Def Leppard’s Phil Collen has reflected on the band’s classic 1987 album Hysteria.

The follow-up to 1983’s Pyromania was a massive success, racking up more than 25 million sales worldwide and spawned hit singles including Animal, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Love Bites and Armageddon It.

And while looking back on the record with Music Radar, the guitarist acknowledges its lasting legacy.

Collen says, “I think it’s the best thing we ever did. It was our commercial and creative zenith. Most of the credit goes to producer Mutt Lange, because he really pushed us to do something different.

The first thing he said was, ‘We can’t make Pyromania 2, because every other rock band in the world is doing that. We’ve got to dig a bit deeper, and it’s gonna be a lot of hard work.

Jimi Hendrix probably could have done it in his sleep. But us mere mortals have to work hard at it. But it paid off. Because here we are, 30 years later, still talking about it.”

Collen continues, “The thing is, a lot of guitar players, they all read from the same book, play from the same licks. With that album, we worked. We went somewhere. Mutt taught us how to sing, how to play guitar better. I came out of Hysteria a better player, without a doubt.”

Collen says that “the melody was king” on the album and that the guitars were there to enhance the sound, and adds, “Hysteria does sound like an 80s album, but it was trying to. It was trying to cross over, and hard rock bands didn’t really do that. There was a big difference between, say, Priest, Maiden and us. We were more in the area of The Police and Billy Idol and even ZZ Top, who were a blues band – but they’d done this electronic album, Eliminator and had their biggest hit. It wasn’t about trying to be a big, macho rock band. It was about trying to create great music.”

Read the full interview with Collen over on Music Radar, where the guitarist talks about his approach to playing on the landmark album, the riffs he used on Hysteria, the solos, and much more.

Earlier this year, Def Leppard released the 30th anniversary edition of Hysteria on several different editions, including a super-deluxe package and a double vinyl version.

source: Classic Rock via

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  • gregg forbes on


    • Dana on

      I second that one, with High N’ Dry, just a smidgen, behind.

  • robert davenport on

    when I heard High N dry I thought this is really something this could be another all time great British band – then pyromania came out followed by hysteria…… I agree with Keith G they lost me with hysteria
    calculated middle of the road metal for the masses –

  • shannon mehaffey on

    Russ Ballard wrote a record called Barnet Dogs which he released in 1980, and this record was the precursor to Pyromania. Recommend vinyl.

  • DR Is Live on

    One has to remember that Phil did not play on High and Dry, and essentially did some work on Pyromania but came in on the back half of that recording. So his comment on Hysteria is extremely self serving as it’s the first recording to feature him 100%. You can argue that either Pyromania or High and Dry are their best, not Hysteria. I just realized as I type this that Phil Collen wrecked Def Leppard.

    • Keith G on

      I wouldn’t go that far, DR. Phil is a terrific guitar player. When you remember that they dropped Pete W. because of his drinking, and Steve C. drinking himself to death later on, you could argue that Phil saved Def Leppard! But there is no doubt that Phil changed the direction of Def Leppard when he came into the band. He definitely brought a more mainstream pop feel to their songwriting. Again, not my cup of tea, but it worked for them in that they achieved huge commercial success.

    • Rattlehead on

      I think a lot the Hysteria success goes to producer Mutt Lange, who began the transition of Leppard’s sound beginning with Bringing on the Heartbreak from the High N Dry album. And it reached its pinnacle with Hysteria. One can really hear the sound difference between On Through the Night album and the Lange produced High H Dry album.

      I think Hysteria is a good pop rock album, but I overwhelmingly prefer the hard rock stylin’s of High N Dry. first, and On Through the Night, second.

    • DR Is Live on

      Keith, with all due respect your point has nothing to do with mine. I’m talking factual history. He was not part of H+D and played a small part on Pyromania and was a staple in the touring line up. One could say he ‘saved’ Leppard, I would rather he was the beginning of the end of Leppard’s rock sound. I also think Rattlehead’s point is very accurate regarding Mutt. If you recall the Hysteria sessions we going terribly in the beginning cause Leppard couldn’t come up with shit. Mutt came back and got things rolling and four years later when it was done Leppard went Pop. If you honestly think about it, and you’re a fan of the first three Leppard recordings, Phil Collen has absolutely nothing to do with the pinnacle of Leppard’s creative success.

    • Keith G on

      DR, I am completely in agreement with your facts about Phil not being involved with HIGH AND DRY, and having little involvement in PYROMANIA. But I just don’t agree with your last statement that Phil “wrecked” Def Leppard. As Rattlehead pointed out, Mutt Lange was a HUGE influence on the sound of HYSTERIA. I wasn’t aware of the problems you mentioned with Def Leppard not being able to come up with songs for HYSTERIA before they brought Mutt back in, so I may have overstated it when I offered that maybe Phil saved the band. And I do agree that the first three Leppard albums are definitely the best things they ever released. But Phil is still a talented guitar player, and has been an integral part of the band for 35 years. Obviously, both he and the other band members have agreed that going in a more POP direction was what they wanted to do (they have all stated this in various interviews) with HYSTERIA. And it has worked for them, at least commercially. Since, as I previously stated, I dropped Def Leppard after the release of HYSTERIA, I really don’t have a “dog in this hunt”. I will simply state that I still enjoy Leppard’s first three records, and leave it at that.

  • Doug on

    “High N’ Dry” remains my all time favorite Lepp album, but I can see why Collen thinks “Hysteria” is their best. It’s was and remains a massive album. Side note, the S/T album they released just a few years ago, if released before let’s say, 1992, I think would have been huge, it’s a really strong album.

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