“Pour some sugar on me,” Def Leppard sang on their fourth album, and producer Mutt Lange obliged, coating songs like “Animal” and “Rocket” in a sweet multitracked glaze until they became the decade’s tastiest pop-metal candy. Not that Hysteria came easy: Def Leppard spent years in the studio before its 1987 release, interrupted by drummer Rick Allen losing his left arm in a car crash. (The fact that he stayed in the band suggests not only doggedness on his part but that Def Lep are one of the most loyal groups in rock & roll history.)
Hysteria‘s highlight, still: the title track, six gorgeous minutes of thwarted desire and honeyed anticipation. With guitars skittering lightly over throbbing synths and Joe Elliott trying to persuade a girl who’s just out of reach, it’s as close as Def Leppard ever came to restraint. The record label milked one hook-laden hit after another for two years: “Love Bites” and “Armageddon It” were a bit bombastic, but “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” which retooled hip-hop for mulletheads with lyrics like “You got the peaches/I got the cream,” went way past bombastic into the realm of genius.
Ten million copies later, Lange has married Shania Twain, Def Lep are doing glam-rock covers on the nostalgia circuit, and their biggest album now gets this double-disc reissue, with lots of outtakes and superfluous remixes. B sides like “Tear It Down” and “Ride Into the Sun” are better than some of the songs that made the original disc, but the most entertaining bonus track is the live “Rock of Ages” medley, where the band incorporates “My Generation,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Come Together,” “Not Fade Away” and “Radar Love” into one Frankenstein groove. The original singles still have the same sugar rush, but more than two hours of Hysteria proves to be too much, like eating five pounds of Skittles in one sitting.