So why is Def Leppard’s Pyromania on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
Def Leppard has been in my life since I was a little kid simply by means of MTV overexposure and living through that wacky decade of the 1980s. But it only occurred to me recently how much Pyromania specifically owes to AC/DC.
Which lead me to think about the difference between the two bands. I don’t have anything particularly against AC/DC, but they’re just not my favorite kind of music (spoiler: you’ll find nary an AC/DC album on this here best 1,000 albums ever project). Part of it is the lead singers’ voice (both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras), and part of it is that is that even at their best – such as songs like “Back in Black” – the sound just always feels slightly one dimensional.
Joe Elliot’s leads vocals on Pyromania, by contrast, are more dynamic but more importantly I find Def Leppard’s deft blend of heavy metal, glam rock, arena rock, and power pop to be uniquely pleasing.
And perhaps what’s best of all is that you can throw all of the above overboard when you listen to songs like “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)” and simply bang one’s head and/or shake one’s body parts in pure unintellectual musical bliss.
Right up until the moment, as instructed, that you drop, of course.
The best song on Pyromania, “Photograph,” leans into the band’s pop side with exceptional results.
I should note too that the production on the album is pristine. Steve Huey at All Music has a nice note on this:
Robert John “Mutt” Lange’s buffed-to-a-sheen production — polished drum and guitar sounds, multi-tracked layers of vocal harmonies, a general sanding of any and all musical rough edges, and a perfectionistic attention to detail — set the style for much of the melodic hard rock that followed.
I’m pretty sure that “Rock of Ages” was the first Def Leppard song that I ever heard. Keep in mind that I was really young, probably around nine years old, and I recall that I was confused as I sort of thought it was also some kind of religious song (which, turns out, that I was correct about).
“Rock of Ages” kicks off with the iconic and oddball, “gunter glieben glauchen globen.” This website explains:
What does that mean? The answer is it doesn’t mean anything. Producer Mutt Lange got tired of counting the band in with “1, 2, 3, 4…,” so he started saying this. The boys liked it so they put it in the song. It means so much, it means nothing.
And if that snippet of rando German sounds familiar to you but you can’t quite recall from where, it’s likely from when The Offspring sampled it on “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy),” off of Americana (#896 of best 1,000 albums ever).
In any event, I now think of “Rock of Ages” as the prototypical arena rock song where the lights would flash on the audience when it was the crowd’s turn to sing the lyrics along with the chorus. Which is to say it’s a big, catchy, rocking 1980s classic with energy for days.
“Foolin’” is a well-constructed power ballad that shows off the band’s group vocals quite nicely.
Some stats & info about Def Leppard – Pyromania
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, British Bands, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Pyromania released? 1983
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #365 out of 1,000
Def Leppard’s Pyromania on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Def Leppard’s Pyromania that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Rock, rock, ’til you drop. Rock, rock, never stop.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.