The 40th anniversary edition of Def Leppard's Pyromania: Come for the originals, stay for the "utterly fierce" unreleased live album

Def Leppard's difficult third album, which lit the blue touch-paper for the band, now expanded with demos and live albums

Def Leppard: Pyromania 40th anniversary edition artwork detail
(Image: © Bludgeon Riffola)

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Not long after the album was released in January 1983, Pyromania looked to be Def Leppard’s ultimate hit. Next album Hysteria changed that, but Pyromania remains their second-biggest seller. Sales of just over 10 million – only a couple of platinum discs behind its follow-up – paint Pyromania as Hysteria’s snotty little brother. Fewer hits, less time on MTV for sure, but… rockier. The one that it’s cooler to love. 

Its creation, though, was ridiculously fraught. Producer Mutt Lange’s legendary quest for perfection led to constant re-recording and overdubs that drove every member of the band crazy at some point. Equally painful was taking the decision midway through to sack founding guitarist Pete Willis for his increasingly dysfunctional behaviour. Fortunately the choice of Phil Collen as replacement proved inspired – meaning that Pyromania still sounds stunning 40 years on.

The deluxe version, in a vinyl albumsized box, includes four CDs, a largeformat book (ace notes by Classic Rock’s Paul Elliott) plus a Blu-ray (containing Atmos/5.1/ Stereo/instrumental mixes, and five promo videos). CD1 presents the original 10-song album, remastered. Rock Rock (Till You Drop), Photograph, Stagefright, Too Late For Love, Die Hard The Hunter, Foolin’, Rock Of Ages, Billy’s Got A Gun… sheesh, what a hot streak. Even ‘the other two’, Comin’ Under Fire and Action! Not Words, hold up well. 

CD2 is the cherry here, though. On it are 22 rarities including ‘the long lost unfinished eleventh track’ No You Can’t Do That, with a swaggering melody but, sadly, no vocals. Equally intriguing are six short untitled instrumental demos that reveal the band riffing, searching, digging for diamonds. Then come demos of five songs that emerged, raw but laden with promise. Finally, rough mixes of all 10 Pyromania tracks, in album order. ‘Rough’ is a relative term, given that they are Mutt Lange works-in-progress, but some reveal where Leppard actually dialled back on his embellishments.

Also in the box are two live CDs. One of them – a 15-song set from the LA Forum in September 1983 – is great, but was previously released in 2009 as part of the Pyromania Deluxe Edition. The other – a six-song set from December 1983, when Leppard were halfway up a seven-band festival bill in Dortmund, Germany – is previously unreleased, and utterly fierce. 

As well as various vinyl configurations, there’s also a two-CD version that pairs the remasters with just 11 of the Rarities and four LA Forum tracks… But the four-CD box is ‘only’ £75, so spoil yourself.

Neil Jeffries

Freelance contributor to Classic Rock and several of its offshoots since 2006. In the 1980s he began a 15-year spell working for Kerrang! intially as a cub reviewer and later as Geoff Barton’s deputy and then pouring precious metal into test tubes as editor of its Special Projects division. Has spent quality time with Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore – and also spent time in a maximum security prison alongside Love/Hate. Loves Rush, Aerosmith and beer. Will work for food.