Def Leppard-Hysteria, 1987
Background-You all know it, but here it is anyhow. These guys were riding high after the Pyromania tour ended. Then drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in an accident in late 1984. They went through a trying period where everyone was wondering what they would do, but they soldiered on and Allen stayed behind the kit. They returned and played the Monsters of rock festival in 1986 and it was obvious they would be back soon. So their next album was one of the most anticipated releases of 1987.
First Impression-I was very disappointed when I first heard this the week it came out. I couldn't believe this was the same band that had done High -n- dry and Pyromania. Bottom line was this album didn't rock, it seemed like over processed, limp pop music with all the emphasis on the vocals and drums. I have not listened to the whole album in maybe fifteen years so it's time to give it another spin.
Women-The opener has a lot of build up with a big synthesized drum sound coming on.The vocals are good, but it just mainly seems like drums and vocals and everything else is buried. It's almost like there's no life to it until the chorus and even that's just alright. I kind of like the solo, but it could have used more of that guitar sound in the rest of the song.
Rocket-Another long build-up with lots of ohhhs and ewwws, but not much guitar or at least not in the foreground. Another simple chorus here and there and the track just kind of meanders around repeating the chorus hear and there.
Animal-Wow it actually opens with a guitar rhythm although slightly watered down. It quickly calms down a bit though. This is easily better than the previous tracks. It only reaches a lukewarm level as a rock song though, but the vocals are a plus.
Love Bites-Slow beginning as they kind of noodle around for over a minute. Then of course eventually a big chorus comes on and those seem to be the highlight of most of the songs here. Really this one is dreadfully dull and these guys used to be so good at handling slow tracks and making them interesting.
Pour some sugar on me-Big drums and a little guitar sound start it off then the vocals come in and the guitar picks up a little. To me this is just very pop with all of the life sucked out of it. I struggled to make it through the whole thing.
Armageddon It-The guitar comes on sounding like something from the previous album for a few seconds then it starts to sound like Robert Palmer or something. Again this is the same formula with minimal guitar, big drums and vocals with a loud simple chorus. This song is slightly more engaging than some of the others, but nothing great.
Gods of war-Begins slow, but it has me sort of interested initially. Very smooth sound and overall a bit more even mix than some of the other tracks. Overall it's a much better attempt at making the band more pop sounding without giving up too much. Although I am not convinced they did enough to maintain it for the over six minutes that this track runs.
Don't shoot shotgun-Continuing what the previous track did. This song does fairly well at mixing their old sound with their new approach. Pretty solid track that moves along nicely.
Run riot-Oh, my, there's hooks, a solid guitar and the drums stay back. How they did they let this one slip through? Very good song because it sounds like their Pyromania material.
Hysteria-Just when I thought this album couldn't get any more lightweight this song comes meandering on encompassing everything I didn't like about top 40 music from the 1980's. It's fairly limp and even the vocals don't have much to give.
Excitable-This song comes bouncing on sounding like a cross between Robert Palmer and something off of KIX's Cool Kids album. That last part is not a compliment. About two minutes in this starts to sound like a bunch of outtakes thrown together.
Love and affection-Another slow track comes on sort of low key. Although inoffensive, it's rather sedate and never does very much. It just kinds of wanders through for over four minutes never really accomplishing anything.
Final Word-I know that I am in the minority on this, but I still don't like this album. This was a band that prior to this album had improved with each of their three releases and High -n- Dry and Pyromania were two of the best hard rock albums of the 80's. They had written good material, they were good enough players so why then did they take such a dramatic turn and tone down the huge majority of their hard rock sound? Well, duh to sell even more albums of course. Every want to be hip teen with a radio or Mtv ate this cotton candy filler up. So unfortunately we never again saw much of the same band that was so good from 1980-1983 and that's a shame.
***Next month's twenty year old album review will be Anthrax's Among the living. I will also soon be having a vote for a review to decide the twenty year old album review for September.