The album was the follow-up to the band’s 1983 breakthrough Pyromania. Its creation process was one of the longest ever for a rock album, taking over three years, and was plagued by many trials, such as the December 31, 1984 car accident that cost Rick Allen his left arm.
The album has had critical acclaim from a number of sources. In 1988 Q magazine readers voted Hysteria as the 98th Greatest Album of All Time, while in 2004, the album was ranked at number 472 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In the Billboard issue dated October 8, 1988, Def Leppard held the number one spot on both the singles and album charts with “Love Bites” and Hysteria, respectively.
Initially, Hysteria was to be named “Animal Instinct” and produced by Lange, but he dropped out after pre-production sessions, citing exhaustion from a grueling schedule from the past few years. Meat Loaf songwriter Jim Steinman was brought in. Steinman’s involvement was a disaster because he was not at all a perfectionist, liking every take the band recorded. Joe Elliott later stated in interview: “Todd Rundgren produced (Meat Loaf’s) Bat out of Hell. Jim Steinman WROTE it.” After parting ways with Steinman, the band tried to produce the album themselves with Lange’s engineer Nigel Green with no success, as initial recordings sessions were entirely scrapped at this point.
On December 31, 1984, drummer Rick Allen’s Corvette flipped off a country road, severing his left arm. Following the accident, the band stood by Allen’s decision to return to the drum kit with one arm, using a combination electronic/acoustic kit with a set of footpedals that triggered via MIDI the hits he would have played with his left arm. The band slowly soldiered on until Mutt Lange made a surprise return a year later, and Rick mastered his customized drum kit. However, sessions were further delayed by Lange’s own auto accident (sustaining leg injuries from which he quickly recovered) and a bout of the mumps for lead singer Joe Elliott during 1986.
The final recording sessions took place in January 1987 for the song “Armageddon It”, but Lange spent another three months mixing the tracks. The album was finally released worldwide on August 3, 1987, with “Animal” as the lead single in most countries except for the US where “Women” was the first single.
Interestingly, in the liner notes to this album, the band apologized for the long wait between albums, and promised to never make fans wait that long between albums again. Later events, namely Steve Clark’s death, would prove this untrue.
Fortunately for the band, their popularity in their homeland had significantly grown over the past four years, helping Hysteria to top the charts in Britain in its first week of release. The album was also a major success in other parts of Europe. In the United States though, the band at first struggled to regain the momentum of Pyromania that was lost from such a prolonged absence, but the success of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” would turn both the band and the album into a worldwide phenomenon.
On October 24, 2006, a 2-CD “deluxe edition” of the album was released, including a re-mastering of the original b-sides and bonus tracks from the album’s period. Many of these songs had been featured on Retro Active, albeit with remixes, revamps, and new parts added. The “Deluxe Edition” Hysteria deluxe CD included the original b-side versions of these recordings without alterations.
The album’s goal, set out by Lange, was to be a hard rock version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, in that every track was a potential hit single. Songs were therefore written with this concept in mind, disappointing heavy metal fans who clamoured for a straight sequel to Pyromania. “Love Bites” was already mostly written in the vein of a country ballad by Mutt Lange when he brought it to the band’s attention.
While Pyromania contained traces of heavy metal, “Hysteria” removed them in favor of the latest sonic technology available at the time (best displayed on “Rocket”, “Love Bites”, “Excitable”, and “Gods of War”).
As with Pyromania, every song was recorded by every member in the studio separately instead of the whole band. The multiple vocal harmonies were enhanced by Lange’s techniques, even pitching background vocals on all tracks. Guitar parts were now focused more on emphasising melody than hard rock’s more basic and cliched riffs. The band used the Rockman amplifier, developed by guitarist Tom Scholz from the rock band Boston, to record the album.
In addition, all of the album’s drum sounds were samples recorded by Lange and the engineers, then played from the Fairlight CMI. In a 1999 interview with Mix Magazine, engineer Mike Shipley noted, “Pyromania was done the same way, on cheesy 8-bit Fairlight technology where we had to figure out how to record everything at half speed into the Fairlight to make it sound like it had some tone to it, and we’d be stacking up a bunch of snares and bass drums.” Shipley also noted that the drum sounds were dealt with last because each song’s structure could change so radically, and because of technical difficulties.
This unique approach sometimes led to painstaking lengths of time in the recording studio. The smash single, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, was the last song written but was quickly finished within two weeks. In sharp contrast, the final version of “Animal” took almost a full three years to be developed but did become one of the bigger hits from the album.
It was a formula (and success) that Lange would later repeat with his now estranged wife Shania Twain in country music with the albums The Woman in Me and Come on Over.
The iconic album cover was designed by Andie Airfix of Satori, who has done other covers of Def Leppard albums before and since.
Hysteria went on to dominate album charts around the world for three years. At 12 times platinum in America alone and another 8 million copies sold outside the US, Hysteria currently sits as the 51st best selling album of all time in the US.
The leadoff track, “Women”, was selected as the first single for the US, instead of “Animal”, in July 1987. Then-manager Cliff Bernstein reasoned that the band needed to reconnect with its hard rock audience first before issuing more Top 40-friendly singles. The strategy backfired somewhat as “Women” did not make a large impact on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #80. It was a top 10 hit on the rock chart though, peaking at #7.
Edited by Timitzi on 26 Apr 2009, 10:41
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