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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Def Leppard - 1983 Pyromania
Def Leppard - 1983 Pyromania

ARTIST: Def Leppard
ALBUM: Pyromania
LABEL: Vertigo
SERIAL: 6359 119
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1990, Mercury, 810 308-2 * 2009, Bludgeon Riffola, 060075319168-2


LINEUP: Joe Elliot - vocals * Phil Collen - guitars * Steve Clark - guitars * Rick Savage - bass * Rick Allen - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock Rock (Till You Drop) * 02 Photograph * 03 Stagefright * 04 Too Late For Love * 05 Die Hard The Hunter * 06 Foolin' * 07 Rock Of Ages * 08 Comin' Under Fire * 09 Action! Not Words * 10 Billy's Got A Gun


'Pyromania' on face value is a natural inclusion here at Glory Daze, yet due to the constantly overplayed hits from the album almost twenty five years later, its familiarity perhaps means a review isn't necessary. However the more forgotten tracks are worthy of closer inspection, and despite the daily radio bludgeon there is little doubt this is one of the greatest melodic hard rock albums of all time. This saw a shift away from the rough and tumble, yet still melodic 'High And Dry', streamlining the AOR content further, and almost completely dispensing with any traces of the heavy metal formula of the debut. The story has been told over a million times, but Pete Willis was dismissed for allegedly abusing the bottle, making way for Phil Collen of Girl. The success Leppard reaped with this album was remarkable, and more than anything made them superstars in the US, leaving them almost forgotten back home in the UK.

The Songs
It's doubtful anyone reading this has yet to hear 'Photograph', 'Foolin', 'Rock Of Ages' and 'Too Late For Love', surely among the most played tracks in classic rock radio history, all melodic anthems and a joy to behold upon first listen. It was for me all those years ago, but US radio has a tendency to ruin a good song to the point you never care to hear it again. No doubt there is someone discovering these for the first time as this is written and good for them. Rarely has such perfect production been caught like 'Mutt' Lange managed to here, ensuring the tracks haven't dated. For those delving deeper beyond the obvious, some of Leppard's best work is found. 'Rock, Rock (Til You Drop)' possesses the harder edge of 'High And Dry', a timeless rock anthem that is as raw as the album gets rock wise. 'Stagefright' is one of Leppard's best ever, an unsung classic with the richest melody the band ever conjured, the AOR hook an act of genius, as are the guitar solos, sweeping all in their path such is the harmony, backed by incessant keyboard interplay. Elliot does his best screaming also on this track, quite simply a band riding the crest of a wave. The bands much vaunted vocal overdubs make their mark during 'Die Hard The Hunter', along with scintillating synth additions that almost read Aldo Nova. The relentless melody continues through the moody 'Comin Under Fire', making you wonder how the harmonies were achieved to such perfect levels. Being so unique, there's no other act to compare it to. The riffs take a more metal direction during 'Action! Not Words', with Collen and Clark both delivering their trademark solos, both with individual style in the grand tradition of tandem legends such as Downing/Tipton or Murray/Smith, although Leppard were by now far removed from their one NWOBHM contemporaries. Saving one of the best tracks for last, 'Billy's Got A Gun' should be compulsory listening for any AOR purist. The high drama of the 'can you feel it in the air' backing vocal is unmatched, and this is a masterful epic that Leppard used to specialise in.

In Summary
The way 'Pyromania' took the US by storm is something that we will likely never see again. For a young English band to become superstars through what is predominantly AOR is truly a remnant from a sadly bygone era. The fact is this deserved the accolades and sales. 'Hysteria' may have been bigger, but it never once approaches the general perfection of 'Pyromania', because here every song stands up as legendary, which cannot be said of 'Hysteria'. There is much more to 'Pyromania' than the hits, which thankfully keeps the listening experience fresh. Leppard have never come close to equalling this musically and for once that's not a bad thing. There's few other bands that could either.

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#1 | jeffduran on May 12 2008 03:07:50
The last great Leppard release imo. A few cuts off 'Hysteria' and 'Adrenalize' are ok, but the rest is rubbish imo.
#2 | jeffrey343 on January 09 2011 04:46:58
The soundtrack to most of 1983 for me. And I played it to death to the point I haven't listened to it regularly for years, which isn't really fair. But I do hear the hits on radio frequently enough. The whole album is superb, though. I can't say that 'Hysteria' really did much for me; it lacked the excitement and punch of this. Same with anything after it.
#3 | Vincenzo on October 06 2011 22:22:00
AOR? This is an beautiful and significant Hard Rock album.
#4 | dangerzone on October 07 2011 05:34:37
Yes it's hard rock but the melodies are pure AOR in execution for a majority of tracks, which is why I used the word 'predominantly.'
#5 | bpdp3 on January 07 2018 02:52:30
Very true point in this review that due to overplay, discussing this album becomes almost superfluous. HOWEVER...driving home tonight I heard "foolin'" for the billionth time. But then I realized just how many melodic hooks they packed into just this one song. Unbelievable.

First you get the verse. Then what you think is a really melodic bridge ("is anybody out there"Wink. Then incredibly an even more melodic 2nd bridge?!!?("oh, I just gotta let go" part). Then the actual chorus. Then at the end the nice "ha ha foolin' myself" hook.

now THAT'S a lot of hooks for just one track! And not even one of my favorite songs on the album!! Like them or not you HAVE to admire their mastery of their craft at that point.
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