Hysteria was (and still is) the ultimate modern people-friendly hard-rock album that Steve and co. sweated blood over to achieve what they had always hoped and dreamed of from the beginning. It’s unique because to this day there is no other hard rock record that sounds anything like it. It is a stand-alone record of it’s own kind that doesn’t really compare to anything else. It was released in 1987 after being pieced together using the latest studio equipment and technical gadgets around at the time in the mid 1980’s. To this day it still sounds state-of-the-art.
Whether you like it or not, it is a modern musical masterpiece.
The structure, composition and arrangement of the music is entirely different to any other rock album I know of and this I believe, is primarily down to the musical genius of Steve Clark and Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange. When you listen to the songs, it’s wonderful to try and pick out all the different guitar parts each time you listen. When Steve was asked once what the band’s approach to this album was musically, he replied with: “We approach things more like a classical orchestra…”
Another question that is often asked by people is “How do you get the Hysteria album sound?” A lot of guitar players and musical people in general are often curious to know what type of guitars were used, effects, amps etc. This is a question which is near impossible to answer because of the fact that, in the studio the band used many different instruments, gadgets, effects and amps to get certain sounds for certain bits of certain songs. As well as the way certain guitar chords and notes were recorded, layered and overdubbed.
Other equipment and gear used for recording the Hysteria album consists of the studio equipment, mixing desks etc., Gallien-Kruger speaker cabinets and amplifiers, Simmons electronic drum kits, Roland and Moog equipment, a range of guitars from Gibson, Ibanez, Hamer and Fender. Of the Fenders both Stratocasters and Telecasters were used. Some of these guitars were fitted with Kahler tremolo systems. Mike also described in his book how he would be kept very busy at the studio as Mutt Lange would request various different changes of strings and changes of pick-ups, several times a day to trial a range of sounds and tones!
I have noted in some Ross Halfin photos taken at Wisseloord Studios, that the band had many different amps at their disposal, including Marshall, Fender, VOX, possibly a Boogie and possibly others.
An EBow was also used for specific parts of the Hysteria album, most notably on Steve’s intro to Gods of War.
Trying to achieve the Hysteria album sound is certainly not the easiest thing to do for obvious reasons, but there are ways to get your guitar sounding quite close.
Special thanks to Una Williams and Mike Rogers for the kind permission to use the photographs above. Hysteria album artwork by Andie Airfix