Friday, August 20, 2010

384. Pyromania- Not really setting the world on fire.

Album: Pryomania

Artist: Def Leppard

Year: 1983

Genre: Rock


1. Rock Rock (Till You Drop)
2. Photograph
3. Stagefright
4. Too Late for Love
5. Die Hard the Hunter
6. Foolin'
7. Rock of Ages
8. Comin' Under Fire
9. Action! Not Words
10. Billy's Got a Gun

A few albums back I wrote a review of Hysteria by Def Leppard. I proclaimed it “Dumb but fun.” Pyromania, the band’s earlier work, is exactly the same... except it’s not much fun.

When reviewed Hysteria I trawled my way through Amazon’s customer reviews and found quote after quote from Def Leppard fans who were all verging on Hysteria over the same thing. Apparently to their mind Pyromania was a Heavy Metal masterpiece which elevated the genre to an unappreciated art from- Hysteria however was a foetid pile of crap which saw the band sell out to commercialism and release a terrible album that wasn’t worth mentioning in the same beer-soaked breath as the band’s earlier work. Consequently when I heard this disc for the first time I was expecting something less commercially accessibly but more artistically pure- and therefore somehow better.

As far as I can tell the only difference between Pyromania and Hysteria is that the latter has infinitely stronger tunes. I’d never heard any song from Pyromania before so the whole thing was a blank slate and a completely new experience. At least the first song was, the rest of the album was a lot more familiar, primarily because it was basically just the first song again. The same big rhythm, the same shouty vocals, the same ludicrously over-treated backing vocals and the same guitar solos coming in at the same time. It’s just a big loud shouty ball of sweaty testosterone dripping congealed hair-gel with leather pants and a shaved chest. It’s dumber than a box of toast and lacks all the sense of fun that made Hysteria a passable listen.

I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude of the band. I could be wrong but you get the sense on Hysteria that they know what they’re doing is just supposed to be fun. It’s not meant to be taken seriously or examined as art. Nobody is going to sit in a lecture theatre and study the chord progression, it’s just silly music that can be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t take themselves or it too seriously. That sense of devil-may-care enjoyment is missing on Pyromania which seems to think it's important somehow. And it shows in the response of the fans who take it so seriously that they actually see Hysteria as selling out, when it’s basically just more of the same only with better written tunes.

If you like your rock hard, big and silly or your metal soft, big and silly then Pyromania might well be for you. If not you might be better advised to put the matches down.

Highlight: Rock Rock til you drop
Lowlight: Too Late for Love

Influenced by: Led Zeppelin and Hair Spray
Influenced: Lots of hair bands that followed.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I purchased this C.D about 4 years ago and it instantly became one of my favorites. Forget what any overly-pompous jerk who wouldn't know good music if M TV still played it, this is a truly fun and energetic C.D. Every song is great, the only song that could be considered a filler song is the last one on the album. This album contains the classics "Pour Some Sugar On Me", "Animal", "Love Bites" and"Armageddon It". However, in my opinion, the lesser known songs on the C.D. like "Dont Shoot Shotgun", "Run-Riot" and "Excitable" really steal the show. This C.D. is definitely one of the few that truly deserves the enormous success that it recieved, it has afterall gone on to sell 12 million copies in the U.S. alone. Great Guitar work, great vocals, great songs, great album. "

-There are few rules to posting a good amazon review. The first is to make sure you're reviewing the right album. The songs you mention are on Hysteria.

So did Pryomania set your world alight or fail to raise a spark? Let me know below.

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