Music review: Down ’n’ Outz – ‘This Is How We Roll’

With Def Leppard’s 2019 tour completed, now comes the announcement that the British icons will be joining fellow rockers Mötley Crüe and Poison for a stadium tour in 2020.

Additionally, Def Leppard fans have another reason to be excited. Frontman Joe Elliott’s side project has just released a new album. Originally formed as a tribute to the influence of Mott the Hoople, Down ’n’ Outz delivers a generous helping of classic rock straight out of the 1970s with “This Is How We Roll.”

It’s the band’s third album and features Elliott on vocals, Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin (Quireboys) on guitars, Share Ross (Vixen) on bass, Phil Martini (Wayward Sons) on drums and Keith Weir (Quireboys) on keyboards.

The new album was recorded over a five-year period and contains 11 new arrangements penned by Elliott and one cover track.

The album opener, “Another Man’s War,” loads up the ammo and pounds out a piano and guitar aural assault that draws influence from Ian Hunter’s “England Rocks” from 1977.

The title track is a straightforward rocker that salutes the band’s lifestyle as it carries a Humble Pie vibe with a gang of guitars keeping pace with Elliott’s spirited vocals as he declares, “If you wanna play/You gotta pay the toll.”

Elliott crafts a touching tribute to David Bowie with “Goodnight Mr. Jones.” While Bowie may be gone, Elliott demonstrates Bowie’s influence on his career with a number that has the comforting feel of Bowie’s “Life on Mars” and features a beautiful guitar solo by Guerin.

The 60-year-old Elliott sounds as good today as he did back in 1983, belting out rock anthems like “Photograph,” “Foolin’” and “Rock of Ages” from Def Leppard’s “Pyromania.”

Elliott offers a strong performance on “Last Man Standing.” Filled with piano, lush harmonies and light orchestration, the tune speaks about coming to terms with our mortality and the continuous search for a meaningful existence.

Other highlights include the reflective “Walking to Babylon,” the whimsical “Creatures” and a muscular cover of the Tubes’ “White Punks on Dope.”

With the majority of the album possessing influences from a variety of artists, “Boys Don’t Cry” is a rousing number that channels the rock attitude of Def Leppard as Elliott sings, “You’ve got to live your life like it’s the last day on earth.”

“This Is How We Roll” is proof that after 40-plus years of dishing out solid rock music, Elliott is anything but down and out.

Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at clinton43@me.com.

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