Written By Jason Voorhees
During last week's episode, we chronicled Black Sabbath's top ten albums of all-time. Hopefully, you all enjoyed the content, and we received plenty of feedback, both positive and negative.
Being a die-hard fan of heavy metal, it was easy to take a deep dive into the catalog of the band that started it all. Black Sabbath is the perfect place to begin when traversing the heavy metal landscape. With that being said, it's time to embark on another journey into another band's path and to rank their most notable albums.
In this segment, we will focus on the British rock icons, Def Leppard.
This is yet another band that truly needs no backstory as their work speaks for itself. Over 100 million records sold worldwide. 2 Albums that have achieved RIAA Diamond certification. One of only five bands ever to sell over ten million copies on two original studio albums in US history. And a band that finally joined the ranks of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
Def Leppard has overcome many odds during their existence, and they have produced many great albums in their day. Without further ado, here are Def Leppard's Top Ten albums of all-time...
10. Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)
The album was an arena-rock classic that rejuvenated the ever-popular band. This album saw Def Leppard embrace their roots quite frankly. It debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200 and sold 55,000 copies during its first week. Not bad for a band that had begun to descend the popularity ranks during the previous few years. The band members described the album tracks as being written in "Hysteria" with the "High and Dry production style." Any time you are searching for success, it's always a good idea to go back to what got you to the top, and this was no different. The band even recruited country singer Tim McGraw who performed on the super single "Nine Lives." Overall this was a solid effort for Leppard and put the band back on the map. A definite must-own for all Def Leppard purists.
9. Euphoria (1999)
Mutt Lange was back, and the results did not disappoint. Although his role was limited, the material was well worth the wait. Euphoria debuted at #11 on the US Billboard Top 200 while producing the smash hit single "Promises," which Lange was responsible for creating. While the album invoked a similar style as Hysteria, it, unfortunately, missed the mark with some of the material. Some stretch where the album lacked focus—nonetheless, another pretty solid effort and worthy of top ten prowess. Despite the album's inconsistency, it did earn gold certification and, according to the band, ranks among their best albums of all-time. Taking all of that into account, the album slots in at #9.
8. Def Leppard (2015)
Finally, there was a return to the band's glory days. Def Leppard's self-titled album was the perfect annex for time travel as they were able to step back into the eighties gracefully, and the results were priceless. It's an instant classic that screams masterpiece. This was the album that die-hard fans were all waiting on. Undoubtedly, An album that went back to the good ole days of yesteryear. A solid effort up and down the lineup littered with star power. Stand-out tracks include "Let's Go," "Dangerous," "Man Enough," "We Belong," among many others. Worthy of the top ten and one of Leppard's most consistent studio albums ever. If you have not heard this one, you will want to check it out as I dare you to be disappointed.
7. Adrenalize (1992)
Unfortunately, the fifth studio effort for Def Leppard came at the low point for the band following the untimely death of guitarist Steve Clark. As if that was not hard to deal with in itself for the band personally, the album was also the follow-up to their most significant effort ever with Hysteria. Despite all of the turmoil, Adrenalize was a massive success as the album debuted at #1 on the US Billboard Top 200. A magnificent blend of hard rock mixed with a potent pop-rock flavor. Released during the infancy of digital, the sound production may have been a bit overdone, but it succeeded in winning over the audience. A solid album from top to bottom, Adrenalize represents Def Leppard's complete transition from heavy metal pioneers to pop-metal icons. This album is still catchy today...28 years later!
6. Slang (1996)
If this were a popularity contest, Slang would probably fall much lower on this list. However, this is a "best of" list, which means that all boxes must be checked off to get an idea of the album's overall achievement truly. With that being said, Slang may be the most underrated album of Def Leppard's career. While musical styles and genres shifted from glam to grunge, bands were difficult for bands used to playing glam and thrash metal. Nonetheless, Def Leppard was able to release this stalwart as they transcended their musical boundaries both musically and lyrically. The result was a terrific blend of grunge sound with a balance of their classic sound and energy. I must admit that when this album was first released, I hated it, but it has aged better than your local fine wine and spirits. It belongs among the best of Leppard's catalog.
5. On Through The Night (1980)
This was the album where it all began. 'On Through The Night' was Def Leppard at its heaviest, and the sound was delightful. Their most "metal" album ever produced, their debut release was raw and to the point. Steve Clark and Pete Willis formed a dynamic duo on guitars that could shred with the best of them. Songs like "Wasted" and "Rocks Off" are still to this day considered some of Def Leppard's heaviest sounding tracks ever. Remember, this was when the British Invasion was in its earliest stages, and bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden dominated that scene. Def Leppard provided a unique sound that genuinely was original and different, and the fans loved it. The first may not have been their most polished effort, but it certainly put Def Leppard on the map, and there was no turning back.
4. Pyromania (1983)
While On Through the Night was the album that put Def Leppard in the game, Pyromania was the absolute game-changer. A Heavy Metal masterpiece in both production and results, and the rest is history. The album reached #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and produced many hit singles, including "Pyromania," "Photograph," "Rock of Ages," and "Foolin," among the most notable. A classic from top to bottom, this album cemented Def Leppard's rise to the top of hard rock and heavy metal glory. If you were to take a poll...this album would almost absolutely take the cake as far as everyone's favorite Def Leppard album. Heavy but yet pop sounding. Mention worthy when ranking the band's top album ever. For me, it's close, but no cigar as others check more boxes.
3. Retroactive (1993)
Casuals and mainstream Leppard fans may be questioning the placement of this album so high on the list. But loyal metal fans and knowledgeable music fans will recognize the truth to the madness. This was the first installment of the Vivian Campbell era in Def Leppard, and this album is a natural diamond in the rough. While Vivian brought a new dynamic to the band, this album was the last to include material from Steve Clark. Overall, this may have been the band's most complete piece of all-time. It charted at #9 on the US Billboard Top 200 and going platinum in record sales. But more important than notoriety and album sales, this album showed that Def Leppard could be just as dynamic with a new guitarist in their toe. Retroactive is hugely underrated and is the band's most dynamic album ever produced with a mixture of ballads and some heavy kick-ass riffs. Solid from top to bottom.
2. High and Dry (1981)
High and Dry was the band's second studio album and the first to feature producer Mutt Lange. The album's production was leaps and bounds better than the previous album and showed that Def Leppard was ready to be players in the heavy metal community. The record hits the ground running with "Let it Go" and doesn't look back. Overall a classic from beginning to end; there is not a clunker to be found. Tracks like "Another Hit and Run" and "Mirror Mirror...Look into My Eyes" have star power written all over them. While "You Got Me Runnin" and "Lady Strange" keep the ball rolling. "Bringin' On the Heartbreak" was their first true ballad that foreshadowed their rise to pop. This one may be the catchiest Leppard album ever produced and remains my personal favorite.
1. Hysteria (1987)
Do you believe in miracles? Well, this album indeed should have made you a believer as Hysteria was nothing short of spectacular. Numbers alone do not show this album's sheer amazingness (although over 25 million records sold worldwide are not too shabby in itself). Every song on the album was a potential #1 hit. Six of the twelve tracks made it to the Top 20, something only a few albums have ever been able to accomplish. The band produced this album with a one-armed drummer made that feat that much more memorable. When looking back at albums that made lasting impacts on a band's legacy, you would be hard-pressed to find one that matches up to this one. This was the crown jewel for Def Leppard, and they struck gold. This album is so good...it was ranked as the Top Hair Metal album of all-time by Rolling Stone Magazine. This was hard rock's answer to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." They hit a grand slam and inside the park home run on this one, folks.
Stories, news and reviews presented by the staff of Philly Rock Radio.