Def Leppard: “Women” / “Tear it Down” (1987)
Four years is a long time ... and it’s a virtual eternity to a teenager, so you can’t even imagine (and I can barely remember) what it felt like for me and other Def Leppard fans to wait that long between 1983’s career breakthrough Pyromania and its much-delayed follow-up, ‘87’s Hysteria.
Of course, Leppard had their reasons -- none of them more traumatic than drummer Rick Allen’s losing his arm to a horrific car accident, on December 31, 1984, followed by his challenging but inspiring and triumphant, technology-assisted return to the drum stool.
The only upside to all this, if you can call it that, was that Allen’s tragedy paused the writing and recording of the band’s next album long enough for trusty producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange to recover from his self-diagnosed bout of ‘exhaustion’ and resume his place behind the console.
By the time sessions for Hysteria finally wrapped and ‘Mutt’ had spent three, arduous months mixing his masterpiece, the band was so deep in debt, nothing but a smash hit would possibly save their career, meaning it was paramount that Leppard’s new material make a great first impression.
Instead, that August, Mercury Records U.S. inexplicably chose the album’s catchy but far-from-automatic opening number, “Women,” as their all-important single, only to see its leaden tempo die a death at radio, its forgettable music video quickly sink out of MTV rotation, and its march up the charts screech to a halt at No. 80.
Panicked, by September the label had pivoted to the rest of the world’s safer selection, “Animal,” which fared much better (Top 20 in the U.S.) and paved the way for the song that would truly ignite Hysteria’s multi-platinum turbo jets, “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, few people were paying attention to this single’s B-side, “Tear it Down,” which gave some of Leppard’s older fans, still unsure about Hysteria’s slavish production polish, something grittier to sink their teeth into; it was later reworked with the full gloss treatment on 1992’s Adrenalize album.
By then, the band had broken their own record with a five-year wait between records and had also overcome another crippling blow in guitarist Steve Clark’s 1991 death from alcohol poisoning, but that’s another blog for another day.
More Def Leppard: The Def Leppard E.P., On Through the Night, High ‘n’ Dry, Pyromania, Too Late for Love EP, “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak,” Hysteria.
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Greatest First Lines of Song Lyrics
Most rock songs have two beginnings. After the kick-off, which is the intro, played on whichever instrument or instruments the band has at its hands, it is the moment when the artist starts telling their story. And the first line plays a very prominent role as the theme and introduction. Here are what I think are extraordinary examples, my top ten greatest first lines of song lyrics:
10) *Uriah Heep - Stealin’* “Take me across the water, ‘cause I need some place to hide ...”
9) *The Angels - Waiting for the World* “Bare-footed could-have-beens playing snakes and ladders climbing up the gravel walk ...”
8) *Rainbow - Death Alley Driver* “Rough and ready rider on a super-sonic sound machine ...”
7) *City Boy - New York Times* “Turning pages, glancing through the classified, the whole night sleep was in my eyes ...”
6) *Deep Purple - When a Blind Man Cries* “If you’re leavin’, close the door, I’m not expecting people anymore ...”
5) *Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell* “Sing me a song, you’re a singer ...”
4) *Styx - Renegade* “Oh Mama, I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law ...”
3) *Iron Maiden - Invaders* “Longboats have been sighted and the evidence of war has begun ...”
2) *Scorpions - In Trance* “I wake up in the morning and the sun begins to shine ...”
1) *Rush - Spirit of Radio* “Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive ...”
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