Home > Reviews > REVIEW: Def Leppard – Pyromania (deluxe edition, 24kt gold Ultradisc II)

REVIEW: Def Leppard – Pyromania (deluxe edition, 24kt gold Ultradisc II)

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Another one that I wasn’t happy with my original review for.  I redid this one, with loads of new pics.  Here it is:  Pyromania redux!

DEF LEPPARD – Pyromania (1983, 24kt gold Ultradisc II, 2009 deluxe edition)

Pyromania is one of those landmark albums that every melodic rock fan should own: Over 10 million copies sold, four classic hit singles, and a sound that at the time was so new and fresh that everybody took notice. This is before Rick Allen’s accident, before Steve Clark’s death, and before Def Leppard had any serious hits. Three would prove to be their lucky number when they set down to record their third album.

Pyromania is also the only Leppard album to feature a three-guitar lineup, in a sense.  Pete Willis was fired mid-way through recording, ironically for alcohol abuse, the same illness that would take Steve Clark 8 years later.  Phil Collen (ex-Girl, with Phil Lewis of the future L.A. Guns) was hired to complete the unfinished guitar rhythms and solos.  Willis’ rhythm guitar appears on all 10 tracks, making this his final Def Leppard album.

Girl, featuring Phil Collen and Phil Lewis

Girl, featuring Phil Collen and Phil Lewis

At some point in the 1990’s, Pyromania was licensed out to Mobile Fidelity labs, who used the original master tapes to create a 24kt gold “Ultradisc II”.  The discs are “custom pressed” (don’t know what that really means) on gold, because it doesn’t oxidize (IE, it’ll last longer).  Although the back cover states that “all liner notes, photos and artwork from the original LP are faithfully recreated”, this is not so.  All the Ultradisc comes with are the lyrics, and nothing else.  Not even a producer credit.  And the weird thing is, Leppard didn’t even print lyrics in their albums at the time.

The ultradisc comes in its own unique case seen below, and does sound tremendous, I can vouch for that.  Does it sound better than the remaster?  Hell, I don’t know.  I’m no audiophile.  They both sound good to me!  The 24kt gold is obviously collectible, which is why I still have it, even though I upgraded to the deluxe since then.

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The Ultradisc II’s unique case

Now, onto the deluxe.  This was freshly remastered. It brings the glory of Mutt Lange’s groundbreaking production to daylight. The liner notes (by one of my favourite writers, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke) reveal Mutt’s obsession: At one point the band were laying down entire chords one note at a time in order to get the right alchemy. Their goal was to create an album that nobody had made before, and they succeeded. (Hard to believe that they would pull off the same stunt twice, and do it again on Hysteria, as different from Pyromania as Pyromania was from On Through the Night!)

This landmark album contains no weak songs:  All 10 of its tracks were valuable use of precious vinyl.  It even filled the vinyl, a full 45 minutes, pretty close to the maximum afforded by the format.  From the melancholy apocalyptic riffage of the power ballad “Too Late For Love”, to the manic gallop of “Rock! Rock! (‘Til You Drop)”, this album is nearly flawless.  Album cuts like “Comin’ Underfire” (tied for my favourite on the album) and “Stagefright” stick to the brain like peanut butter in the mouth.  (“Too Late” is my other favourite.)

And that’s not including the hits:  “Rock of Ages”, “Foolin'”, and “Photograph”, all classics in their own right, which I certainly hope you already know by heart.  The combo of Def and Mutt had, by this point, gotten quite good at writing riffs with hooks, and the songs to go with them.  “Rock of Ages” has a life of its own now, radio will never let this one die.  “Photograph” was a mid-tempo pop rock classic, pointing the way to Hysteria, four years later….

Unlike the Hysteria and Adrenalize deluxe editions on the market, Pyromania has no B-sides.  There were no extra tracks lying around unreleased, and no B-sides available. The liner notes reveal that an 11th song was written, but not much else is known about it.

Instead, the bonus second CD contains an awesome sounding show from the Pyromania tour. It’s important to remember that no live albums or videos were released by Def Leppard until post-Hysteria, so this is the only live release featuring Rick Allen before his accident. Def Leppard sound absolutely ferocious. Joe Elliot’s voice is at its vocal-cord-shredding best, gargling glass like Brian Johnson possessed. Steve Clark and Phil Collen (the new boy) rip and shred on their guitars, and weave them into a wall of thunder (listen to “Switch 625″). The two Ricks, Allen and Savage, keep it rolling on the rhythm, steady as she goes. And then Brian May of Queen even shows up at the end for a CCR cover tune (with a surprise foray into Led Zeppelin)! Some of these songs have never been heard live on a CD before. Indeed, Leppard rarely play anything pre-Pyromania anymore.

SAM_2505

I mean, it’s always a treat to hear “Wasted”, isn’t it?  Combine that with some great tunage from High N’ Dry, such as “Mirror Mirror” and “Another Hit and Run”.  These are some of my favourite Def Leppard tracks anyway, and to hear them live in ’83 by a young and hungry band is really, really entertaining.

Pyromania being their third release, it would have been totally appropriate (and in hindsight very wise, considering the gap between albums) to release this concert as a live album back in the 80’s as the band buckled in for the very hard Hysteria recording sessions. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen. At least we get to hear it now!

5/5 stars

Pictured below:  the three versions I currently own.  The original LP, the 24 kt gold Ultradisc II, and the deluxe. 

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  1. February 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    I have taken shots at these guys but have to admit that Pyromania was a fresh sound when released and still holds up after all these years. We should all be so lucky.

    Like

    • February 26, 2013 at 6:06 am

      You could certainly argue that nothing else they’ve done since sounds stands up. But I’ll save that argument for when I do Hysteria!

      Like

  2. February 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    This is by far my favorite Def Leppard album

    Like

    • February 26, 2013 at 6:06 am

      It’s great isn’t it? A high water mark for sure.

      Like

  3. February 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I owned this on cassette, from Columbia House, when I was a kid. Loved it, then. I imagine I still would. These days, I don’t own any DL, but if I were to start, I think this one would be an obvious choice as a place to start.

    Like

    • February 26, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Oops I take that back. I do own the single for when Love And Hate Collide, a generous gift from our very own LeBrain.

      Like

    • February 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      This is definitely a must. And with the deluxe you get a pretty badass live album too.

      Like

      • February 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

        You know me, I’d go for the old original.

        Like

        • February 26, 2013 at 10:46 pm

          They can be had for decent prices, wanna look in Tarana?

          Like

  4. February 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    My sister had this on vinyl and I used to “borrow” it when she wasn’t around. Definitely their best album!

    Like

    • February 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      I love Hysteria too, maybe more. But we’ll save that for another day. Some people think if is the first of their crappie albums.

      Like

      • February 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        I like Hysteria too and I didn’t see it as a complete comedown for them. I await your review of that one

        Like

        • February 28, 2013 at 7:29 am

          Hysteria is a special to me, in a lot of ways, it’s my highschool Def Lep album you know?

          On the other hand I just got a slew of some old classic Def Leppard singles and EP’s — all pre Pyromania — to sink my teeth into. I have a review of the Hello America single coming soon, with more to come.

          Like

  5. February 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Brilliant album, brilliant reissue, brilliant review. Nice work!

    Like

  6. September 11, 2013 at 4:47 am

    I clearly rememeber the first time I heard this album. My family had a boat on which we were spending our vacations in the Swedish arcapellago together with another family who had a boat exactly the same as ours. On one of the trips, we brought a friend who had a tape with Pyromania on one side and the first Van Halen record on the other. I was 15 at the time and was discovering new hard rock acts at full blast and it was the first time I heard either bands and I was floored, to say the least. We listened to this tape over and over until our ears bled and when it was time for us to dock in a harbor to fill up with fresh water, gas and do some grocery shopping, I went to the closest record store and bought both LPs, knowing that there was no way I could play either for weeks. But I just needed them there and we had the tape. Guess what the first thing I did when I came home…
    Pyromania will always be my all time fave Leppard album and the same with Van Halen’s debut. Ah, those memories…

    And speaking of Def Leppard, any fan of them are hearby advised to check out these guys. Full of catchy melodies, strong hooks, huge production and great songs mixed with a great performance, this album should appeal to any Leppard or melodic rock fan:

    http://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/melodic-rock/melodic-rock-reviews-2010/crazy-lixx-new-religion/

    And check out their latest album as well. A little more rough around the edges, but still a very good album:

    http://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/hard-rock/hard-rock-reviews-2012/crazy-lixx-riot-avenue/

    Like

    • September 11, 2013 at 7:14 am

      What a great story! I love personal stories like that! I remember that I recorded Pyromania from a friend’s LP, and I remember fitting the whole thing on one side of a 90 minute tape, barely. I can’t remember what the heck I put on the other side of that 90!

      Going to check your reviews…

      Like

      • September 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

        I also remember that my friend had put side two first so his tape started with Foolin’. It took a while for me to adjust to the fact that Rock Rock was the opening track on Pyromania…

        Like

        • September 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm

          I had a similar experience with Kiss Dynasty. The cassette version started with Charisma and ended with Dirty Livin’, with the sides reversed. And this was a store bought cassette!

          Like

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