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 band’s catalog 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.
Def Leppard is yet another band that 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. So, 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 record saw Def Leppard embrace their roots quite frankly, as it debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200 while selling 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 “like” the ones that were written in “Hysteria” mixed with the “High and Dry” production style.” Whenever you search 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. In addition, some stretches of the record lacked focus—nonetheless, another pretty solid effort 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’
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. An instant classic that screams masterpiece, this was the album that die-hard fans were all waiting on. The record beckons the vibe of yesteryears as it wanders on down the retro tracks. Stand-out songs 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. From top to bottom, a solid album, ‘Adrenalize,‘ represents Def Leppard’s complete transition from heavy metal pioneers to pop-metal icons. This album is still catchy as ever today…29 years later!
6. ‘Slang’ (1996)
If this were a popularity contest, ‘Slang‘ would place much lower on the list. However, this is a “best of” ranking, and the album frankly kicks ass! While musical styles and genres shifted from glam/thrash to grunge, times were difficult for bands used to playing heavy metal. Nonetheless, Def Leppard released this stalwart as they transcended their musical boundaries both musically and lyrically. The result was a terrific blend of the 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 and undoubtedly remains their most underrated effort to date!
5. ‘On Through The Night’ (1980)
Def Leppard purists will certainly attack me for this one. ‘On Through The Night‘ captures the band at its heaviest, while their most “metal” album remains raw and unfiltered! The dynamic guitar combo of Willis/Clark provided a shred fest on tracks like “Wasted” and “Rocks Off,” which to this day remain some of the group’s heaviest material ever! Remember, this was when the British Invasion was in its earliest stages, and bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden dominated that scene. However, 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 an absolute game-changer. In both production and results, this heavy metal masterpiece reached #2 on the Billboard Top 200. The record produced many hit singles, including “Pyromania,” “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Foolin,” among the most notable. However, the deep cuts are what separates this record from the pack. Tracks like “Comin Under Fire,” “Die Hard the Hunter,” and “Billy’s Got a Gun” are watershed efforts for the band! If we were taking a poll today, ‘Pyromania‘ would definitely take the cake for the band’s most popular record! Getting closer to the top now, but no cigar.
3. ‘Retroactive’ (1993)
Casuals and mainstream Leppard fans will question the placement of this record so high on the list. But loyal metal fans and knowledgeable music critics 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 feature material from Steve Clark. It’s all KILLER, no FILLER, and although pretty much all of the tracks are re-worked versions of old tunes dating all the way back to the Def Leppard EP from 1979, one could argue that these songs all could have fit on previous albums even more than some of the tracks that did make the cuts. The album charted at #9 on the US Billboard Top 200 and went platinum. But more important than album sales, this record showed a much different side to the band in songs such as the dark and haunting “Dessert Song” or the even darker acoustic “From the Inside” about drugs and addiction from the point of view of the drugs. ‘Retroactive‘ is a must-listen for any fan of Def Leppard and is arguably their last GREAT album!
2. ‘High N’ Dry’ (1981)
‘High and Dry‘ was the band’s second studio album and the first to feature producer Mutt Lange, who had just taken AC/DC into the stratosphere. The album’s production was leaps and bounds better than the previous effort and showed that Def Leppard was ready to take the next step. The album hits the ground running with the hard-hitting combo of “Let it Go” and “Another Hit and Run.” From there, the band keeps the pedal to the metal with rockers like “Mirror Mirror…Look Into My Eyes,” “You Got Me Runnin,” and “Lady Strange.” “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak,” the one ballad on the record, was released as a single to moderate success but was re-released as a single after the smash success of Pyromania and remains a staple of their live show and one of their most popular songs today. This album is the heaviest of Leppard’s catalog and remains a 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 and of themselves). 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, which made the 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 and still remains the crown jewel for Def Leppard as they struck gold. This album is so good…it was ranked as the Top Hair Metal album of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. Hard rock’s answer to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” was a grand slam hole in one.