Album Review — Down ‘N Outz

Down ‘N Outz — This Is How We Roll

Def Leppard has been pretty busy the last few years with all sorts of touring, but vocalist Joe Elliott found enough time to release another Down ‘N Outz album, “This is How We Roll”. The band includes musicians from other projects, most notably Share Ross of Vixen and Keith Weir from The Quireboys. This band is more of a reflection of what Elliott listened to growing up. Not a lot of Def Leppard sound here. It’s mostly 70s era British rock. This is the band’s third release, but unlike the first two, there’s only one cover song here.

First off, the production is top notch. When I say the album sounds like the 70s, I’m not speaking of the production quality. This is a great sounding record. But the feel of the record is very 70s. Lots of piano throughout these tracks without it being front and center. Elliott sounds great and truly at home on these songs.

“Another Man’s War” kicks off the record and it’s a great start. It’s upbeat with a driving piano and big vocals. I’m not as familiar with much of this era but it sounds like a cross of upbeat Elton John, Mott The Hoople and T-Rex.

“This is How We Roll” is the first single and has a very similar feel and sound to the first track. It’s upbeat and it probably sounds the closest to a Def Leppard song on the record.

“Goodnight Mr. Jones” starts with Elliott’s vocals over a simple piano. As the song progresses we get some orchestration and I’m reminded of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.

“Creatures” continues the very 70s sound not just musically but lyrically as well. It’s like Elliott has taken a time machine back 40+ years and captured the feel of the music scene. It doesn’t feel dated though, just like it belongs there.

“Last Man Standing” is one of my favorite tracks. Lots of piano here and I really like Elliott’s story here. The chorus almost sounds Yacht Rock-like but it works. Very cool track.

There are three short instrumentals scattered throughout that all hover around one minute. I’ve never been a big instrumental guy, especially these short interludes. It takes a 12 track album and brings it down to nine full tracks.

“Boys Don’t Cry” is a quality rocker is more driving piano behind the up front guitar sound. I do hear some Def Leppard sound here as well.

“Walking to Babylon” and “Let It Shine” almost feel like two parts to one song. They each clock in at around six minutes and have that epic feel to them. This would have been the place to end the record.

The only cover song, “White Punks on Dope” by The Tubes, is the last full track. I’m not familiar with the original but I can say I don’t really like the track.

Another short carnival sounding instrumental ends the record.

There’s a lot to like about this record. I enjoy all the original songs and there are some especially good tracks here. The production is top notch and Elliott and band sound great.

I have two concerns over the record. First, it could be pegged as an era-specific record. It sounds very 70s, and if that’s not your thing, this might not work for you. Although I’m not a huge fan of the era and I like the record, so maybe it’s not a big issue.

More problematic are the three short instrumentals and the cover song. The instrumentals don’t do a lot for me and of all the songs they could have covered, they picked one that I don’t think fits the feel of the record. It’s a bummer it ends the way it does.

That being said, I do like this record. There are some really great tracks here. Down the road it might be something that I need to be in the mood for but I’m ok with that. And I could even see this as being a gateway to some of the bands from the 70s that have influenced Elliott so much. I imagine Joe would be pretty satisfied if that’s the end result.

85 out of 100

Track Listing

Another Man’s War *
This Is How We Roll *
Goodnight Mr. Jones
Creatures
Last Man Standing *
Music Box
Boys Don’t Cry
Walking to Babylon *
Let It Shine *
Music Box Reprise/Griff’s Lament
White Punks on Dope
The Destruction of Hideous Objects Part 3

*Best Songs

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