Hysteria: 10 Things You Didn't Know
When Def Leppard's Hysteria came out 30 years ago, it made itself known as a massive achievement, its wall-to-wall sonics and skyscraping harmonies sounding like a turbo-charged version of the metal-edged pop the band had laid down on their prior LP, 1983's Pyromania. "Every track sparkles and burns," Kurt Loder wrote in his Rolling Stone review of the album. But the journey the band took to Hysteria was long and at times calamitous, marked by producer conflicts, lengthy recording sessions, record-company debts and a near-fatal car accident suffered by drummer Rick Allen. In advance of a new deluxe Hysteria reissue, out Friday, here are 10 facts about the album's genesis and its current place in music history.
"When we first got together to follow up Pyromania – which was basically what it was; it wasn't Hysteria at the time, it was just going to be the next album – we hadn't a clue [as to] what we were doing," lead singer Joe Elliott says in Step Inside: Hysteria at 30, a documentary produced by the band in honor of the album's 30th anniversary. Def Leppard initially wrote songs with producer-songwriter Mutt Lange, who'd worked with them since 1981's High & Dry. His packed schedule, though, meant that he couldn't produce the album. For that, the band initially chose Jim Steinman, whose recent credits included Bonnie Tyler's hit-spawning Faster Than the Speed of Night, Air Supply's smash "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" and, most famously, Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell.
But the two parties clashed over the record's direction – Steinman wanted the album to have a live-band feel, while Def Leppard was hoping to make an even more sonically extravagant album than Pyromania. "Jim just came from a completely different school of thought that was more vibe- and song-oriented, whereas we've always been more about the sound of the record," bassist Rick "Sav" Savage says in Step Inside. "We go into great detail on every element that makes up the song." The band bought him out in November 1984, before recording a single note, putting themselves in a hefty amount of debt. "He may be good for other acts, but he was hopeless for us," Elliott told the Toronto Star in 1987. "We were a million miles apart in our ideas about sounds, style, timing. And he couldn't adapt to the band. It was a mismatch from the start."
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