Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Def Leppard - Pyromania (1983)


Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette tape, later replaced by a CD. My edition is not the 2009 Deluxe Edition.

Cock rock. To be enjoyed at a very high volume. Preferably in a motor vehicle with the windows rolled down. Not really heavy metal, the melodies and smooth production makes this more of a 'pop metal' album. Personally, I think the band owes a great deal of success to producer Mutt Lange who has worked his multi-layered production magic on AC/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner, The Cars, Bryan Adams, and his ex-wife Shania Twain. At the time of this release, I was more of a new wave kind of guy, but after seeing the video for Photograph on MTV, I figured I'd give the band a shot. I was (and still am) largely unaware of the band's work before this release, but I stuck with them until 1996's Slang. Singer Joe Elliot has a great rock voice and the mix on this album brings it right up front. In 2004, the album ranked number 384 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #2
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #3

Tracks: We start off with the great 1-2 punch of Rock Rock (Till You Drop) followed by Photograph. The rest of what was side one (tracks 3-5) I consider good, but not great although Phil Collen's solo on Die Hard The Hunter is pretty awesome. Foolin' is a good (albeit gloomy) ballad-ish track, but then comes Rock Of Ages, probably the best song on the album. You betcha. Listening to the stomp of Rock Of Ages, you can hear the seeds being sown for the writing of my all-time favorite Def Leppard song that would come 4 years later: Pour Some Sugar On Me. Rock Of Ages is followed by the bland Comin' Under Fire, but the album ends with two good rockers: Action! Not Words and Billy's Got A Gun. Finally tally: 10 tracks, 3 great songs, 6 solid efforts, and a stinker. Not bad.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This music reminds me of the typing(!) class I took my junior year of high school. Carla, a classmate that sat near me during that class, saw the band in concert in Houston and spent the entire class period the next day telling us all about it (while wearing her baseball jersey concert shirt, natch). Also, at some point during that year, the typing teacher asked to borrow my car to go run an errand. While that is strange enough in itself, what makes the story more unbelievable is that she ran the errand DURING our class period. What is even more unbelievable is that I agreed, gave the woman my keys, and didn't think much about it. I'd like to say that sort of behavior wouldn't be seen in today's school, but I'm pretty sure it does. Anyway, my Pyromania cassette was in my car stereo, so I'm sure my teacher got a loud blast of Def Leppard when sure turned the ignition. One final note about that typing class unrelated to Def Leppard: my teacher didn't really care if we looked at the keys on our typewriters when we typed, so to this day, I still look at the keys on my keyboard. Almost 30 years later, I'm angry about that.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Tales From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)

1 comment:

  1. Their first two albums are actually pretty good - you can hear the beginnings of their eventual multi-platinum selling sounds. On Through The Night (1980) is a solid slice of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, which is basically the same old blues-based heavy metal infused with youthful punk attitude, polished with glam rock pop hooks and sped up to faster tempos. (Or at least that's how I hear it.) The boys were just 16-20 years old when they recorded it but they sound seasoned and both "Rock Brigade" and "Wasted" presaged their future sound. Metal veteran Tom Allom (Sabbath, Priest) produced the debut album but the boys partnered with Mutt Lange for their sophomore effort.

    You can hear all the pop-metal sonic hallmarks of the next two albums (Pyromania [1983] and Hysteria [1987]) running throughout 1981's High N Dry: multi-tracked guitars and vocals, polished production and hook-filled songwriting. From the opening track "Let It Go" through the infinity of "No, No, No" (on vinyl, the word "No" would repeat until you took needle off the record) there are twice as many hits as misses. In fact, Side One (tracks 1-5) is incredibly strong while the first three tracks (6-8) on Side Two kind of lose momentum before picking back up with final two tracks. The two songs that close out the frist side actually segue together: "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" (a prototypical power ballad) leads right into the uptempo instrumental epilogue "Switch 625", which is probably my favorite Def Lep track ever. The album was re-released in 1984 after Pyromania set the charts afire (we-ooh, we-ooh, here come the pun police!) with two bonus tracks tacked on: a synth heavy remix of "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" that soundtracked a new video and the unfortunate ode to alcoholism "Me & My Wine" which also came with a video.

    If you ever feel the burning desire to continue your Def Leppard listening activities, pick up their double disc Rock Of Ages: The Definitive Collection from 2005. It includes the best 60% of High 'n' Dry and the two tracks I mentioned from On Through The Night

    As stated in recent interviews, a beef with their label has kept the band from allowing their back catalog out in the digital arena (no iTunes, no Spotify, nothing) though they have re-recorded and self-released a few songs which sound eerily close to the 30 year old originals... until Joe's vocals kick in.

    After adding the Beatles entire catalog as Local Files in Spotify, Def Leppard was the second band to get that treatment in my collection. We've seen them live three times in their prime:

    9/7/83 (where Elliott made the mistake of repeating the offensive term he heard his roadies call the Texas Mexicans the night before in El Paso and was rightly booed by his Tucson Mexcian fans)

    11/18/87 (two months after the birth of our first child - it was the first time we had been away from her for any extended amount of time and we did not enjoy the show because of this, even leaving after just 11 songs - according to setlist.fm, they perfomed four more songs and each guitarist took an extended solo set)

    8/21/88 (nine months made a world of difference: different setlist and we enjoyed it immensely although the parking lot lights went out after the show and it took nearly two hours to get out of there)

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