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Def Leppard’s ‘Pyromania’ Turns 30

Pyromania
Mercury Records

The 1980s were well under way by January 1983 – even mathematical geniuses like us can figure that out – but when it came to defining the look, the sound and the vibe of the ’80s, there’s no arguing Def Leppard’s third album, ‘Pyromania,’ released 30 years ago today (Jan. 20), played a major role.

In a year that would see Quiet Riot’s No. 1 album, ‘Metal Health,’ signal hard rock’s unlikely emergence as one of the decade’s most commercially dominant music genres, Def Leppard’s success would reach epic proportions.

Now, Leppard’s talent and drive to succeed notwithstanding, few would dispute the claim that the true architect behind ‘Pyromania’s’ inevitable triumph was producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lang, whose studio wizardry had allowed him to deliver hit album after hit album in recent years, most notably AC/DC’s seismic ‘Back in Black.’

In 1981, Lang had taken Def Leppard under his wing by producing their equally stupendous, but significantly rawer ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ album; but he truly pulled out all the stops for ‘Pyromania,’ demanding nothing less than perfection from the band and even taking matters into his own hands when necessary – including a few co-songwriting credits and using a drum machine in place of drummer Rick Allen.

Controversial as these decisions might seem today, they worked, and beginning with the February release of ‘Pyromania’s’ first single, ‘Photograph,’ the hard-touring Brits would gradually conquer America.

Three additional singles and music videos (‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘Foolin’,’ and ‘Too Late for Love’) assaulted the charts before year’s end; their slick, sonically manicured pop metal anthems combining with Leppard’s photogenic good looks to drive a remarkable 6 million copies of ‘Pyromania’ into American households. The album has since been certified Diamond for 10 million units shipped.

More importantly in the grand scheme of all things hard rock, this irresistible audio-visual combination became a blueprint quickly adopted by gaggles of up-and-coming bands (not to mention the savvy music industry executives who signed them), all aspiring to concoct the next ‘Pyromania.’

That’s why, beginning in January 1983, ’80s hard rock would almost always be created in Def Leppard’s image, as heard and seen on ‘Pyromania.’

Watch Def Leppard’s ‘Rock of Ages’ Video

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