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30 years of Hysteria

Posted by Cheryl Norman on

August 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Def Leppard's 'Hysteria', their fourth studio album and best selling of their career. To celebrate, the band released a double 180 gram digitally remastered vinyl LP pressing complete with poster. Alerting us to its release long before it was on our radar - asking may she please preorder - was Hysteria fan and former Muses team member, Cheryl. We asked Cheryl to tell us what Hysteria means to her. 

School was out, year 12 done and dusted, youth and freedom was on my side. Driving my little 1970 Corolla, windows down, ash tray over flowing with cigarette butts, cassette tapes laying on the floor or seat and even on the dash, except in summer of course. Those other cassettes hardly got played, my little car with its crappy stereo had just one tape on high rotation that summer, Def Leppard’s Hysteria.

Thirty years ago I was working at John Martin’s in the Record Bar. Filed under D in the vinyl racks I didn’t pay any attention to Hysteria, I hadn’t even heard of Def Leppard. I was listening to Top 40 stuff, Whitney Houston, The Bangles, Michael Jackson, INXS and we were able to watch these artists in our homes on TV through programs like Video Hits and Trax.

And so there it was, on a Saturday morning and my 30 year love affair with Def Leppard and Hysteria started.

I recall the host of the music show talking about this one armed drummer, Rick Allen. During the making of this album he had been in a car accident, rolled his Corvette, severing his left arm. He had an electronic foot pedal drum kit made especially for him and the host advised us to keep a look out for him in the video clip. The song they debut that day was “Animal” set in a circus. Right then and there I was blown away by this catchy melodic pop rock sound, layered guitar riffs, processed drums, slick harmonies and of course the singer Joe Elliott, his flowing mane of long, loosely permed hair, no doubt held in place by industrial hairspray.…oh my. I don’t even know if I took any notice of the drummer.

In 1984 Def Leppard started their 4th studio album on the back of their success in the US of their Pyromania album. Hooking up with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange once again, his vision for this album was to be a rock version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, if Thriller could have single after single, hit after hit, so could Hysteria. Mutt’s production was an exacting and time consuming recording process experimenting with layering vocals, guitars, synthesised drum beats and sampling sounds. It took a toll on everyone. Incredulously it was to take Def Leppard 4 years, 4 producers, a life changing car accident, threats of the band disbanding and production costs blow outs to release Hysteria. According to Joe Elliott, Hysteria was “a labour of love”, an understatement I think.

But finally Hysteria was released in August 1987 to worldwide success. Born out of lengthy delays and near abandonment, Hysteria went on to chart 7 singles in the US Hot 100 and stayed in the charts for 3 years with sales excessive today of 25 million copies.

So why do I love Hysteria so much? I can’t exactly say why. I guess it was the soundtrack of my youth, I loved it then and I still love it now. As a young female in the late 80’s Def Leppard had me singing into my hairbrush with their power ballads, Love Bites, Hysteria and Love and Affection. The catchy Animal, Women, Rocket, Pour Some Sugar On Me and Armageddon It (say it slowly….yes I got it…whatever it was!) these were easy songs to digest and sing along to. This was an album of 12 slick rock anthemed songs, track after track of big production and big hits. These guys had the looks, they had the sound and they had that certain something that was everything the 80’s were.

I no longer sing in to my hair brush; like Hysteria, I am also 30 years older but I still put Hysteria on high rotation to this day, I turn the volume up and sing along with Joe Elliott’s gravelly vocals, tap to the drum beats of The Thunder God Rick Allen, nod my head to the bass guitar of Rick “Sav” Savage, sound out those multi layered guitar riffs with both Phil Collen and of course not forgetting, never forgetting the late great White Lightning Steve Clark; still loving each and every song 30 years later…….especially in my car.