Saturday, July 23, 1988

Def Leppard finally hit #1 with Hysteria

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


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


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)


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 clich├ęs,” 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 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.

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