaks volumes more than a decade on.
Probably Def Leppard's best album, and certainly their most successful, Hysteria pretty much sums up 80s hard rock: catchy, tuneful, and fun. It's also one of the few albums from the period that doesn't sound dated now, and singles like "Pour Some Sugar On Me", "Armageddon It", and "Rocket" remain staples of rock radio. The rest of the album is equally entertaining; "Animal" and "Hysteria", while mid-tempo, have the same slick intensity, and "Love Bites" is one of the few pop-metal ballads that doesn't sound saccharine over a decade after its release. Def Leppard may be remembered more for their hair than their music these days, but that's more due to changing tastes than anything else. It's still good. --Genevieve Williams
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After Rick Allen had his accident - by now the critics were writing the band off
- I was sure that that was the end of my all-time favorite band...
marked a huge comeback for Def Leppard!