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Def Leppard – Hysteria (1987)


Reviewing Def Leppards blockbuster album Hysteria back in 1987, divisive American music critic Robert Christgau dismissed the music within as ‘ Pop metal of no discernible content…in short, it’s product.’ Now Christgau, who has written for over forty years on rock and pop music has also incurred the ire of musical icons such as Lou Reed and Sonic Youth for his often terse assessments of their works.

Now, he does have a point about Hysteria which for many years to this listener sounded like an exercise in bludgeoning, soulless production overkill but time has withered my resistance and my once strict taste parameters borne from self-serious twenty something angst have relaxed somewhat. Christgau makes sense but now I feel that’s… like just his opinion, man.

Sure, it sound like product and probably even more than in the CD age, bright and shiny beyond belief but no discernible content? That’s I just can’t go along with. This is extremely commercial music, calculated to within an inch of its life, designed to assault the ears and conquer the charts which it did, Hysteria to date has sold well over 20 million copies but there is a beating heart there, courtesy of five average blokes from Sheffield who loved Thin Lizzy and wanted to world-famous rock stars.

There is a disarming directness, naivety, a joy of bullet proof power pop hooks, heroic guitar solos, bleeding heart balladry, plain dumb rock n roll  that no amount of production gloss can destroy which is why I’ve always had a fondness for their songs. Not afraid to look ridiculous or lay their feelings on the line within the context of macho, stadium sized cock rock and roll is something to be admired.

And I mean women like them cos they are sensitive and have big instruments  you know? That’s nice, right?