Thirty years ago on August 3rd, 1987, Def Leppard released their fourth studio album, ‘Hysteria’. Little did they know this ground breaking album would go on to sell over 25 million records, produce 7 hit singles and go to #1 on the Billboard Charts. The album was a labor of love for the band as it took several years to record and they struggled so much during this time.
There were so many setbacks during the recording of the album. First, Robert John “Mutt” Lange turned down the producing job for the record after he had recorded “High & Dry” (my personal favorite) and “Pyromania” although he did help in the initial song writing for the record. The band went through several producers during the recording including working with Jim Steinman of ‘Bat Out of Hell’ fame. Their relationship did not go smoothly and he was later fired (they paid him a lot of money to get out of the contract so it must have gone badly). Later in the process, “Mutt” did come back and produce the final product and then history was made.
The second big obstacle was Rick Allen’s car accident that severed his arm. Yes, the drummer of the band lost an arm. With all respect to the band, they did not abandon Rick. They stood by him and supported him until he was capable of playing the drums with one arm using an electronic drum set and a set of foot pedals to compensate for the lost arm. It definitely was a trying time. I won’t go into much more as you can watch the documentary included to learn more.
Now to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the album, Def Leppard has released the ultimate Deluxe Edition of the record. Take a look at all you get in the box set…
We will start with the main reason for the box set, the album ‘Hysteria’. The album is obviously included. It is the remastered version of the CD and it sounds incredible. I am not going to go through song by song as this post would end up being really long. As they mention in the documentary, the album is basically a greatest hits album all on its own. It had seven hit singles off the album including the entire first half of the album. And the other songs aren’t that bad either when you include “Gods of War”, “Run Riot” and “Love And Affection” it just keeps getting better. What also makes this album special is now knowing it is the last album that featured guitarist Steve Clark. He passed away from alcohol addiction in 1991.
The box set also comes with two discs of B-Sides & Remixes of songs from the album. The real gems are the B-Sides such as “Tear it Down”, “I Wanna Be Your Hero”, “Ride Into the Sun”, “Ring of Fire”, and “Release Me”. This is one area the box set is lacking. As a huge fan at the time of this album (and still today), I actually have all of these songs in one form or another. The Def Leppard camp missed a really big opportunity to include some rare demos or anything else that might be unreleased from this time period. In the documentary they are listening to some early demos, so why not release those to the public.
Another nice feature of the box set is the official CD release of the concert “In the Round, In Your Face”. I have this on video, but I did not have a good version of this on CD. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to get this set. I have been listening to this in the car and I just love this concert. I actually saw Def Leppard on tour for this album three times so to now have a CD of that tour is well worth it. I have several live albums, but this is the only official one that has Steve Clark playing so it is a personal favorite. Plus, it contains songs that they rarely play live anymore including “Stagefright”, “Gods of War”, “Die Hard the Hunter” and “Rock! Rock!”.
One of the cool aspects of the box set is if you place the first four discs cover art together, you get the full image of the album artwork. They also did this trick to the 45 singles when they were released.
The album also comes with two DVDs. The first disc has all the official videos and promo videos the band has released for the album. It also comes with several videos from their performances on the British show Top of the Pops. I didn’t have those videos, but I did have all the other videos as they have previously released those on VHS & DVDs.
The second disc is full of interviews and a documentary on the album. I actually didn’t have these, but I think they I could have obtained them if I would have tried. The documentary was cool in many ways. You definitely get a little backstory on the making of the album and all the troubles they went through making it. What I found to be the best part was then they would sit around the Sound Board and dissect a number of the songs and listen to bit parts and talk about it. I would have liked to have a lot of more that as it was the most interesting.
The box set also came with several small books. The first is “Discography”. For a collector, this is a really cool book. It shows every single album release, CD release, Cassette Release, Single Release they ever had related to ‘Hysteria’. It shows all the countries and the different album cover or single covers. If you wanted to collect everything they ever put out, this would be the ultimate guide.
The second book is a mini replication of their European & U.K. Tour Guide from 1988. It is a really cool piece as well and has some great pictures and artwork. I actually didn’t buy a tour guide during any of my 3 concerts, I only got a T-Shirt.
Another item the band missed out on with this box set was not including a copy of the book chronicling ‘Hysteria’ was ‘Animal Instinct’. That would have really helped make this the ultimate box set. In the back of the Tour Guide, there is a page where you can order it, but not sure if that is a true ad or just a replication of the actual booklet.
The third book was from famed Rock photographer, Ross Halfin called ‘Portraits of Hysteria’. There are books out there by Ross that you can get that cover Def Leppard in more detail, but this is a nice supplement to all those. Some really great pictures from that time period.
The final book is actually called the Big Book of Hysteria…it isn’t really that big though. It is a great little book detailing a lot of the events of the making of the album and even has a nice track-by-track commentary from the band members. It is a good little piece to add to my collection.
The box set also includes a replica of the promo poster which will never actually go up on my wall because my wife would kill me!!
Now the box that all this came in was quite nice as well. The inside of the bottom box had the Union Jack flag and the top part had the saying “Do You Take Sugar?”. Very well built and sturdy so should last a long time.
For me, it was definitely worth the price which I was able to snag for only $75. But anything they put out I will buy so I might not be the best judge on the price. You do a get a lot for the money and if you don’t already have this stuff, it is a great collection. They could have added a few extra things as I mention above and that would have made it even better, but I will take what I can get. Maybe for the 35th or 40th Anniversary Edition!!!