8.18.2015

Def Leppard - Hysteria

Among the more pleasant aspects of my ongoing mid-life crisis is my inability to let a day go by without listening to Def Leppard's Hysteria.

(1987)

Some background: I was huge into Pyromania, Def Leppard's third album and the one that brought them enduring international fame.


I was already into metal, particularly the movement from which Def Leppard originated, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. They branched out into more of a pop-metal sound with Pyromania, although it was a natural progression from what they were doing on their 2nd album, High and Dry

A sidenote that will be expanded upon in due course: High and Dry was produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, one of the 20th century's most successful producers. 


It was undoubtedly his involvement with the band that brought them to the heights of Pyromania (6 million copies sold in '83) and Hysteria (double that between '87 and '89). When he dismantled the songs the band had written and re-arranged them from the ground up on High and Dry, the band learned their lesson - don't bother finishing the song, just bring intriguing pieces to the studio, because you're going to be there for a year (or years) re-recording them to Mutt's satisfaction. Painstaking with a capital P, but with self-evident results.

There was considerable disagreement among my friends and me at the time whether Def Leppard was truly "metal" after Pyromania. Were they metal crossover pioneers? Or sellouts? This divide deepened upon Hysteria's release; increasingly, I heard that they'd sold their souls to Mutt and his uncanny commercial instincts.

Me, Pyromania was definitely a favorite of mine, "proper" metal or not. In the 90s, I'd have these same kind of arguments about what constituted hardcore vs. skacore vs. grindcore vs. your-mother-core. "Pop Metal" is how I'd personally describe the classic Def Leppard sound for what it's worth, and Pyromania and Hysteria are two of the genre's best. 


I could easily get bogged down talking about Pyromania. Man. Pyromania. Suffice it to say: it rocks. Essentially and scientifically so. If you're at a party that doesn't have Pyromania - and Purple Rain, just throwing that in there - in the stacks, find a better party.

Its massive success meant Def Leppard went into tax exile and in 1984 hunkered down in Ireland and France to record their follow-up, which they hoped would take less time than the year they spent holed up in the studio for Pyromania. It would take 3.

First, drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in an automobile accident. Traumatizing enough but to make it worse, the doctors successfully re-attached it only to remove it again a week later when the wound became infected. 


While rehabilitating he taught himself to play a modified drum kit where foot pedals substituted for what he'd otherwise have played with his left arm. Badass! I won't go through each and every setback the band endured before Hysteria was released in '87 - it's kind of hard to start with Rick losing his damn arm and transition to anything else - but there were many other obstacles. 

When the first single from Hysteria, "Women" appeared, audiences, at least on this side of the Atlantic, shrugged. The video got played on MTV a fair bit, but the song peaked at 80 in the US Billboard Top 100. My friends were among the unimpressed. Me? I loved the freaking thing. How could I not? The video featured my 3 favorite things: comic books, skateboards and Def Leppard.

"Women" didn't remind me any of the songs on Pyromania. Or High and Dry or On Through the Night, for that matter. Its Black Sabbath-tempo, layered harmonies, wicked-multi-tracked guitars, and melodies that left and returned to harmonize with all the soaring guitars and vocals - this was heady stuff. For me at 13, certainly, but for anyone with an appreciation of 20th century studio sound.

I mentioned the video. It's split between the band performing in that staple of music videos, the abandoned warehouse on the edge of town, and scenes from a comic book about a hero named "Def Leppard." 

Why, you bet we can take a closer look at the comic book.

Let me break in here to note that the lyrics to "Women" don't exactly describe the saga of a cosmic skateboarder who stumbles across an illegal Sex-Droid trade on the planet Doom. (They do, however, contain a call-and-response chorus where Phil, Steve, Rick, and Sav sing "Men! Men!" which always cracks me up) Neither would anyone confuse the guys in Def Leppard as feminist pioneers in pop metal sensibility. But hey: poetic license. 

Oh dear.

"What's that spell?
(Spell? what's that spell?)
(What's that spell?)
What's that spell?
(What's that spell?)
(Women, women)
Oh! oh! oh!
Oh! oh! oh!" 

Man, do I love this panel. And this one, too:

The song ends with the kind of harmonic dynamics (check out around the 4:20 mark) that make Hysteria such a feast for the ears. Grade: A


Hysteria was finally released 3 days before my 13th birthday, conveniently enough for me, and I spent the remaining weeks of my summer vacation listening to it over and over again. I had a nice vinyl copy, too. Let's have a song-by-song look at the rest of it. 

Keeping in mind, this is all just one guy's opinion, liberally sprinkled with biographical asides of dubious import.

2. "Rocket"

In the 80s this was the only song off the album that I didn't love. Not sure when that changed, but now I feel the same constant need to listen to it that I do for every other song on the damn thing. 


I was listening to this while cooking a few months back, and my wife walked into the kitchen and sang part of the chorus - "I'll be your satellite of love..." This seriously cracked me up, because my buddy Kevin - with whom I share any and all insights, anecdotes, funny-thoughts, or questions about anything music-related but most-particularly anything from the Dial-MTV era - have always sang that part as "SAY-A-LANE-A-LOH-OH-OH!" 

(The line is "Rocket! Ye-ah! Satellite of Love!" We just like to exaggerate it to the point of incomprehension.)

She further surprised me by saying "Oh all the stoners in high school used to listen to this." It had never occurred to me (Kevin neither, if I may speak for him) that this would be the case. And she was right - this is a fantastic song to listen to when you're smoking the wacky tabacky. Unless you live in a state where such things are still illegal, in which case, hey! That's llegal


This was the last single released off Hysteria, in January 1989, a full 18 months after the album was released. Another top 15 hit for the band.

The music video features clips of the classic rock names (Sgt. Pepper, Ziggy, Lou Reed, whose song "Satellite of Love" inspired the line-swipe above) from the lyrics are flashed during the video, along with footage of the various artists performing live or from Top of the Pops.


It also features some clips from the 1971 FA Cup Final, won by Arsenal, most notably a shot of Charlie George (club legend) hoisting the trophy above his head.


Arsenal's my Premiership team, so that suits me fine, but as the wiki notes, "this is a little odd, as 4 out of 5 members of the band at the time were from Sheffield and had made their support for Sheffield United or Sheffield Wednesday known to the public."

Dog Star Omnibus' calls to the band went unanswered. Grade: A

3. "Animal"

The second US single fared better than "Women," cracking the top 20. The music video went with a circus theme, for some reason.


I mean, the lyrics do mention that "the circus comes to town," but I'm not sure that's the right organizing principle for things. But again  - unimportant. What is important is how damn sweet-on-the-ears this song is, particularly that wonderful bridge of "I gotta' feel it in my blood, whoah-oh". I'm less sold on the middle-8 part with the modulated voice saying "Unh! Unh! AN-I-MAL!" which brings to mind the Muppets character. But it bounces back with the solo, and all is forgiven.

I am physically incapable of not clapping along with the handclaps at least once. It's like singing along with the chorus to Toto's "Africa." I defy you not to do it; if you can, that ain't discipline, it's something you should get checked out and properly diagnosed. Grade: A


The fifth single from the album, released a full year after it appeared, was Def Leppard's first US #1.

As 80s power ballads go, it's not my absolute favorite (I think that'd be "November Rain" though my buddy Mike and I occasionally threaten to get to the bottom of things re: power ballads one of these days in this here blog) but it's pretty much perfect. I don't think anyone can credibly claim otherwise - it hits all the right notes and then some.



Pretty great guitar, too, during the chorus. If you're unimpressed with how the guitars propel this album along just as much as the vocals or are unmoved by their abundant contribution to the expansive sound of Hysteria, chances are we don't belong on a road trip together. Grade: A-


Okay, so remember when I said it took people / my friends awhile to warm up to Hysteria? This was always the song that broke them down. I'd earmarked it as my favorite as early as August 1987, and I put it on most of the mix tapes I made my friends. I got the same reaction each time - "Oh wow, that song rocks." I felt some pride in this at the time. Absurdly. My pride turned to irritation by the late spring of '88, when it was released as the 3rd single and was blaring from every house party, car stereo, radio, and MTV within earshot 24-7.


It didn't help that the chicks in school who were into Madonna or what not suddenly started saying Def Leppard was their favorite band. Snort! Where ya been for the past 5 years? Can you sing the chorus to "Coming Under Fire" or "Hello America?" Do you even know who Pete Willis is?

Yeah, you read that right - it was when the popular chicks embraced Hysteria that my enthusiasm began to wane for it. Probably did that wrong.


Grade: A+. I mean, it's a perfect piece of pop metal, made for arenas and parties on yachts and dancing chicks and shirtless dudes. The lyrics make no damn sense, and gloriously so. (I'm still confused by the gender-direction of the whole thing, as well. If Frankie Goes to Hollywood or Culture Club had been singing this one, or Nicki Minaj, methinks there'd be a different spin on the pouring of any sugar.)


The title is a play on the Sheffield accent. The chorus for this one is "Are you getting it?" Not sure what we're getting or not getting - it's probably sex - but apparently the phonetic approximation of the affirmative answer is "Armageddon It."


That "Give me all of your loving" bridge is just so damn awesome. Like "Love Bites," it dips a little in the middle, but not by much and it quickly bounces back. Great guitars in this one, and great end to Side One. (Yes, damn it, Side One.) Grade: A.


Here's the only kinda-sorta out-of-place song on the whole album. Or perhaps it's the odd garnish that brings out the flavor of the stew, take your pick. It reminds me a bit of "Die Hard the Hunter" off Pyromania, conceptually not musically. The "On a countdown to zero / take a ride on this nightmare machine" bit is catchy and nicely done, and the ending sound collage of Reagan, bombs, and electronically-simulated gunfire is well-done. Grade: A-.

There was no music video for this one, so here's a picture of Joe Elliot in some crazy get-up with his then wife Karla.



Hysteria was designed on the Thriller - their old nemesis - principle, where every song could serve as a single in a pinch. It's interesting that every track on Side One was released a single but only one from Side Two (the title track - although until I sat down to revisit this album I'd assumed "Love and Affection" was as well. I was wrong). Here's one that had they released it as a single, it'd have landed big with me personally but probably not everyone else.

The lyrics on the whole album fascinate me. They're so artfully vague. Which allows them to be universally accessible, I suppose. The lyrics to this one, though, just flat-out make no sense. It opens with the band admonishing us to "Run for cover / don't shoot... / SHOOT!" whereupon a computer-voice tells us "She's so dangerous." A description that returns memorably for the bridge.

Does its lack of easy comprehension matter at all? Not in the slightest. In fact, it's probably even better for it. Home runs all around. Joe's "Shoot it! Don't shoot it!"s at the end are so fist-pumpingly awesome. Grade: A+.



9. "Run Riot"

We have reached my current favorite song from Hysteria. A sentence which amuses me all by itself. Who has two thumbs and keeps re-ranking his favorite songs from the album he got for his 13th birthday? You can't see me, but I'm doing the two-thumbs-pointed-at-self-and-nodding gesture. As Joe says after the first chorus, "Gotta' riot, babe."

That bit ("Gotta' riot, babe!") is so goddamn 80s. I can't express how awesomely awesome I find that line, nor how perfectly-80s it is delivered. I doubt that was the intent, but that's how it strikes me in 2015. 

Let's see how it fits with other notable personalities of the era -


Well, you get the idea. This song certainly doesn't need my gimmickry to sell it. It's a straight-up rocker in the vein of "Stagefright" from Pyromania but with a sound all its own. That riff that comes in after the first guitar (around the 8 second mark, and recalled just before the solo) is so cinematic to me. It's easy to picture an overhead shot of a school, doors bursting open, a flood of kids running out, or a montage of just about any kind of partying. Then Joe comes in, that pop-metal vocal range still so effortless. Grade: A+.

10. "Hysteria"


The fourth single released. Not much to say about this one - it's just such a sweet little tune. The opening guitar (recalled at just the right moment near the end), the layered harmonies, the sing-along-ability of the chorus, you name it. Just a perfect little blend of pop metal sensibility and beautifully executed. Grade: A+.

11. "Excitable"

Oh man! This is in my head constantly lately. Sure I'm listening to the album everyday, so it never really gets a chance to go away, but this one in particular. "Stand up! SAY YES! Stand up! COME ON! GET IN THE GROOOOOOVE!" That and the "Whoah-oh! Whoah-oh-oh!"s throughout get me fist-pumping like I'm auditioning for Jersey Shore or its 2015 equivalent. Also: a complex routine of arm-dances and pantomimes. Appropriate since (as revealed in Animal Instinct by David Fricke) "Excitable" was an attempt on the band's part to write a "Prince sort of number."

MELLOW DOWWN...

No music video for this one, either, so here's a picture of Phil and his wife Helen.

Why this was never a single I have no idea. Grade: A+.


The album comes to a close with this little number. As with the title track, there's really not too much to say except that it's just such a damn sweet little tune. Not cotton-candy-for-your-ears sort of sweet, either - the kind of multi-layered everything-in-harmony/ music-of-the-spheres typically associated with Brian Wilson or Lindsey Buckingham. Bit of irony, too, with the lyrics describing an emotional state the music doesn't. The build-up and payoff is one of my favorite things ever. Grade: A+.

~

Rolling Stone ranked Hysteria at 464 of their 500 Greatest Albums Ever Made. Par for the course at RS, but emblematic of a wider critical failure to properly appreciate and evaluate pop metal. And Def Leppard in particular. Pyromania alone earns the band all the respect in the world. Put it together with Hysteria and I don't know, man. That people can go about their daily routine and not stop at least once or twice a day to reflect on how much cooler their lives are for having them around strikes me as damn ungrateful.

All kidding aside, though, objectively, subjectively, and quantifiabily, Hysteria is for my money pop metal's reigning champ, and I couldn't be happier to have it stuck in my head for two months running. Again. Hopefully this won't last as long as it did the first time...

One last thing: I picked up Viva! Hysteria, the double-CD-with-DVD put out in 2013 that features Def Leppard running through the album start-to-finish.

Featuring Steve Clark's replacement, Vivian Campbell.
R.I.P., Steve.

Joe Elliot can't (understandably) hit the same notes he was hitting in the 80s, and he does this odd kind of impersonation-of-his-old-voice to approximate them. I'm not sure it's wholly successful - it torpedoes parts of certain songs, particularly "Excitable" - but for what it's worth the versions of "Gods of War" and "Don't Shoot Shotgun" on there are good. The playing all around is pretty solid, actually, though it's of course no substitute for the original album experience.

The other disc is Def Leppard's "opening act," Ded Flatbird and is great. Billing themselves as "the world's greatest Def Leppard cover band," the band (in costume and alter ego) runs through a set of old classics and b-sides and deep tracks like "Rock Brigade" ("Keep your eyes on the Rock Brigade! (Rock Brigade!)") "Undefeated," "Another Hit and Run" and more. Great stuff, and worth a listen.

~
All songs written and composed by Steve Clark, Phil Collen, Joe Elliott, Mutt Lange and Rick Savage. All links active as of August 18, 2015. Hopefully on whatever date you click them, as well.

51 comments:

  1. A solid filing. I am still pretty keen on "Photograph". It might be fave Lep tune. Can I say Lep?

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  2. Absolutely re: Lep. And fuck to the yeah on "Photograph." What a tune that one is.

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  3. Animal and Love Bites. Great stuff. Def Leppard is more in the Journey / Foreigner vein that the Crüe / Ratt vein, no?

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    1. They're all in the pop metal maelstrom for me, personally. Pyromania and Hysteria seem more cohesive album-as-art offerings than anything by any of those, tho individual songs rival the best of anything Def Leppard did, certainly.

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  4. When you're just a kid, one of the things you've yet to acquire is good musical taste. I never really warmed to the music vids of the 80s when i was a kid. I get a kick out of them now, more or less, but back then my basic attitude was: "Stop taking time away from Bugs and Daffy!"

    Such is what passes for insight to five year old. These days, like a lot of 80s tykes, I'm playing catch up, "and loving it!"

    My digging Leppard came from hearing "Photograph" once or twice and wondering who the hell is that band?! The irony is Stephen King mentioned them once and it was all right under my nose. The title song of the album is what cemented it for me, and I've listened to them a lot since.

    "Animal" and "Armageddon it" are also among my favorites, though, reiterate, I'm still playing catch up.

    ChrisC

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    1. Rock of ages! Rock of ages! Still a'rollin'! Yeah, rock-and-rollin'!!

      AND IF YOU HEAR IT, SAY YEAAHH!!

      Rock on, sir.

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    2. p.s. If you're unfamiliar with this gem from Pyromania, it is essential in my book:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuCJ5nRP6d0

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    3. As for the question of where Leppard falls on the scale of musical genres. For my part, (Metal-heads all over the world are gonna kill me for this) i always saw the band as being similar to ones like Led Zeppelin, or singers like Robert Fripp or Jimmy Page. They were artists whose sound in some way may have contributed to what became Metal, yet ultimately their own sound is a bit more mainstream (for lack of a better word, and i don't mean that as a slight on their quality in the least).

      I think I'd apply the same bands like Dokken (anybody remember them?) or Blue Oyster Cult for that matter. Not that i think it should be made any kind of big deal really.

      ChrisC

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    4. Do I remember Dokken!! Is water wet? "Lightning Strikes Again" is another placeholder for showing people what 80s metal felt like at the time.

      You've got to be the only person I've ever met who is suggesting Robert Fripp (who, as far as I know, was never a singer) is mainstream! Unless you meant Robert Plant?

      But ultimately you're right: genre classification is fairly unimportant. It's hugely important when you're, like, 14, to be sure, and I get annoyed when people make "Best Of" lists without trying to group things by genre. But besides that, it's all rock and roll.

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    5. To be fair, I was trying to recall Plant's name for the earlier post above, yet it just wouldn't come to mind. As for Fripp, the reason I was able to associate him with mainstream was because aside from King Crimson (also sorta introduced to me by King), most of my current knowledge of Fripp comes from his collaborations with both Peter Gabriel and, I think, didn't he collaborate with Frank Zappa on some of the Capt. Beefheart albums.

      As for Dokken, I think "Don't Lie to Me" is slowly becoming my anthem for our current corporate media circus (or rather the "real" psycho circus).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzEE3w6gvNA

      Also, they're the band that did "this":

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDveKxl7Ohs

      Curiously, the vid itself is another example of the blurring of Rock/Metal boundaries. Dokken is another band that many Metal fans have claimed for themselves, and yet the video (and by proxy the band itself?) declares the music to be straight up Rock n' Roll. I can see how either label would apply, actually.

      ChrisC

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  5. A brief word about "Pyromania" -- it is fantastic. I'd rank "Photograph" as a nearly-perfect pop song (or rock song, or whatever label you want to put on it). My personal favorite song on that album, though, is "Too Late For Love," which I hope will someday be put to awesome use in an awesome movie so that everyone will once again know the power of its rock.

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    1. Every song is a classic on Pyromania. "Too Late" is brilliant. Here are my favorites in order.

      1. Rock of Ages
      2. Photograph

      (so close that they might as well be tied, there, but Rock of Ages is what hooked me on Def Leppard, so I'll give that one the nod)

      3. Coming Under Fire
      4. that weird electronic-loop-with-drums at the end of Side 2 after the "Bang Bang" of "Billy's Got a Gun."
      5. Too Late (for Love)
      6. Billy's Got a Gun
      7. Foolin'
      8. Die Hard the Hunter
      9. Stagefright
      10. Rock Rock Til You Drop
      11. Action! Not Words

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    2. compelled to list my Pyromania ranking:

      Foolin' (I think it's the one that sold me)
      Comin' Under Fire
      Stagefright
      Photograph
      Rock Of Ages
      Too Late!
      Rock! Rock!
      Action!
      Billy's Got A Gun
      Die Hard The Hunter

      Great post Bryan. Makes you almost wanna pick up Adrenalize.

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    3. Stagefright over Photograph? I love it! Sincerely. Basically, I love every song on Pyromania and Hysteria, so any ranking at all works for me.

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  6. "Women" -- Nope, I don't think that would pass muster in 2015. Not for the non-feminist viewpoints (which I'm not sure actually exist), but for the suggestion that men can't live without women. Some men prefer to live without women. Apparently some men prefer to live AS women. It's all very confusing.

    The art on that comic book is better than you'd expect from something that was produced for a metal video. I wonder if anyone ever actually made physical copies of it?

    Did you notice that part in the video where the word "motley" is on one of the crates? I wonder if that was a dig at Motley Crue...

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    1. I did - almost screencapped it, as well, but things had already gotten out of hand... I don't know if they were buddies or rivals or enemies. So either a dig or a namecheck.

      I wonder who did the art. I tried to find out but no luck. Anyone know?

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  7. "Rocket" was always one of my favorite songs on the album. I must have listened to it 478,000 times during 1989 alone.

    To illustrate how moronic I was, I got NONE of the allusions to people like Elton John and David Bowie until years later. I didn't have any idea what they were singing about; I was just there for the riff and the drums. You'd figure the images in the video would have tipped me off, which is exactly what happened...eventually.

    I always heard the chorus line as "Set a light aloft." That was a problem with Def Leppard; clarity in the lyrics was not a top priority.

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    1. Me neither re: those allusions. Once I learned the full panorama/ history of metal and saw where / when/ how I jumped into things, it made me appreciate things like "Rocket" much more than I had.

      It's funny - bands like the Crue and G'n'R made a lot out of their "influences" once they got into the 90s and metal lost its popularity. Suddenly they wanted everyone to believe they weren't REALLY into the LA 80s metal scene - what they really wanted to get across was an enduring love for glam rock, David Bowie, or obscure yesteryear punk or post-punk bands that had 90s cred. It was kind of pathetic, actually.

      But here's Def Leppard, with the definitive proof that they weren't just following the crowd at chow-time; they wore their influences proudly. I'll say that for Maiden, too. Good show, fellers.

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  8. "Animal" -- God damn, I love that song.

    I wonder about the circus aspect, too, but the video is terrific. It may have been nothing more complicated than somebody listening to the song, hearing "circus," and having a lightbulb come on over their head.

    My guess? It's an attempt to reinforce the idea that a band on tour essentially IS a traveling circus. Some might call it a psycho circus.

    The video makes me remember that it was through one of the videos -- maybe even this one -- that I learned Rick Allen had only one arm. I was watching, noticed something seemed to be missing, and suddenly had a new favorite drummer. That dude is so solid that I figure you could probably chop that other arm off and he'd still be alright. Just give him a few more foot pedals. I admire the extent to which the videos kept him front-and-center, too; you've got to figure some PR hack out there was against it, and the band set their asses straight immediately.

    We are in agreement on that middle 8. Not a fan.

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    1. Yeah, the way the band did right by Rick is certainly a feather in their cap.

      Nice re: psycho circus.

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  9. "Love Bites" -- Not only is this NOT my favorite power ballad, it's not even my favorite power ballad on this album. (We'll get there.)

    This is not to suggest that I dislike "Love Bites." I don't. I love that song so much, and connect it so strongly with the person I was from, say, 1988-1992 that I'm seriously fighting back tears typing this. What a pussy sentence that is! It's true, though.

    From a production standpoint, that might be the best song on the album. Maybe.

    Love the bass line at the beginning.

    The vocal stuff at the very end...what is that all about? I always mentally connected it with the sci-fi imagery on the album cover. From there, though, I've got no idea. It goes in the "shrug" file.

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    1. I meant to mention in the review itself but it's odd: this is an album I strongly associate with the 87-89 period of my life, and yet... I can't think of a single formative-years thing I associate with this. Some songs you hear and remember fun personal times or watershed events or even lyrics that capture some feeling or perspective on something - and yet "Hysteria" has none of these things for me. I love the crap out of it (obviously) and certainly it is a bridge to that era of my life, acoustically, but all the odder for not having a "Oh, this is when me-and-so-and-so did such-and-such" association.

      I have a barbershop quartet arrangement of this in my head that I really need to get out someday. I was thinking of trying to get some folks together, actually, for a whole set of barbershop versions of 80s classics. This sounds like it'd be fun and I can even conceivably see such a thing being locally popular. Plenty of street-fests and such in Chicago and the 40-something demographic would support it. But, easier said than done.

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    2. A barbershop quartet doing eighties songs...? That's your ticket to the big leagues, boyo. Get it done!

      I get what you're saying when you refer to not having any actual associations based around the album. I've only got a few; and for the most part, they tend to be slippery and vague. But powerful nonetheless.

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  10. A brief sidebar to address something I forgot to mention a couple of songs ago:

    Anyone who fights against the majesty of "Africa" by Toto is a fool. A fool, I say! Gonna take some time to do the things we never have; yessir, indeed.

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    1. I recently went a little crazy (well, "recently" and "a little") and lined up Toto's discography and went through it all. A surprising (or perhaps unsurprising) amount of decent material, punctuated here and there by the truly great ("Africa," "I'll Be Over You", "Rosanna" many more) and here and there by the "Wow... you guys were coked and 'luded, eh?"

      But it was fun and I get a kick out of seeing those discs in my 80s folder. I might break one out today actually for when it's omelet-making time.

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    2. Did this listen-through include the "Dune" soundtrack? It's the only Toto I own.

      I don't actually know much of theirs beyond their biggest hits, but I suspect I'd enjoy taking a spin through their stuff someday.

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    3. It did! And I suspect you would.

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    4. p.s. Does it surprise anyone I'm here in the comments again because I clicked on the post and listened to the last 5 songs of the album? If so, I completely failed in my original task...

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    5. Hah! No, that doesn't surprise me at all. If anything, I'm surprised you limited yourself to five tracks.

      Speaking of Toto, did you know that John Williams' son Joseph was in the band for a while as their lead vocalist? He was apparently only there for a couple of their albums (none of which were during what somebody would be likely to consider a peak-Toto era), but returned at some point and is one of the current members.

      I learned this accidentally while reading something about John Williams recently and said, "Hmm, must leave comment at Dog Star Omnibus."

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  11. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" -- I can see how this song (and especially the resultant mainstreaming of the group) would have put a fan off their fandom. Not me. This is where my (admittedly brief) love affair with Def Leppard began.

    I'm sure I'd heard at least a few of their other songs on MTV, but I can remember seeing this video for the first time and sitting there with my jaw slack. All my attention was fixed; it was as though something -- almost certainly THE TRUTH -- was being beamed directly into my brain. I couldn't move. Even if I could have, I wouldn't have. Why would I? The rock was right here; why go somewhere else?

    I'd still rank it as one of the all-time great rock songs.

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    1. Me, too. How can you not? Anyone whose list for such DOESN'T have this one is suspect. Even if you don't like it (which seems insane but hey, the insane exist) you have to recognize it belongs on such a list.

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    2. As for the gender-confused lyrics...here in the south, we've got the saying "give me some sugar," which basically just means "give me a kiss." So that's how I always interpreted the song. I must have been in my twenties (if not thirties) before it finally dawned on me that Joe probably meant something else.

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  12. "Armageddon It" -- Of all the songs on "Hysteria," this is the one that sounds the most like something off of "Pyromania" to me. Not that it matters.

    It also sounds as if maybe Joe Elliott is channeling Mick Jagger toward the beginning of this song. That's probably just my imagination.

    I suspect I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why that was the title, and why they didn't just call the song "Are You Getting It." I, as it turns out, was not getting it. ("It" in this instance referring to the pun.)

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    1. Joe channeling Mick - very possible!

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  13. "Gods of War" -- I don't dislike the song, but it's probably my least favorite song on the album.

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    1. Me, too. I do like it, tho, particularly the bridge. Or first bridge, I should say. ("On a countdown to zero/ take a ride on this nightmare machine / whoah-oh-oh!")

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  14. "Don't Shoot Shotgun" -- Boy, you're right; those lyrics make zero sense. If memory serves, I mostly never cared all that much what a song was about until I started listening to bands like U2, who actually put effort into what the songs were about.

    Which sounds like I'm being snarky, but I'm not. Music is about emotion first and foremost, and a song like "Don't Shoot Shotgun" certainly engages the emotions. So what does it matter if the lyrics make no sense? Doesn't matter at all.

    That said, when I couldn't understand what they were singing about back in the day, I always assumed it was because I was a moron and just didn't get it. And as I'm happy to admit, that was correct about half the time.

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    1. I'll never understand this one. And I'm happy about that.

      Great tune, though. Don't shoot! ... SHOOT!

      Maybe it's the pov of a schizophrenic wild west sheriff or something. Hallucinations from beyond the prairie, brought on by horrible hygiene and diet and sleeping outside. Or something. I'll go with that for now.

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    2. I think it's a sojourn into the confused and disorderly mind of a psychotic killer considering whether to go on a rampage or ease back on the throttle.

      I don't actually think that, but hey, could be.

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  15. "Run Riot" -- This song kicks ALL the ass.

    That collection of eighties personalities saying "Gotta' riot, babe" is priceless. Those should be t-shirts.

    This song might be Rick Allen's best work on the album, too. That dude was something else. And you know what? I bet he got the best groupies, too. Betcha anything.

    "They lock me up! They let me out!" God damn right.

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    1. Glad I have an ally on this one! And glad someone appreciates the 80s "Gotta' riot, babe!" pics. I wanted to keep going, but figured it would be overkill.

      Of course, metal IS overkill. Gotta' riot, babe.

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  16. "Hysteria" -- THAT'S my favorite power ballad. Except maybe for "Sweet Child O' Mine." I'd say someone should put those two in a steel-cage match to fight it out, but I don't want either one to lose.

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    1. I'll give "November Rain" (or even "Patience," though I personally consider acoustic-songs not to be contenders for power ballads; they have to have a soaring electric guitar solo, so at least "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" would still be in the running, despite being mostly acoustic) the nod over "Sweet Child," myself, but we're quibbling over percentage points, here, not substance.

      And yeah, "Hysteria" is just such a sweet little tune. Another one where the way the vocal elements combine and re-arrange during the last minute-and-a-half activate every pleasure center in my brain.

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    2. It's another one of those that seems like a perfect evocation of an era to me. Whether that is because it actually is, or because I listened to that song about three quadrillion times during that era and therefore cannot help but make the associations, I do not know. But I think it's probably both; generally speaking, songs don't become huge hits for no reason. I guess a song COULD be era-definingly evocative on accident; but I kind of doubt it.

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  17. "Excitable" -- I think I'd mostly forgotten about this song; I don't know how, because it rocks. It seems to have been custom-designed to be a rousing live-show anthem. Also, to get girls in the front rows to flash the band. If so, I can't fault anyone.

    Alternative comment: I could be wrong, but I think this song is about fucking.

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    1. This may be my favorite tune off the album now. See how fast things change since Tuesday! I just can't get this out of my head.

      And kids, the last time Joe comes in with his "You know I get! So!" where he's belting it out at a higher octave than previous is EXACTLY what this sort of thing (what I keep calling pop metal) was all about.

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  18. "Love and Affection" -- This one was never one of my favorites, but listening to it now, I don't know why. Pop really doesn't get much slicker than this.

    The subtleties of the lyrics were entirely lost on me back in the day. Why should that be the case? I mean, he says "DON'T" plain as day. I think it goes back to the fact that the emotion of the song always hits me before the lyrics, sometimes to such an extent that the lyrics may as well be in Mandarin.

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    1. Glad you agree on this one. The last minute or so really hits every pleasure center in my brain.

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  19. Summary:

    Even better than I remembered. I probably hadn't listened to the full album in a couple of decades, and I'd forgotten just how good it really is. My biggest memory of it is of it being in non-stop rotation at the gym where I worked out during my high-school-football days. It's a near-perfect soundtrack to that time of my life.

    But I also remember listening to it on my yellow Walkman a lot, especially on road trips. It plays just as well as a soundtrack for introspection; well, SOME of the songs do, at least.

    For reasons unclear to me, I didn't keep up with what Def Leppard did after "Hysteria." I kind of feel bad about that, now.

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    1. Amen, brother!

      By the time Hysteria finally faded from the radios everywhere, I was into other bands (u2, Sonic Youth, Dead Kennedys, etc.) So by the time Adrenalize came out, I didn't care to pick it up. Or any of the others.

      I'm happy to report I made up for lost time the past week and listened to all of their post-Hysteria output. Verdict: meh. A lot of it isn't bad, but like many pop metal bands who put out stuff in the 90s, they kind of lost their way. Plus, Joe's vocal range was definitely a younger man's game, so the older he gets, the harder the "Def Leppard" sound is to pull off. Not that bands don't change, etc., just vocal chords do, as well.

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    2. I think I might actually have bought "Adrenalize," but if so, I can't have listened to it much. Looking over the track titles, not a one of them rings any bells.

      It's sad to consider that a band could be (as Def Leppard was) as on-to-of-the-world as on top of the world gets, only to then fall into relative obscurity. You've got to figure they're sitting there thinking, "Damn it, we're doing what you guys have always responded to, but now you're not responding to it any more!" I don't think I'd handle that too well.

      The good news for them is that they can almost certainly make a killing by touring on their hits from now until the end of time. As long as there are people our age, there are going to be people who at the very least love their memories of Def Leppard; and that's better than most bands will ever be able to claim.

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