Well, let me tell you what! I’ve got an unstoppable new rock album sitting in front of me by some unlikely suspects. I first heard the single, “Turn It Up” on Nights With Alice Cooper. This is where I also learned the band, oddly named Man Raze, was made up of Phil Collen of Def Leppard on guitar and lead vocal, Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols on drums, and Simon Laffy who was the bassist in Collen’s pre-Leppard band, Girl. Laffy also plays bass and co-writes songs with Phil Collen in Man Raze.The first thing I thought when I heard “Turn It Up” was, well, turn it up… and this is what I’d been wishing Def Leppard sounded more like these days. Who knew Phil Collen was this good a singer! Not to slag Def Leppard in any way because they’ve already proven they’re classic, but this punky, gritty, pumped-up anthem rocks like a band with something to prove. So I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the album and see if it could live up to the hype of the single.I soon got the chance as a copy of the CD made its way to my mailbox. The album is titled Surreal and it was released on VH1 Classic Records on June 3rd.
As you can see, the cover art leaves a little something to be desired, as it has an all-too-typical generic mysterious crop circle-like symbol with the word “SURREAL” capitalized in X-Filesy-looking characters in the center with a rusty redish brownish green hue. But get past the sub-par cover art (which doesn’t much matter on a CD, but sure would if it’s on vinyl), and you’ll be rewarded with some top-notch rock and roll from the instant you press play.“This is the age of experience” says the album’s opening lyric from “This Is,” and if experience is what these guys are showing off, then they’ve learned wisely from their experience. It sounds like they learned to forget everything else, and just come out rocking, with the spunk and the raw energy that they had when they first started playing live and making albums. Maybe it’s the experience that makes the songwriting so good. These guys even pull of some cool reggae-rock blend on “Runnin’ Me Up" and it works!Honestly, I can’t say enough about this album except go pick it up and find yourself blaring it out of your car stereo all summer long. This is fun straight-ahead rock and roll music, period. I’ll give you a YouTube taste right now of the stupid-hot single “Turn It Up” below. But if you’re listening at work, be warned, you will want to bang your head and you will not feel like being in your office any more. Rock!