Thursday, January 31, 2008

Razor's Retro Reviews: Hysteria - Def Leppard


I picked up the Def Leppard album Hysteria over the weekend at a used record store for $3.99. I didn’t even know they made this album on vinyl. I would have assumed that vinyl liquified on contact with music this epic.

At any rate, I gave it a listen and I thought that it would be a fun album to review. Hysteria was the follow-up to Def Leppard’s breakout album ‘Pyromania’.

This album took four years to make and it was during this hiatus that drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident. He stayed with the band and had a custom drum set made that would allow him to do some of the drumming that he used to do with his left arm, but with his legs. They also attached an electronic drum kit to the whole thing.

In an attempt to be taken seriously, I’ll throw a few facts your way:

- Def Leppard is one of only six rock bands with two original albums selling over 10 million copies each in the U.S. The others are The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Eagles and Van Halen.

- Hysteria has sold 18 million albums worldwide

- It was produced by Mutt ‘I’m banging Shania Twain’ Lange

- It was ranked #472 on Rolling Stones 500 Best Albums of all-time

- Hysteria reached #1 on the US Billboard charts

- Hysteria charted 7 singles on the US Billboard charts, with ‘Love Bites’ being its only #1 single

I’m not trying to transform anyone into a Def Leppard fan, I’m just trying to convince you that they’re not as bad as we all seem to think, and that at one time, they were on top of the world. I know that my hometown radio station has pretty much ruined Def Leppard for everyone I grew up with by playing their music on a steady loop, but I thought that I’d give them another try.

Here’s the review:

#1 “Women”

This was the first song released as a single in the US and it reached #80 on the charts. It’s an OK song, but probably not worthy to open an album like this. I don’t think that I’ve heard this song played on the radio or, in fact, ever. I actually already forget how it sounds.

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

He was born with a passion, love and hate

A restless spirit with a need for a mate

But there was somethin' that was missin', somethin' lost

So he came with the answer, here's what it cost

One part love, one part wild

One part lady, one part child

I give you Women! women! -

Lots of pretty women

Men! men! - They can't live without them

Women! women! - Lots of pretty women

Men! men! - They can't live without them

#2 “Rocket”

Now we’re talking! I always rock out to this song, I don’t care what anyone says. And you can’t just say ‘Rocket’, you have to yell it in the ear of the person closest to you…Rock-it! Pelvic thrusting is strictly optional. This song reached #12 on the US charts, but it will always be first in my heart.

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

I can take you thru the center of the dark

We're gonna fly

On a collision course to crash into my heart

I will be your, I will be your, I'll be your

Rocket yeah satellite of love

Rocket yeah satellite of love

Rocket yeah satellite of love Rocket baby!

C'mon, I'll be your satellite of love

Here’s the video:

The video might lead you to believe that there are some political undertones to this song, but that's patently false. Does anyone else think that Joe Elliot looks like that disturbingly manly aunt who never quite managed to convince you as a child that she was a woman?

#3 “Animal”

Ah yes, another classic hit! But I would consider it the poor man’s “Rocket”….Rock-it! This song reached #19 on the US charts. The lyrics are somewhat telegraphic due to a serious lack of transitional expressions:

And I want and I need

And I lust animal

What the hell does that mean?! Is he lusting for animals? Or lusting like an animal? Is it purposely left open to interpretation? Only the animals and their ruptured colons know for sure.

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

Cry wolf, given mouth to mouth

Like a movin' heartbeat in the witching hour

I'm runnin' with the wind, a shadow in the dust

And like the drivin' rain, yeah, like the restless rust

I never sleep

#4 “Love Bites”

The epitome of rock ballads! I’ve spend more time finding solace in this song, as a teenager, than any self-respecting person should be willing to admit. If we had emos in the 80’s, they’d all be clamoring for this song. Take note Simple Plan, take a lot of notes…

This song also introduced me to the hi-tech digital speaking voice-over that has become so popular in songs…ok, it was never popular…but it still kicks ass. ‘Love Bites’ reached #1 on the US charts. What song did ‘Love Bites’ need to overtake to reach #1? Don’t Worry Be Happy. Take that Bobby McFerrin!!

This songs raises many profound questions for all couples to consider:

When you make love, do you look in the mirror?

Who do you think of, does he look like me?

Do you tell lies and say that it's forever?

Do you think twice, or just touch 'n' see?

These questions were all going to be asked during that Dr.Phil/Britney Spears interview that got cancelled. It’s probably best that we never got the answers.

That Spears bitch is hot, but crazy. You know?

Here’s the video:

I have to admit, I have no fucking clue as to what’s going on in this video. 80% of the damn thing is nothing more than shots of the band doing jack shit.

#5 “Pour Some Sugar On Me”

Over the course of history, many things have been done in the name of love. Poetry has been written, wars have been fought, and now, thanks to Def Leppard, sugar has been poured.

Of all the songs to make it big, this has got to be the dumbest, but Def Leppard pulls it off. I don’t know how, but I love this song. It gets me going.

This song reached #2 on the Billboard charts. Man, the song that kept it from reaching #1 must have been a doozy. Let’s look that up…humm, it’s…you’re kidding me: Hold on to the Nights by Richard Marx?! Def Leppard got beat by Richard Marx?! 1988 wasn't just a different time, it was a different fucking planet.

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

Love is like a bomb, baby, c'mon get it on

Livin' like a lover with a radar phone

What the hell is a radar phone?!…

You got the peaches, I got the cream

Sweet to taste, saccharine

SACCHARINE! Never before and never again will this word be used in lyrics, NEVER…cherish the moment people…

Here’s the video:

There’s a general rule about concerts where you’re considered an idiot if you wear a band shirt of the actual band that you’re there to watch…well, what happens if the lead singer is wearing his own band shirt? Does that make it ok for the rest of us? I can’t believe these guys used to be cool, it baffles the mind and destroys the spirit.

About halfway through watching this one, I couldn’t help but feel that I’ve seen the exact same video but performed by another band, and then it hit me:

I guess some good came out of the Def Leppard era…

#6 “Armageddon It”

I actually had to see this title in writing before I knew what this song was actually called. The first thing that I noticed about this song is that it’s way too long for what it is; it should be two minutes shorter as the end just rambles on. The second thing I realized was that this expression was never going to catch on, which you know Def Leppard was hoping it would. It’s just too wordy:

Razor: Hey boss, what do you want me to do with this stack of environmental reports?

Boss (trying to be hip): Armagunit…armag…armageddit..

Razor: Armageddon it?

Boss: Just shred them…

All that aside, it’s a rocking song and easy to get into. This one reached #3 on the charts.

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

You try comin' on when you need some...

But then you don't 'cos you already did

Yeah, you jangle your jewels while your shakin' ya...

And drive the pretty boys outta their heads

What the fuck is going on with these lyrics? At first, when I read ‘Jangle your jewels’, I think testicles…but in the next line they’re talking about driving the pretty boys outta their heads, are they in a gay bar? Is Def Leppard gay? Why am I agonizing of questions that are obviously true? I think that I’ll just move on.

Here the video…and before you accuse me of finding a version of the ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ video with the song dubbed over it, pay attention to the very beginning where it clears states ‘Armageddon It’:

It’s the same damn video! From the same concert! I even recognized members from the audience that were in the ‘Sugar’ video! The girl that appears at 2:01 of this video appears at 1:18 of the video for ‘Sugar’. What the hell?! Was it a budgeting decision? Did they really not have enough money to finance a whole new video for this song?! I would have been insulted had I been a fan back in the day…

Side B

#7 “Gods of War”

Here’s the thing about this song, in terms of popularity, no one’s probably heard it before, but it really isn’t any different from any of the other songs that were released from this album like ‘Animal’ or ‘Armageddon It’. So what happened? Did Def Leppard develop a conscience at some point and say, ‘Hey, we’ve sold enough records and made enough money, let’s stop releasing singles off this album, we don’t want to saturate our fans.' It’s too bad, because this is probably the one song that isn’t complete gibberish. It’s an anti-war song, ‘Stop fightin' for the gods of war/Yeah what the hell we fightin' for?’

Of course, Def Leppard are British, so I’m not sure if they’re protesting a specific war or war in general or the war on dental hygiene, because there weren’t too many wars going on in 1988. Either way, this song seems to have a point, which is more than I can say about most songs on this album.

#8 “Don’t Shoot Shotgun”

The only thing different about this song is the guitar solo about ¾ into it…I couldn’t tell you who the guitar player is off the top of my head. This song probably has the funniest beginning on the album:

Run for cover (Run for cover)

Don't shoot! - Shoot!

She's so dangerous



(Don't shoot shotgun!)

I honestly can’t remember anything else about this song past the intro, so it can’t be that good.

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right

Fallin' head over heals at the speed of light

Hey little miss heaven on earth

Whoa, won't you walk this way but I see a red alert

Oh, my senses say keep away

So don't shoot!

#9 “Run Riot”

Garbage…Next song

#10 “Hysteria”

Oh can you feel it? Do you believe it? It’s such a magical mysteria. What’s that? Mysteria isn’t a word? According to Def Leppard it is, so who are you to challenge them? Fuck you

This is the best song on side B, and the only one to reach the charts (peaked at #10). I like this song, even though it’s so repetitive…It’s trying to do the same with ‘Hys-ter-ia-a-a-a’ that it did with ‘Rock-it!’, but it doesn’t quite work that way. You can’t scare the shit out of anyone by sneaking up on them and yelling ‘Hys-ter-i-a-a-a'

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

Hysteria when you're near

Out of me, into you yeah

You could hide it's just a one way street

Oh, I believe I'm in you, yeah

Open wide, that's right, dream me off my feet

Oh, believe in me

Here’s the video:

Man, I really don’t get Leppard videos. The ballroom dancing in particular bothers me, because it makes me feel tingly down there. If you know what I mean. We’re almost done…

#11 “Excitable”

I’m starting to get tired of listening to this album. More garbage music where they pretty much shout random slogans to get you ‘excited’, get it? Excitable…excited…forget it…

#12 “Love and Affection”

The last song of the album! Woohoo! Side A was great, but side B has been a painful ride…This song is all about sex and sexual innuendos and more sex. In terms of music, I’ve already blocked it from my memory, so it can’t be that good.

Cringe-worthy lyrics:

You got the fire, baby, I got the heat, can you handle it?

I got the time, baby, you got the need, oh surrender it

Oh, it's a passion crime with a danger sign, oh, can you handle it?

You're just another girl, I'm just another man, it's just another night

And there you have it, ‘Hysteria’ by Def Leppard, one of the greatest albums produced in the 1980s, summarized and analyzed for your reading pleasure. Hey, it could be worse, I could have sat you down and made you listen to it, or made you watch their videos. Wait. I did do that last one.

No comments: