Re-issue of Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” marks album’s 30th anniversary

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Set to almost coincide with the exact date 30 years before, “Hysteria” was re-issued on Aug. 4. “Hysteria’s” re-issue is available in several different formats. This is the second time the album has been re-issued. The 20th anniversary edition was released as a two-disc set.

Relevance of “Hysteria”

By 1987, Def Leppard had experienced some growth and hardships as a band. Also, there was a cultural shift away from the rather unadorned heavy metal that had made them famous.

“Hysteria” then, represents 10 years of Def Leppard’s existence as a band. In addition, it illustrates developments in popular music that were novel in the late 1980s. Def Leppard’s previous albums have a raw sound with simple themes. Few metal voices were as shouty and emotive as Joe Elliot’s, to say nothing of Rick Savage’s unassuming, but lively bass playing, Rick Allen’s awe-inspiring drumming, and the now-late Steve Clark’s and Phil Cohen’s iconic guitar work.

The biggest hits on “Hysteria” incorporated elements of rap and pop, and included effects like echoes on most of the vocals, and special amplifiers for the guitars. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” has verses that are more rapped than sung, in addition to a chorus that is as catchy as any Top 40 hit. “Hysteria” was certified platinum 12 times by 2009, so the songs resonated with audiences. Six Top 20 hits in total were derived from “Hysteria.” In the album’s heyday, it stayed on the charts for weeks, with various songs charting throughout the end of the 1980s.

Sound and context of “Hysteria”

For some fans and critics, “Hysteria” disappoints in that it is (in their view) too commercial. Charges of “it’s pop metal” were leveled against the band up “Hysteria’s” release. The Still others, count “Hysteria” as a masterwork.

The first release, “Women” had simple lyrics, heavy drums and guitars, and was quite popular among American teens and young adults where I lived. Rock radio stations played the song relentlessly. During the summer of 1988, when singles from “Hysteria” were still being released, northern Indiana was experiencing a drought. In addition, there were frequent power outages on some parts of town, and young people flocked to malls for cool air and light. Everywhere, it seemed, strains from “Hysteria” played. The songs were either on the radio, or on cassette in someone’s car stereo.

In addition to “Women,” there was “Rocket,” and the lyrically inventive, “Armageddon It,” and the smoldering sensuality of “Animal.” Yes, there were a number of effects, but it made the band sound modern. They didn’t seem to be trying too hard; the band was as carnal and thoughtful as ever, and the instrumentation didn’t disappoint.

“Hysteria”: What’s in a re-issue?

What is exciting about the re-issue of “Hysteria” is that consumers have options. The various options could be assigned to a level of fandom. For the casual fan, an LP version of “Hysteria” would work. It would seem that the LP version could work for those who are simply rock fans. The multiple disc sets are more expansive, and one set has three discs. The three disc set includes B-sides, remixes and radio versions. What I refer to as the mega release, the box set, contains concert films, a documentary film, live performances and four books. Perfect for diehard Def Leppard fans.

Whether the work on “Hysteria” is considered pop metal, or “too commercial,” it is still unique in terms of Def Leppard’s history and the development of rock music. With different versions of  the”Hysteria” re-issue available, there is something for every fan.

 

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