On the 20th of January, we celebrated the 33th anniversary of Def Leppard’s groundbreaking and era-defining album “Pyromania”. Released back in 1983, this album not only changed the face of the 80s, but it also became one of the biggest reasons behind Def Leppard’s major success and fan recognition back in the days. To me personally, “Pyromania”, along with their following album “Hysteria” are the two albums that mostly characterize and represent Def Leppard…not to mention that those two albums are some of my all-time favorites.
To mark the anniversary of this incredible masterpiece, I decided to dedicate a publication which can hopefully give some insight and also show my appreciation and love for it. Also, I would like to provide some basic information about it so that the readers can have a better idea of the impact and the greatness that lies within this album. Needless to say, I adore and appreciate each and every song from this album which makes this publication a very special one.
Finally, this album focus marks the beginning of a new category of posts on this blog – The Greatest Albums of the 80s…what better way to start than with Def Leppard’s “Pyromania”?
Since this is going to be an album focus publication, I would like to begin with some of the major details regarding the album. “Pyromania”, as already mentioned, was released on the 20th of January back in 1983 and it’s Def Leppard’s third studio album. Along with the album, the band also organized a concert tour that lasted for one whole year, in order to support and present their new project to the world. It was an European tour, however it did have a huge impact…after all, in the 80s it was all about the “live concert experience”. Going back to the album itself, it was indeed a huge success as it reached number 2 on the Billboard 200, number 4 in Canada, and number 18 on the UK album charts – those are some major achievements and prove that the album was and still is worthy of admiration and listening. In its original release, the album sold more than 6 million copies in the USA alone and since than it sold more than 10 million copies – thus It was certified 10x “platinum” by the RIAA in 2004. The artwork of the album is also pretty amazing, don’t you think? It includes a skyscraper caught on fire and a bullseye which is directly pointed at the flaming building. The artist behind this memorable and classic hard rock cover is Andie Airfix – the guy who also a few years later does the cover of “Hysteria”. Some say it predicted 9/11 and consider it rather controversy; however I try to stay away from such interpretations. To me it’s fresh, futuristic and rocknroll!
The reasons behind the album’s positive response from the public are numerous but to me personally, the success of the album comes from the brilliant hard rock mastermind of the producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. He not only set new standards and characteristics of mainstream hard rock of the 80s with this album, but he was also responsible for the memorable, radio-friendly and easy to remember and sing with lyrics. Sometimes, people don’t really understand the role and the importance of the music producer – he/she is not only another full-time member of the band but also the figure that glues together ideas, concepts and intentions for the songs, lyrics, performances, etc. In this case, Mutt Lange’s ingenious vision is what lies behind the success of “Pyromania”. In order to get the right sound and create this “hard rock stronghold”, the producer recorded each member of the band individually – a rather unique approach causing many bumps along the way. Despite all, the results were beyond impressive. To me and probably to many other rock music fans and critics, this albums serves as a transition – a turning point and progression from their previous rather raw, wild and heavy metal albums to more radio-friendly, modern, catchy, sophisticated and easier to fall in love with sound. As David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine said, they put “some much-needed fire back on the radio” with this album!
Furthermore, “Pyromania” is the first album to feature guitarist Phil Collen. I absolutely adore him and his talent – his guitar riffs are like thunder!! He comes in the band after the previous lead guitarist – Pete Willis was fired due to alcohol problems. The album was already half-recorder when he steps in and I guess that things were not that easy at the beginning. I’m not going to get into details about Phil right now but what we need to know is that he still remains the band’s lead guitarist – quite impressive, don’t you think? I am so proud of them, being together for so many years and overcoming so many obstacles. Except firing their previous lead guitarist and the death of Steve Clark (co-lead guitarist and songwriter), the band’s members have always been together and that’s one of the many reasons why I respect them so much.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the songs of the album. The tracklist includes 10 songs, all of which possessing that special spirit, aura and groundbreaking new sound of the band. “Photograph”, “Rock of Ages” and “Foolin” found their place in top 40 USA charts and in people’s hearts as well. Those three songs received major recognition and constant airplay on MTV due to their melodic hooks, refined guitar riffs and captivating passionate lyrics. This exposure gave Def Leppard the chance to prove that they are not just another radio-time-filler-band, but rather an important and powerful name, ready to make history. Just listen…
(The music videos are just so typical for the 80s era…hilarious!)
I hope many of you got reminded of these all-time classics! Along with the three songs, the album includes “Rock! Rock (Till You Drop)”, “Stagefright”, “Too Late For Love”, “Die Hard the Hunter”, “Comin’ Under Fire”, “Action! Not Words” and “Billy’s Got A Gun”. All these songs are beyond remarkable, however I am entitled to have a favorite one and that has to be “Too Late For Love”. This song, to me is one of the greatest power ballads of the 80s and it perfectly illustrates the vocal abilities of Joe Elliot like no other song… not to mention the powerful lyrics and compelling guitar riffs that just make you lose yourself…This song is one of the reasons why 1980s melodic hard rock movement gained popularity. It is the perfect ballad and I recommend each and every one of you guys to listen to it again…
Of course, the other songs are worth listening to as much as the ones I put here, however, I’m gonna let you guys go grab the album from your CD shelf and play it or if you became curious and interested – to go and buy it at your local CD store.
Overall, it is a brilliant album – no second opinion about it. It can appeal to any audience of any age – it’s just that good! It is also a MUST HAVE album in your CD/Vinyl collection. If someone asks me to name some of the most distinctive rock albums of the 80s, I will most certainly start with this one. It is that influential and that era-representing. It becomes obvious how hard the producer and the members worked to create it. The details, the musicianship and the lyrics of the songs made it a major catalyst and stimulant for numerous follow-up bands and the overall rock sound of the 1980s. Def Leppard just simply changed the rules of the game…
Oh and of course – I just had to…
This is it for now, stay tuned for more rock music!
Rolling Stone Magazine – “Best Albums of the Eighties” (Def Leppard – Pyromania no. 62), retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com
The Story of Def Leppard’s Breakthrough Album, ‘Pyromania’ by Michael Gallucci, retrieved from http://ultimateclassicrock.com