Sunday, October 4, 2009

472. Hysteria- Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Album: Hysteria.

Artist: Def Leppard.

Year: 1987

Genre: Hair band rock.


1. Women.

2. Rocket.

3. Animal.

4. Love Bites.

5. Pour Some Sugar on me.

6. Armageddon it.

7. Gods of war.

8. Don't shoot shotgun

9. Run Riot.

10. Hysteria.

11. Excitable.

12. Love and affection.

“Right. So what’s the name of your band then?”

“Deaf Leopard.”

“Deaf Leopard?”

“Yeah. Can we have a record contract please?”

“So you’ve named your band after a hard-of-hearing jungle cat?”

“Pretty much.”

“Your name evokes images of a large, fierce predator that you can easily sneak up on?”

“Yes. Yes I suppose it does. So about this record cont-”


“How about if we spell it Def Leppard?”

“Sign here.”

Way back in my first post I talked about Touch by Eurythmics and how I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with it. I had no idea what reaction I was supposed to have during the long electro passages, I couldn’t dance or sing along and it didn’t move me emotionally so it left me really confused.

You won’t find any of the same problem amongst fans of Hysteria. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing then your earphones have fallen off. Those regular thumping beats? That’s the rhythm for you to shake your huge mane of hair to, or possibly pump your fist in the air; devil-horns optional. Don’t worry about accidentally headbutting the person in front or behind you because their head will be moving with the exact same rhythm. Those huge guitar breaks? That’s when you air guitar. Waggle the fingers of one hand out in space somewhere beyond one shoulder while the other hand shapes intricate patterns on the front of your black T-shirt. Finally those huge vocal sections where the band has triple, or quadruple tracked themselves singing backing? That’s your moment to shout along. Words are important, volume is essential but melody is entirely optional.

Def Leppard are an eighties hair-band. So called because they were part of a genre of music that seemed to spend as much time under a blow-dryer as they did in the studio. Their albums were big but their hair was bigger. During the eighties there were millions of these groups roaming around wearing silly clothes and playing sillier music. I’m not a huge fan of hair bands and thought I wouldn’t like this but I have to say I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. Yes it’s dumb. Yes it’s over-produced. Yes it’s written exclusively for stadiums. But somehow it’s kind of fun. There were seven singles released from this album and all of them were hits. Despite myself I can see why.

Back in 1987 I was 14 which means I was basically this album's target audience and so my ears did prick up when I heard some of these tracks on the radio. Rocket is the song I remember most, I recall it went "Rocket, Yeah!" And then followed that up with a baffling line that I think went: "staying alive to live" which clearly made no sense but didn't matter in the least- I wasn't tuning into rock radio stations for life-altering snippets of wisdom. Listening to it 20 years later I can tell you that the reason the "Rocket, Yeah!" bit stuck in my head is because that's pretty much all the song does. The line that follows is actually "Satellite of love" which is presumably a shout-out to Lou Reed. Apart from a really confusing bridge in the middle which seems to consist of a broadcast from NASA the track is basically just a rhythm and some shouty bits. It's insipid, moronic, asanine and I'm ashamed to say- great fun. Actually not being able to make sense of the lyrics is definitely a plus on this release. If you can understand what they're singing then these lines from Pour Some Sugar On Me would have entered your head: "You got the peaches, I got the cream/ Sweet to taste, saccharine/ 'Cos I'm hot, say what, sticky sweet/ From my head, my head, to my feet." Sadly there is no un-hearing lines like that once they've entered your brain.

One of the things that set Leppard apart from all the other bands was the collected number of limbs. While most bands averaged two hands for every band member the drummer from Def had half the number of arms normally associated with those in the percussion business. Rick Allen lost an arm in a motoring accident and seriously considered throwing in his career entirely. With an admirable sense of determination he redesigned his drum kit and kept going. His feet do double the work of most drummers and pedals do the job that his missing arm normally would. It’s an impressive effort to consider that all the percussion sounds (with the exception of handclaps presumably) are made by a guy lacking what most people would consider essential for a good drummer.

Def Leppard's Hysteria- it's silly. Really silly. Very very foolish indeed. And yet kind of fun. I wouldn't say I'm a fan but now that I've listened I'm less likely to poke fun at those that are.

Highlight: Rocket.

Lowlight: That weird bit of talking in the middle of Rockrt where the guitar solo should be but isn't.

Influenced by: Zeppelin, Sabbath etc.

Influenced: Grunge but not in a positive way.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "In 1985, after putting the five then-current members of Def Leppard into a freeze-dried chamber, Robert John "Mutt" Lange began the follow-up to his last studio effort, "Pyromania." His vision was grander this time, and the work on the new songs was slow but precise. He recruited '80's-era T-1000 Robots to complete his singular vision, but the sessions were fraught with problems. Some of the T-1000's rebelled, and Lange, who was suffering through a terrible bout of stress, perhaps because he had not met Shania Twain at this juncture, soon had to take a leave of absence. When Lange came back the T-1000's were in full control of the monumental "Hysteria" sessions, and he could do nothing but wallow in drug-induced self-pity. His only real contribution to the album was the opening riff on track 12, which the robots granted him. (It's really not a bad riff, Mutt!!)

By August 1987, "Hysteria" was ready to roll for public consumption, and the members of Def Leppard were released from their concubines. A tradgedy occurred when something went wrong with drummer Rick Allen's thawing process, and the young man lost his left arm. Luckily, the stilted beats the robots had concocted on "Hysteria" suited Allen's new playing style just fine, and everbody was anxious to proceed.

In another unexplained tradgedy with the band, singer Joe Elliott contracted the mumps while frozen, but he lived to tell his tale.

If you caught this tour in '87, '88, '89, you've caught history, no??"

-I think this guy needs to look up "concubine" in a dictionary. And he also needs a bit of a lie down.

So it's big and dumb but is it dumb good or dumb bad? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. I like the line "staying alive to live". It questions the point of living. it speaks for those who fail to find purpose.