Def Leppard, Pyromania

This album didn't create hair metal (it's not even clear High 'n' Dry did that), but between the ballads and banging it sure made it work. Tossing their heavy metal roots in the bin, they channeled their inner Dokken and turned out an album that you'll dig every track on even if none of it burns, er, breaks any new ground. Choice moments: the as-you-see-it "Rock Rock (Till You Drop)," some actual albeit actually cheesy pathos in "Photograph" and power anthem "Foolin'." Oh, and don't forget Mutt Lange's mock German count-in to "Rock of Ages," the most relevant contribution a producer has ever made to any album. The 2009 reissue adds a 1983 show live set-list, though other than their cover of CCR's "Travelin' Band" die hard Leppardists won't find a lot there that's new. (Content: mild adult themes.)