All-Time Albums: #86



Women 5:41
Rocket 6:34 (UK single, #15)
Animal 4:02 (UK single, #6)
Love Bites 5:46 (UK single, #11)
Pour Some Sugar On Me 4:25 (UK single, #18)
Armageddon It 5:21 (UK single, #20)
Gods Of War 6:33
Don’t Shoot Shotgun 4:26
Run Riot 4:39
Hysteria 5:49 (UK single, #26)
Excitable 4:19
Love And Affection 4:35


During the second half of the ’80s in the US, the biggest threat to Michael Jackson commercially was not Madonna, or Prince, but a group of blokes from Sheffield who weren’t nearly as popular in their homeland. Hysteria changed that slightly, by debuting at #1 and siring half a dozen UK Top 40 entries, but it still paled into insignificance next to the multi-million levels it was achieving Stateside.

Few campaigns sum up just how structured and planned the whole business could be in the 1980s, as singles were chosen with almost cynical care and attention, and they were staggered with military precision to maximise the continued dominance of the parent album. Fair play, you could say; with a set of songs as durable and enjoyable as those on Hysteria, why wouldn’t you try and get the most out of them?

For better or worse, I used to listen to a fair bit of poodle rock, hair metal, call it what you will. The genre was fairly prominent in the charts, so you didn’t have to go searching for Whitesnake, Poison, Bon Jovi and their ilk. Grunge was just around the corner, waiting with a sweaty T-shirt, torn jeans and greasy hair to plunge an axe into the entire bloated circus by 1991, yet it was fun at the start.

Hysteria’s genius, the reason it can withstand repeated listens, is in Mutt Lange’s obsessive attention to detail; the way he developed a trademark for deconstructing every line, every chord change, every melody, and worked on them until all that was left was a wall of hook-laden sound and layers of harmonies. He did it with The Cars, and he went on to do it for Bryan Adams. The downside is there’s absolutely no room for anything quirky, any deviation from Hitsville AOR.; Hysteria’s few moments of respite (the synth-heavy intro to Women, Love Bites’ middle eight, the climax of Gods Of War) therefore stand out all the more.

The band and Mutt went their separate ways after this album, the boys determined to fashion a second strike of lighting on their own with 1992’s Adrenalize, while Lange conquered the world all over again with Everything I Do, so Hysteria stands as a vivid example of Soft Metal’s ability to be commercial without losing its balls.

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