Saturday, July 23, 1988

Def Leppard hit #2 with “Pour Some Sugar on Me”

First posted 11/27/2020.

Pour Some Sugar on Me

Def Leppard

Writer(s): Joe Elliott; Phil Collen; Rick Savage; Robert John "Mutt" Lange; Steve Clark (see lyrics here)


Released: September 8, 1987


First Charted: September 19, 1987


Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 11 RR, 25 AR, 18 UK, 22 CB, 26 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.4 UK, 0.9 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 137.9 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The band were behind schedule in recording their Hysteria album, but producer Mutt Lange felt they still hadn’t nailed down a strong crossover hit. He was wrong on that point, considering the album sent four songs into the top 10 of the Billboard pop charts and had two more top-20 hits, but his instincts arguably produced the most important song of Def Leppard’s career.

After Lange heard singer Joe Elliott playing a riff he’d developed on acoustic guitar, he thought it had the potential to be the hit he was seeking, saying, according to Elliott, “That’s the best hook I’ve heard in over five years.” SF When the rest of the band came back in the studio, they rolled their eyes when Elliott and Lange said they had a new song, but were sold once they heard it. SF Within two weeks – by far the fastest they’d worked on a song SF – it had been fleshed out into the final track recorded for the album. WK

Elliott and Lange wrote separate lyrics for the song and then listened to each other’s contributions. Elliott cited several songs as inspiration. He said it was done in the style of T-Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” SF and that it was partially inspired by the Run-D.M.C.’s version of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” As he said, “All of a sudden, rock and rap did mix, so we wrote our own.” WK He’s also said the line “pour a little sugar on me, baby” from the Archies’ 1969 hit “Sugar Sugar” (the first record Elliott ever bought) was at least subconscious inspiration. SF

“Pour Some Sugar on Me” didn’t end up as highest-charting song from Hysteria (“Love Bites” reached #1) nor was it the first single. It did, however, become their signature hit. WK It effectively had a year-long chart life, thanks to staggered appearances on various charts. It was first released in the UK in September 1987 as the second single from the Hysteria album after “Animal” in July. In the U.S., the song made its first appearance as an album cut on the mainstream rock chart in January 1988. However, it wasn’t released as an official single in America until April 1988, making it the fourth single after “Women” (August 1987), “Animal” (September 1987), and the title cut from the Hysteria album (January 1988).

The song climbed the Billboard Hot 100 for three months, eventually peaking at #2, held back from the top spot by Richard Marx’s “Hold on to the Nights.” The success of the song pushed the Hysteria album to #1 after it had been out more than a year. In 1991, MTV ranked “Pour Some Sugar on Me” the #1 video of all time. In 2006, VH1 ranked it the #2 song of the ‘80s. WK


Resources and Related Links:

Def Leppard finally hit #1 with Hysteria

First posted 3/6/2008; updated 11/27/2020.

Hysteria

Def Leppard


Released: August 3, 1987


Peak: 16 US, 11 UK, 15 CN, 13 AU


Sales (in millions): 12.0 US, 0.6 UK, 22.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rock/hair band


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Women (8/1/87, 80 US, 7 AR)
  2. Rocket (2/11/89, 12 US, 15 UK, 5 AR)
  3. Animal (8/1/87, 19 US, #6 UK, #5 AR)
  4. Love Bites (7/16/88, 1 US, 11 UK, 3 AR)
  5. Pour Some Sugar on Me (9/19/87, 2 US, 18 UK, 25 AR, sales: ½ million)
  6. Armageddon It (4/9/88, 3 US, 20 UK, 3 AR)
  7. Gods of War
  8. Don’t Shoot Shotgun
  9. Run Riot
  10. Hysteria (9/12/87, 10 US, 26 UK, 9 AR)
  11. Excitable
  12. Love and Affection


Total Running Time: 62:32


The Players:

  • Joe Elliott (vocals)
  • Steve Clark (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Phil Collen (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Rick Savage (bass, backing vocals)
  • Rick Allen (drums, backing vocals)

Rating:

4.344 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)


Quotable: “Arguably the best pop-metal ever recorded.” – Steve Huey, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Def Leppard broke through with 1983’s Pyromania, an album which “introduced a new form of highly polished, melodic heavy rock.” TB It was so successful many assumed the band couldn’t reach those heights again. They began work on an intended quick follow-up in late ’84, TB but were derailed on New Year’s Eve when drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car accident. To their credit, the group “stuck by their old mate,” RS going on hiatus for most of 1985 TB and waiting for him to learn to play drums with a customized drum set built which allowed him to trigger fills with his feet. PR

During that time, they started producing an album with “Mutt” Lange, who’d produced Pyromania, which was to be named Animal Instinct. After Lange dropped out, the band enlisted Meat Loaf songwriter Jim Steinman. He, however, was more interested in a raw rock record while the band wanted a more pristine sound. The band then tried unsuccessfully to self-produce the album. WK

After Allen’s accident, work slowed, but the band stuck by their drummer’s plan “to return to the drum kit despite his disability, using a combination electronic/acoustic kit with a set of foot pedals that triggered…the hits he would have played with his left arm.” WK Eventually, Lange returned, but sessions were delayed again when he suffered injuries from a car accident and then once more when singer Joe Elliott was hit with the mumps in 1986. WK

The eventual release was “three years in the making at a cost of a cool million.” PR However, instead of flopping, the resulting album was “probably Def Leppard’s best album, and certainly their most successful.” AZ Not only that, “Hysteria pretty much sums up 80s hard rock: catchy, tuneful, and fun.” AZ “Where Pyromania had set the standard for polished, catchy pop-metal, Hysteria only upped the ante.” AMG “It’s also one of the few albums from the period that doesn’t sound dated now.” AZ

Reportedly, Lange’s goal was to make the album “a hard rock version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, in that every track was a potential hit single.” WK Like Pyromania, the members of the band were brought in separately to record. WK “The multiple vocal harmonies were enhanced by Lange’s techniques…[and] guitar parts were now focused more on emphasising melody than hard rock’s more basic and cliched riffs.” WK

Not surprisingly, “some critics dismissed the record as a stiff, mechanized pop sell-out.” AMG While the album had “production value bleeding from its pores” ZG and was “dripping in clichés,” ZG its “unavoidably addictive hits” ZG showed that “few…pop-metal bands…could compete with Leppard’s sense of craft; certainly none had the pop songwriting savvy to produce seven chart singles from the same album.” AMG

People may forget, though, what a slow burner it was. When the first U.S. single, Women peaked at a lowly #80, the forces behind the band had to be a little concerned. After all, the usual expectation is for each album’s singles to hit a little lower than its predecessors. However, Hysteria defied the odds. In the U.K., Animal was the first single and went top ten. When it was released as the second U.S. single, it returned the band to more familiar territory – the top 20, where Pyromania singles “Photograph” and “Rock of Ages” had settled in as well. Follow-up singles in the U.S. were even bigger. The title cut, Hysteria, got the band in the top ten for the first time stateside.

Then the “playfully silly anthem Pour Some Sugar on MeAMG took the band all the way to #2 and, with the album nearly a year old, finally took the album to the top of the charts. With the album showing no signs of letting up, the band released its fifth, and biggest, U.S. single – the #1 Love Bites, “one of the few pop-metal ballads that doesn’t sound saccharine.” AZ Next up, “Armageddon It” gave the band another top 5 and then the “British glam rock tribute RocketAMG landed the group in the top 20 once more.

“The strong pop hooks and ‘perfect’-sounding production of Hysteria may not appeal to die-hard heavy metal fans, but it isn’t heavy metal – it’s pop-metal, and arguably the best pop-metal ever recorded. Its blockbuster success helped pave the way for a whole new second wave of hair metal bands, while proving that the late-‘80s musical climate could also be very friendly to veteran hard rock acts, a lead many would follow in the next few years.” AMG “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.” AZ


Notes: A 2006 deluxe edition of the album added a second CD with the original B-sides and bonus tracks from the same era.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Def Leppard
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Mutt Lange
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Steve Huey
  • AZ Amazon.com review by Genevieve Williams
  • PR Paul Roland (2001). CD Guide to Pop & Rock. B.T. Batsford LTD: London. Page 75.
  • RS Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 235.
  • WK Wikipedia
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY. Page 84.

Public Enemy charted with It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

First posted 7/23/2011; updated 6/14/2019.

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

Public Enemy


Released: 6/28/1988


Charted: 7/23/1988


Peak: #42 US, #8 UK,


Sales (in millions): 1.72 US, 0.1 UK, 1.82 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rap


Quotable: “A record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Countdown to Armageddon
  2. Bring the Noise (2/6/88, #32 UK, #56 RB)
  3. Don’t Believe the Hype (7/16/88, #18 UK, #18 RB)
  4. Cold Lampin’ with Flavor
  5. Terminator X to the Edge of the Panic
  6. Mind Terrorist
  7. Louder Than a Bomb
  8. Caught, Can We Get a Witness?
  9. Show ‘Em Whatcha Got
  10. She Watch Channel Zero?!
  11. Night of the Living Baseheads (11/12/88, #63 UK, #62 RB)
  12. Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos (4/22/89, #86 RB)
  13. Security of the First World
  14. Rebel without a Pause (11/21/87, #37 UK)
  15. Prophets of Rage
  16. Party for Your Right to Fight

Review:

Nation isn’t just considered to be the greatest rap album ever made by many, but is considered “one of the greatest and most influential albums of all-time” WK in any genre. The group itself has said they “set out to make what they considered to be the hip hop equivalent to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, an album noted for its strong social commentary.” WK

“Welding Chuck D’s hectoring black-power agenda to the equality militant sound of the Bomb Squad’s apocalyptic sample barrage, the fierce Nation made traditional rock & roll posturing seem museum-bound.” BLYo! Bum Rush the Show was an invigorating record, but it looks like child’s play compared to its monumental sequel, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, a record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do. That’s not to say the album is without precedent, since what’s particularly ingenious about the album is how it reconfigures things that came before into a startling, fresh, modern sound. Public Enemy used the template Run-D.M.C. created of a rap crew as a rock band, then brought in elements of free jazz, hard funk, even musique concrète, via their producing team, the Bomb Squad, creating a dense, ferocious sound unlike anything that came before.” STE

“This coincided with a breakthrough in Chuck D’s writing, both in his themes and lyrics.” STE “Chuck D. scared the hell out of America’s white parents with lyrics that praised Louis Farrakhan and a delivery that made retributive black violence seem inevitable, rational and – egad! – cool.” TL

“It’s not that Chuck D was smarter or more ambitious than his contemporaries – certainly, KRS-One tackled many similar sociopolitical tracts, while Rakim had a greater flow – but he marshaled considerable revolutionary force, clear vision, and a boundless vocabulary to create galvanizing, logical arguments that were undeniable in their strength.” STE As Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn said, Chuck D “isn’t afraid of being labeled an extremist, and it’s that fearless bite – or game plan – that helps infuse his black-consciousness raps with the anger and assult of punk pioneers like the Sex Pistols and Clash.” WK

Chuck D’s “deeply felt and commercially calculated radicalism was best expressed in Bring the Noise and Rebel Without a Pause, whip-smart, reference-filled songs saved from pretension by Flavor Flav, rap’s greatest hype man, who even makes the prison break in Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos seem like daffy fun.” TL

“Some of the song titles make reference to other works from popular culture. The song title ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ is a play on Rebel Without a Cause, a film from 1955 starring actor James Dean. The title of the track Louder Than a Bomb was influenced by the title of The Smiths’ album Louder Than Bombs. The title of the song Party for Your Right to Fight is a rerrangement of the Beastie Boys’ 1987 hit single ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)’.” WK

“Producers Bill Stephney, Hank Shocklee, and Terminator X – known as The Bomb Squad – laced every track with siren-wails and funk explosives that ratcheted the tension ever higher.” TL They developed “a dense and chaotic production style that relied on found sounds and avant-garde noise as much as it did on old-school funk.” WK Shocklee has said, “Chuck’s a powerful rapper. We wanted to make something that could sonically stand up to him.” WK

“What’s amazing is how the words and music become intertwined, gaining strength from each other. Though this music is certainly a representation of its time, it hasn’t dated at all. It set a standard that few could touch then, and even fewer have attempted to meet since.” STE


Review Source(s):


Awards: