Def Leppard: Hysteria
Vega vocalist Nick Workman on the monster album that came to define Leppard and helped define the 80s.
More than a decade into a sometimes schizophrenic career, the artist first known as John Cougar, and then John Cougar Mellencamp, had hit paydirt with his eighth album Scarecrow in 1985. That had established him and his band as America’s heartland rockers of choice.
“When we walked out on stage,” Mellencamp said some 30 years later, “there wasn’t a better band in the world. I don’t care who you name – U2, the Rolling Stones – we were better. And we knew it.”
For his next album, Mellencamp wanted to make a record that expanded his sound to take in tradAmerican folk and country colours, and that also summed up the bluecollar mood of his country at the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
When released in the summer of 1987, The Lonesome Jubilee was Mellencamp’s most richly sketched and influential records. The sound, and the homespun wisdom weaved into songs such as Paper In Fire and We Are The People, set a template for the next generation of country rockers.
It went on to become Mellencamp’s best seller, and was also the beginning of what proved to a long retreat from the mainstream and towards his current status as a cult-ish, grizzled old coot hailed by Johnny Cash as one of America’s 10 greatest ever songwriters. PR
‘The sound of the album set a template for the next generation of
John Mellencamp: hailed by Johnny Cash as one of America’s 10 greatest