Def Leppard’s perennial favorite Hysteria came along at just the right time

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My history with Def Leppard may have started with 1983’s Pyromania, one of the greatest hard rock albums ever, but Hysteria holds a very special place in my heart. Like a couple of my other favorite albums of all time (Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime and Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son), it came along at just the right time — Aug. 3 1987, mid-teenage years, when I picked it up based solely out of a love for Pyromania.

Thereupon would begin a nearly two-year stint of daily listening to Def Leppard’s Hysteria, the kind of listening that seemed to only happen at that time in my life. After that, life got much busier and it became much more difficult to fit in a one-hour listening session every day.

For a couple of years there, however, I somehow managed to complete the ritual nearly every day, at least more than several times a week — something I can’t say ever happens nowadays even with my most prized CDs. But I do still spin Hysteria, and often find a brief glint of the same pull the album had for me years ago.

Some credit goes to a 2006 deluxe edition, which packed Def Leppard’s original 12-song album in remastered format with four studio B-sides on Disc 1. Disc 2, meanwhile, culled the live B-sides from the era together in one place with a number of remixes, rounded out by the hilarious-one-time “Release Me.”

I, of course, had all of these B-sides on seven-inch vinyl (and still do) that came in sleeves that would recreate the album cover in giant form. Of course, Def Leppard ended up only releasing seven singles off Hysteria (“only” seven — ha!), so the remaining two spaces in the nine-piece puzzle will apparently remain forever empty. Regardless, I was thrilled to have everything in one place finally: When I tracked down all the seven-incher, I hastily made a tape copy of the B-sides and never played them again.

That Def Leppard tape saw a lot of action. The B-sides from this era (besides the joke “Release Me,” of course, and those unnecessary remixes) were spectacular leftovers. Some would end up on Def Leppard’s rarities release RetroActive, but not in the form I originally heard them.

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