DVD REVIEW: Classic Albums – Def Leppard – Hysteria (DVD)

Part 2 of a 2 part Def Lep extravaganza

DEF LEPPARD – Classic Albums – Hysteria (2002 Eagle Vision DVD)

Of all the Classic Albums DVDs that I own, this is one of the most frequently played. And I own a lot. In case you didn’t know, Classic Albums is a fantastic series of discs. Go back into the recording studio where the album was made, with the producer or engineer who recorded it, and the band themselves. You get to hear the original multitrack tapes deconstructed, and we get to hear the band talking about the genesis of the songs and what happened in the studio. Best of all, we get to see the band listening and discovering parts that even they forgot.

Hysteria is such a rich, textured, thick album with a long story so this DVD is an obvious slam dunk. The only thing it lacks is Mutt Lange’s knowledge (a notorious recluse). Otherwise, the band go back to the beginning with the early demos. “Animal” was sparse but remarkably recognizable while still in demo form, down to the false ending. Something like “Rocket” is deconstructed so you can hear the drum orchestra that was laid down, while Joe Elliott talks about how it was inspired. The backing vocals of “Gods of War” are laid out bare, virtually every single word sung and recorded separately! That’s the kind of album this is.

Along with that, Joe, Phil and Sav also perform bits live in the studio. This helps to illustrate the individual parts further.  It is revealed to “Love Bites” was brought to the band by Lange as a country song; you can hear the roots on this DVD.  Rick Allen is there to discuss his accident, an obviously emotional moment. Steve Clark is discussed too, and Vivian Campbell is on hand to talk about the numerous guitar parts that he inherited and has to play live.

JEFF RICHMy favourite feature of this DVD is actually in the bonus material.  It’s the chapter that covers the first shows that Leppard played after Rick Allen’s accident. Originally, Jeff Rich from Status Quo was tapped to play a second drum kit alongside Allen on stage, just in case Allen got tired, slipped out of time, or couldn’t finish the show. There were so many variables that nobody knew what would happen during what really amounted to Allen’s comeback shows. Well, for one show in the middle of nowhere, Jeff Rich was late.  If he had turned up on time, maybe Rick Allen would never have found out that he could play a full Def Leppard show on his own.  Allen did the show with no help on the drums, and he nailed it.  Rich told Allen that he didn’t need any more help, and that was it!   Jeff Rich is there to talk about that day, which was a nice touch.

Of the whole Classic Albums series, this one is certainly my favourite.

5/5 stars


  1. Love love LOVE this DVD (and album too). One of the best entries in the series (along with Maiden, Metallica, Phil Collins, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder & Queen).

    And what a first gig for Rick Allen to play after the accident – Donington Monsters of Rock. Wow. I’ve read (or heard) somewhere that there was a lot of emotion displayed at this gig from both crowd and band.

    My only gripe with this whole series is that the later ones (on DVD) tend to have more content as bonus features than the earlier ones. Obviously the series picked up more steam as it went on so they knew the demand was there for extra content.

    I’m a sucker for any sort of music documentary no matter whether I like the music or not, I’ll still watch it. Although I must say the Duran Duran one has only had one viewing….. ;)


    1. I have a lot of the ones you mentioned John. The Maiden is another favourite. Not because the music was so layered or complex, but because of the scene where Bruce is chased by the ball from The Prisoner!

      I have not bought anything from this series recently, apart from Sabbath’s Paranoid. I wish we got a channel where that showed these on TV. The first one I saw was Fleetwood Mac, and I said, “Yeah, I’m watching more of these!”


  2. This are a great series of DVDs and this is the absolute best of the bunch. I’d say my next favourites would possible be the Hendrix and The Who ones but they’re all usually well worth watching. But this is easily the best. It’s just a shame Joe Elliot was having such a bad hair day and that Boaby John “Mutt” Lange couldn’t be involved. And the busked version of Pour Some Sugar on Me is absolutely hilarious.


    1. BOABY.

      Mutt Lange is a recluse, I was surprised they had any relevant interview footage of him at all.

      He’s quite reviled among country fans in Canada. You don’t cheat on Shania Twain. You just don’t. I don’t know if her career will ever recover, she has yet to release anything post-Mutt. He produced every single hit she ever had.


      1. The footage they had was from a cool documentary that came out on the TV here in the UK after Hysteria came out. I remember Pete Willis being interviewed on it too and not knowing who he was! (Didn’t have the 1st two albums at that point)

        I wish I could remember what the doc was called, I’d love to see it again.

        But anyway… yeah, you just don’t cheat on Shania! BAD BOABY!


        1. Is it just because, I mean, look at her? If you had that in your bed you’d never have a reason to get out of bed? The assumption being she wants it like that… I dunno, maybe she wasn’t a goer like that. Maybe she’s an a-hole. Maybe she’s CRAZY. Maybe the money went to their heads and they forgot how to talk to each other. Maybe she cheated first and we just never heard about it. Lotsa reasons why people step outside.

          But think of it like this, maybe he had to cheat. She’s a country singer… how is she gonna write songs if she doesn’t live what she’s singing?


        2. Maybe she loves the boaby too much? Or maybe she doesn’t love the boaby enough? Or maybe Boaby just couldn’t keep his boaby in his pants? Who knows… you’d need to ask Boaby. And he’s a recluse.


  3. Your write-up makes me wanna watch this. I only owned one of these Classic Album things, for Metallica’s Black record, and it was pretty cool. Except Lars is a twat and I wanted to smack him. But that’s always been true. Anyway, Def Leppard. This’d be cool to see. Well done!


  4. Hey folks, this is Aaron with a test post to Mike’s comments to make sure the switch I’ve made is working.

    I’ve been posting here as isaacandsophie for ages. But the KMA is the blog I use daily, so I’ve switched usernames to keepsmealive. May as well go with what I’m already using more often.

    New user name, same old Aaron. Rawk on, brothers and sisters!


  5. Cool review Mike esp the Jeff Rich part…..remember reading about him and the Donnington deal….good flashback


  6. I’ve never cared much for Def Leppard but I kind of want to check out this DVD. I have to give the drummer some props for playing with one arm, that’s pretty amazing. Even if I don’t care for the band he’s playing in.
    My favorite thing about Def Leppard is that off-color joke. Not sure if I should air it here. I don’t want to get my virtual ass kicked.


    1. I know the joke, it’s OK if you wanna tell it. I think most have heard it.

      I find a lot of the Classic Albums DVDs interesting even if I DON’T like the music too much. It’s almost irrelevant because I love seeing the process of making it!


      1. It is always really cool to see the process of how things come together and what the band was going through at the time. I have the Dark Side of the Moon one and I’ve seen one from Meatloaf and Queen.
        By the way, what has 9 arms and sucks?


        1. Haha.

          but the real punch line should add “…since 1989”.

          Scene a few of these, love the Floyd ones, Rush obviously and the Maiden, Metallica and a few others. Always cool to see how your favorite albums came into being.


        2. Another great viewing for that: Dave Grohl’s Sound City movie! I have been trying and failing to review that for a YEAR now; such power it contains.

          My favouruite quote: Rick Rubin saying to Tom Petty: “I don’t think you’re aiming as high as you should be.” Must take balls to say that to Tom Petty.


        3. BWAHAH!

          Do you remember the old joke? You’d put your hand on someone’s head and say, “What’s this?” (Answer: A Brain-sucker. Starving.)

          I have Dark Side, that one is wonderful. I enjoyed hearing how Alan Parsons recorded all the clocks.


  7. In answer to Heavy Metal Overlord, the Leppard doc was called “Rock of Ages: The Def Leppard Story” and it was made for the BBC in 1989. I think they only ever showed it twice, once in late summer and once as part of the Christmas Heavy Metal Heaven season hosted by Elvira! I taped it on VHS back in the day and watched it to death and ultimately digitised it to preserve it as the tape was getting a bit sorry for itself.

    The show has that footage of Mutt, which is possibly some of the only footage I’ve ever seen of the man talking about Leppard and which is recycled quite a lot. It also has some really interesting stuff about the MSB Management situation and Pete Willis also crops up to talk about his exit from the band, which is interesting since it was filmed a few years after the split and just before he launced his Roadhouse band.

    It’s also a bit of a sad watch since it has interview footage of Steamin’ Steve where he talks about life post-Hysteria tour and about the future of Leppard. Considering he would only live another year or so, it’s ironic and slightly bitter-sweet that his section was filmed in a pub.

    I must get this on YouTube or something as it’s a great record of the band filmed before some of the REALLY bad stuff that happened to the band.

    Also of note from Auntie Beeb is the “Fighting Back” show from 1992 which features a whole half-hour of Rick Allen talking about his life and struggles (pre horrendous airport bathroom incident, of course). I assume that Mr Overlord will have seen this?


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