Album Review: Def Leppard – Hysteria (Vinyl)

Def Leppard celebrated the 30th anniversary of their platinum selling smash record Hysteria by offering a gift to fans and re-releasing the album on vinyl record on August 4.

Yes, a gift because if you’ve tried looking for Hysteria on vinyl you’d think it would be easy to find considering 1987 was hardly a lost year for records. Someone was selling their old collection somewhere, right? Not so. Sure, CDs were in mass hysteria, if you will, but records had not yet fallen by the wayside and thankfully their present day resurgence offers bands and fans a chance to revisit the past and offer long lost albums their due recording respect on the only format that truly embraces the listener.

Believe me, I’ve tried purchasing Hysteria on vinyl and unless you want to shell out significant cash for an iffy proposition it’s totally unavailable. Until now…

Hysteria, Def Leppard’s fourth album, delivers and if you’re a fan of the band, only the album or even just half of the record that enjoys continuous airplay today, you’ll find much ado about something with the vinyl format.

In full disclosure, I’d actually never heard this album in it’s entirety and in fact don’t own it on CD or cassette. Of course, like the rest of the world I am well familiar with the Core 6 but much to my personal disappointment had yet to invest much time in the rest of this all-around treasure. In terms of packaging, it’s absolute gold. The 12 song effort is nearly 63 minutes divided between two 180 gram heavyweight vinyl records and the weight is quite noticeable. A limited edition orange colored edition (which I also bought) is also available but probably now about as sparse as an original issue of the album from 1987. (Hysteria is also available in a 5 CD/2 DVD 30th Anniversary package.)

And you remember how those old sleeves were made of tissue-thin paper with a doughnut hole that ripped like wet Kleenex if you slipped the records in wrong? Not on this re-issue. Full encompassing sleeves made of heavyweight paper protect the wax and allow them to slide right into the gatefold, which opens to a live shot of the band. (I never did find the original release on vinyl so I assume everything replicates the 1987 version for authenticity sake.) One of the sleeves features the original note from the band apologizing for the long delayed release while the other sleeve contains the lyrics.

Hysteria starts off with “Women” which enjoys regular airplay on Sirius followed by all those beloved favorites: “Rocket,” “Animal,” “Love Bites,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Armageddon It.” It’s the second side consisting of “Gods of War, “Don’t Shoot Shotgun, “Run Riot,” Hysteria”, “Excitable,” and Love and Affection” that was mostly foreign to me, except of course “Hysteria.” If you’ve seen Def Leppard live once you’ve likely heard half this record already.

“Gods of War” clearly shows the band dabbling their thoughts into the foreign affairs of the time which features audio from President Ronald Reagan to close the song. It’s the black sheep of the record, if you will, as the rest of Side B follows in the vein as the first side with themes of love, females and sex incorporated into memorable chords and foot tapping beats. “Don’t Shoot Shotgun” and “Excitable” offer some wit, a bit of humor and fun arrangements but it’s a bit surprising the band doesn’t play “Run Riot” live. Actually, it’s a bit remarkable it wasn’t the seventh single pushed from the album. It’s that good.

But the track I was most looking forward to hearing again after the first pass? “Love bites.” Yes, the song (ok, one of several on this record) that endeared Def Leppard forever to so many women, brought out a strength to singer Joe Elliott’s vocals I’d never heard before. He sparkles, which sounds like the wrong description but it’s the only one that makes sense because it’s the tone along with the passion that feels totally missed on compact disk and what emanates from the radio (for the perceptive reader I do have the song on CD).

Additionally, Rick Savage’s bass is a force to reckon with on the entire album. It’s also the last album with guitarist Steve Clark, who passed in 1991, and all that can be said is the band chose wisely in replacing his licks with Vivian Campbell, a solid choice to filled Clark’s shoes.

In many respects it was a miracle Hysteria was ever made. Born from drummer Rick Allen’s car accident that severed his left arm the album was costly, took forever to make and came on the long heels (four years) of the band’s breakthrough album Pyromania. Lightning in a bottle? Captured twice. What’s more, if not for a last minute addition the band recorded in just a few weeks, Hysteria probably would have never reached such critical acclaim and chart topping success.

That’s not to say “Pour Some Sugar On Me” completely makes the album but the band’s most popular song certainly rounds out the entire record, adds an emphatic exclamation mark and slides in the final slice to a perfect music pie.

Grade: A (Did you really think I’d give one of the most popular records of all time anything less?)

Def Leppard – Hysteria Track List

  1. Women
  2. Rocket
  3. Animal
  4. Love Bites
  5. Pour Some Sugar On e
  6. Armegeddon It
  7. Gods of War
  8. Don’t Shoot Shotgun
  9. Run Riot
  10. Hysteria
  11. Excitable
  12. Love and Affection

Written By: AndrewT

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4 comments

      • I bought this the day it came out on cassette tape. Than in 1988 I purchased it on CD. Than 10 years ago i bought the Hysteria Deluxe 2 cd set and now…
        I need this vinyl set that you have shown…
        Looks slick!

  1. Must say I’m a bit disappointed by this vinyl release sonically. As you mention the pressing is nice – clean, dead flat, and quiet – and the packaging is excellent.

    But the mastering is much too loud – the CD version of this anniversary reissue is incredibly brickwalled and I’m wondering if this vinyl version doesn’t use that same master. It’s far too loud and lacking in dynamics. Highs are really harsh and the low end is severely lacking. File this one under “missed opportunity,” IMO.

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