Shane’s Rock Challenge: DEF LEPPARD – 1983 – Pyromania
By Shane Pinnegar
Pyromania was exactly the right album for the time, and turned Def Leppard from UK NWOBHM upstarts into US chart-busting superstars with a collection of songs that proved heavy metal (as they called it at the time) could not only be as ‘produced’ as pop music, but could also sell as many (or more) records.
How many records? How about well over ten million in the United States alone?!?
Opening with Rock Rock (Till You Drop) was a canny move by the band and producer Mutt Lange – it’s the closest track on offer to their earlier, more AC/DC-influenced work, and one of the rawest, rockiest tracks on the album.
Photograph is instantly far more sophisticated (not bad for a tale about a stalker) and was a huge hit on the singles chart, while Stagefright drew on personal experience and was tailor made for a stadium audience.
Too Late For Love and Die Hard The Hunter are similarly finessed rock songs that are several notches above anything else on offer at the time – largely thanks to Lange’s firm hand on the controls. He really did change the bands fortunes and the way they worked.
Rock Of Ages – complete with its gibberish Germanic-sounding intro “Gunter glieben glauben globen”, spoken by producer Lange – took on an entire life of its own, eventually representing the official start of the hair metal movement so much that it became the name of the stage and movie musical celebrating the genre.
Comin’ Under Fire and Action Not Words perfectly showcase how the classy precision of Phil Collen – recent replacement for the sacked Pete Willis, who contributed all the backing tracks for the album – melded so well with the rawer, more emotive playing of Steve Clark. Closing the album, Billy’s Got A Gun is simply a total departure for a hard rock band of the time.
The 2009 Deluxe Reissue of Pyromania comes with an entire live show from 1983, which is a great document of the band at that time.
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Filed Under: Shane's Rock Challenge
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE