Phil Collen’s first priority will always be Def Leppard. After all, that band has been his bread and butter for more than two decades now. Of course, many famous musicians have outside interests other than their day jobs. Like the rest of us, these musicians have hobbies, or “side projects” that can often produce great things.
A million years ago, Phil Collen and
bass player Simon Laffy
played together in the band Girl. Look to the side bar of my archive articles
and you’ll find a series called “A Week of Girl.”
Girl is one of my favorite bands. It was fronted by a pre-L.A. Guns Phil Lewis. Anyway, Girl disbanded, Phil Collen joined Def Leppard and that was that. Now, Collen and Laffy are back together – and joined by Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook.
The trio call themselves Man Raze. The band has been around a few years now, but just recently released their debut called Surreal (VH1 Classic Records). In a lot of ways, Man Raze is like Girl for the new millennium. If you’ve ever listened to Girl, you know the band liked to experiment with different sounds, jumping from heavier Metal to reggae-influenced tunes. This holds true on Surreal. Here is the track list:
This Is It
Turn It Up
Runnin' Me Up
Every Second Of Every Day
Spinning It Out
Can't Find My Own Way
Connected To You
There is a lot of greatness here.
“Every Second of Every Day” is a strong track and it sounds like it belongs on
the radio. The same is true of "Connected to You," "Shadow Man" and "Turn It Up."
Perhaps most invigorating here is the affirmation that Collen can sing. I mean, really, really sing. Remember my most recent Def Leppard concert review? I said Collen should help Joe Elliott more with the vocal duties. Now that I hear Collen sing in Man Raze, I’m thinking he should just become a vocalist period. This isn’t to say he isn’t a great guitarist – but I have to admit I’m floored at the quality of his voice.
It’s easy to listen to Surreal and forget it’s not a Def Lep release. I suppose this is why the album title is so genius. The trio surely knew what they were doing here. It’s obvious for critics – and fans – to draw comparisons to Girl and Def Leppard. We just have to be fair about it all.
Surreal is a strong release that
stands completely on its own merits. In fact, I can a lot of people who
don’t like Def Leppard actually digging Man Raze. Remember, Surreal isn’t a wholly Glam release. There are mixed
elements here. The listener must have an open mind and give it a chance. If you
do give Surreal a chance, I predict you will like what you hear.
Support the band. Buy the disc. I know it’s available on Amazon.com and I bet you can get it a local music shop, too.