"Surreal" (VH-1 Classics; 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

A number of years ago the pairing of Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen (also doing vocals here) and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook probably would have seemed unlikely or even unbelievable to fans of either band. However, it seems that once band members get to a certain age or a certain amount of years past their prime that any pairing or partnership is possible. 

Okay, so I am not sure my expectations were high and I really expected the bulk of the album to lean more towards Collenís background. Bassist Simon Laffy (formerly of glam band Girl) rounds the trio and I give the entire band credit for keeping the production below the grain and not letting the overall sound be too smooth. Right away that helps a little and the opening track, "This is," had me thinking that this project could be the real deal. However, reality began to set in a few tracks later and I just began hear too many tracks that sounded like Def Leftovers. 

Okay, "Surreal" doesn't have the exact same over-processed sound, but it was still a lot of the same rhythms and the standard format that Collen and that other band relied on between the late 80s and the early 90s. The rhythm section is a little more prominent here and they are reasonably solid enough (yet fairly standard) at times. 

In theory, I applaud any musician trying to do something different, but all too often they canít or donít want to get away from what they are comfortable with. I think thatís unfortunately what we get here on a number of tracks. There are a few highlights that are probably going to have some fans thinking itís for real, but I think the mediocre tracks are almost as plentiful as the real rockers on this release. 

Perhaps "Surreal" is a little more down to earth and a little less of the mindless party rock that Def Leppard churned out in spades at one point, but ultimately they play it a little too safe and the ending results are that itís just an okay album.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:47 -0400.