Def Leppard's exuberant 1980 debut, On Through The Night, showed great promise and yielded unexpected UK Top 20 success, but its accomplished 1981 follow-up, High 'n' Dry, banished any lingering doubts that these resilient Yorkshiremen were in it for the long haul. It found the quintet turning to a new producer, South African-born Robert John "Mutt" Lange, whose credits included The Boomtown Rats, The Motors and AC/DC's influential, multi-platinum-selling Back In Black. Known for his meticulous approach to his craft, Lange's input would have a significant effect on the course of Def Leppard's career.
High 'n' Dry proved to be the record where Def Leppard's distinctive, arena-slaying sound first materialized. Their new-found confidence and verve was apparent, whether they were piling into high-octane anthems ("Let It Go," "You Got Me Runnin'," "On Through The Night") or mastering complex set-pieces such as the edgy "Another Hit And Run" and the beautifully crafted, widescreen ballad "Bringin' On The Heartbreak," which segued into an ambitious "Layla"-esque instrumental coda, "Switch 625."
Housed in an enigmatic sleeve designed by Hipgnosis artist Storm Thorgerson, High 'n' Dry again broached the UK Top 30, but the care and attention Lange and the band lavished on "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" also rewarded them with their first taste of mass appeal in the US. The album subsequently peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard 200, offering Def Leppard a glimpse of the sustained mainstream success they would experience with 1983's diamond-selling Pyromania.
"Making [High'n'Dry] was an enormous learning curve, but it sounded punchy and professional and, generally speaking, it was the start of where we wanted to go," Elliott told Blabbermouth. "We were open-minded and so happy to be working with a producer like Mutt Lange. By the time we started doing Pyromania a year later, what we'd gone through recording High 'n' Dry had sunk in and we'd realised it was worth all the effort."