Def Leppard's 'Hysteria' turns 35: 'But are you gettin' it?'

'Step inside, walk this way...'
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard Photo credit Anne Barson/FilmMagic/Getty Images
By , Audacy

After getting their commercial start at the beginning of the eighties, helping in no small part to usher in the big hair and big personalities of arguably the greatest decade for music, British rockers Def Leppard truly found their place with the massively successful 1987 album Hysteria.

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Before things got hysterical, fans had already been gravitating toward the Sheffield-bred band thanks to the down-tempo ballad "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" from 1981's High N' Dry, as well as their hugely catchy Rock bops on 1983's Pyromania, including "Rock Of Ages" and "Photograph" to name just a few. After a four-year pause following a tragic auto accident that took drummer Rick Allen's left arm, the band returned in 1987 with Hysteria, showcasing a more refined sound incorporating samples and backing tracks, and embarked on an electric world tour in support.

Def Leppard - Hysteria tracklist (1987)

Women
Rocket
Animal
Love Bites
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Armageddon It
Gods of War
Don't Shoot Shotgun
Run Riot
Hysteria
Excitable
Love and Affection

Just about every song on the album became a hit, including the band's most well-known singles "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Armageddon It," "Rocket," "Women," "Animal," and of course "Love Bites" -- all of which comprise the incredible first half of the release. But even the second half has fan favorites like “Gods of War,” “Don't Shoot Shotgun,” “Run Riot,” and the title track, “Hysteria,” offering up a solid release that is still putting fans new and old into excitable states.

Celebrating the album, singer Joe Elliott tells Essentials Radio on Apple Music Hits "It's hard to think it's 35 years ago, because it's just a constant in your life like shaving or having a shower. It's just a constant. Which I know a lot of artists struggle with that. They go, I just don't want to talk about that. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity and the lifestyle that album has afforded us and the fact that it's gone into folklore, it's one of the big albums..." Guitarist Phil Collen agrees, saying the record is "stunning. I remember hearing the mixes... and thinking if my mum's the only person that gets this album, we've achieved it. Because it was everything that we set out to do and more."

Collen adds, "[Producer Mutt Lange] had this great quote. He said, 'Everyone else has just made 'Pyromania,' part two. Let's not do that.' Michael Jackson just had 'Thriller,' which had seven hit singles. He said, 'Let's do a rock version of 'Thriller.' That was the briefing, and we'd just done a 10-million selling album, so you go, 'Yeah, but everyone's copying it.' They're copying the drum sound, the style, and everything. We used different things. We brought in Prince, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Fix, yeah, Police, all these different kind of things that we're going off. Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Steve Stevens. Yeah, absolutely, big, big influence, and these different things that other rock bands weren't doing. It was just pushing that hybrid, just expanding it a little bit more."

Speaking with Consequence of Sound, Elliott explains, "When we first got together in 1984 in Dublin to start recording, Frankie Goes to Hollywood were just kicking off, and the sonic sound that they achieved… we would sit there listening to this, and even Mutt would be going, ‘Wow. This is something else’.” He says while their teased-hair contemporaries were "doing the Sunset Boulevard thing," Def Leppard were "living next to a windmill in Holland, making this album! Isolated. It was a four studio complex, and Mick Jagger came in, and he brought Jeff Beck along with him. He took us all out to a nightclub, and it just happened to be a gay nightclub that played loads of disco. That inspired us to write ‘Excitable,’ and it all came about from the little bit of networking that we did. The rest of it, he adds, "you’re just listening to the music that’s happening at the time."

Celebrate Hysteria today with your favorite tracks and more on Audacy's all new Def Leppard Radio, and go even deeper with Def Lep Pod, an officially unofficial Def Leppard podcast with song-by-song deep dives, exploring the Def Leppard story in new ways.

Def Leppard is currently on the road on a co-headlining stadium tour with Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Joan Jett running through September 9 in Las Vegas. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.

While you're in the mood, check out some of Audacy's all-new Rock stations like Def Leppard RadioGuitars and Glitter80s GuitarRock N’ RoadFreedom RockThe CanyonArena RockWake Up and Rock, and The Roots of Rock for those who crave the early days.

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