Classic Rock

Def Leppard

Pyromania (40th Anniv. Edition) The difficult third album, which lit the blue touch-paper for the band.

- Neil Jeffries

Not long after the album was released in January 1983, Pyromania looked to be Def Leppard’s ultimate hit. Next album Hysteria changed that, but Pyromania remains their second-biggest seller. Sales of just over 10 million – only a couple of platinum discs behind its follow-up – paint Pyromania as

Hysteria’s snotty little brother. Fewer hits, less time on MTV for sure, but… rockier. The one that it’s cooler to love.

Its creation, though, was ridiculous­ly fraught. Producer Mutt Lange’s legendary quest for perfection led to constant re-recording and overdubs that drove every member of the band crazy at some point. Equally painful was taking the decision midway through to sack founding guitarist Pete Willis for his increasing­ly dysfunctio­nal behaviour. Fortunatel­y the choice of Phil Collen as replacemen­t proved inspired – meaning that Pyromania still sounds stunning 40 years on.

The deluxe version, in a vinyl albumsized box, includes four CDs, a largeforma­t book (ace notes by CR’s Paul Elliott) plus a Blu-ray (containing Atmos/5.1/ Stereo/instrument­al mixes, and five promo videos). CD1 presents the original 10-song album, remastered. Rock Rock (Till You Drop), Photograph, Stagefrigh­t, Too Late

For Love, Die Hard The Hunter, Foolin’, Rock Of Ages, Billy’s Got A Gun… sheesh, what a hot streak. Even ‘the other two’, Comin’ Under Fire and Action! Not Words, hold up well.

CD2 is the cherry here, though. On it are 22 rarities including ‘the long lost unfinished eleventh track’ No You Can’t Do That, with a swaggering melody but, sadly, no vocals. Equally intriguing are six short untitled instrument­al demos that reveal the band riffing, searching, digging for diamonds. Then come demos of five songs that emerged, raw but laden with promise. Finally, rough mixes of all 10 Pyromania tracks, in album order. ‘Rough’ is a relative term, given that they are

Mutt Lange works-in-progress, but some reveal where Leppard actually dialled back on his embellishm­ents.

Also in the box are two live CDs. One of them– a 15-song set from the LA Forum in September 1983 – is great, but was previously released in 2009 as part of the Pyromania Deluxe Edition. The other – a sixsong set from December 1983, when Leppard were halfway up a seven-band festival bill in Dortmund, Germany – is previously unreleased, and utterly fierce.

As well as various vinyl configurat­ions, there’s also a two-CD version that pairs the remasters with just 11 of the Rarities and four LA Forum tracks… But the fourCD box is ‘only’ £75, so spoil yourself.

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