Album Review: The Down ‘n’ Outz – “This Is How We Roll”
Formed just under a decade ago by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and the Quireboys trio of Guy Griffin, Paul Guerin and Keith Weir (plus ex-QB’s drummer Phil Martini), the Down ‘n’ Outz were originally set up as a Mott the Hoople tribute band, with their first two albums consisting of Mott and Ian Hunter cover versions.
For their third effort though (and now augmented by ex-Vixen/Bubble/Dogs D’Amour and current Twin Flames Radio bassist Share Ross), the group have decided to put out a collection of originals, and my initial thought was that it’d be interesting to see how well this band can fly under their own energy. Elliott has always come across as a guy who knows his onions when it comes to good 70s glam rock music (take a listen to his weekly radio show, or to the Leps’ excellent covers album Yeah! from back in the day) and hearing his take on some original songs in this vein definitely piqued my interest.
The surprise is that when opener Another Man’s War kicks in, it’s actually closest to the Who of all people with the Won’t Get Fooled Again style intro, but it kicks this one off to a good start and the storming title track keeps the momentum going nicely. The quite lovely Goodnight Mr Jones is a big epic heartfelt ballad tribute to David Bowie, and you may find yourself with something in your eye during this one. Creatures has more of an idiosyncratic feel to it (think Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride given a bit of a glitter-heavy makeover from Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel). Last Man Standing is a piano-led tribute to fallen comrades with lush strings added on, similar to Mott’s Sea Diver and sounds great.
Boys Don’t Cry isn’t a Cure cover, but rather a big Slade style bovver boots stomper which, in days of old, would be the song kicking side two off with a vengeance. Walking To Babylon is a big widescreen piano-led epic in a similar vein to Mott’s Ballad of Mott The Hoople or Bowie’s Drive-In Saturday while Let It Shine is a 70s Elton John slowie given a dose of adrenaline to create something pretty damn good. The group sign off with a rollicking cover of the Tubes’ White Punks On Dope, and ironically it’s this one which sees them come the closest to sounding like straight up Mott the Hoople.
This Is How We Roll shamelessly harks back to the 70s when rock stars were rock stars, beings who felt as if they’d beamed down from another galaxy, rather than just everyday blokes in jeans and trainers, and it’s this which elevates it above a good 95% of the albums I’ve heard in 2019. Shamelessly showy but with great tunes, killer hooks and excellent production, this really is fantastic. Essential listening.
How good is this album? Put it this way, if it was a Quireboys album I'd be calling it their best since Homewreckers and Heartbreakers at least, and if it was a Leps album I'd probably be calling it their best since Pyromania. Big, brash and epic the way all the best big 70s glam rock albums were, this is proof positive that far from just a knockabout side covers project, the Down 'n' Outz are a bloody good band in their own right. Give this a spin ASAP if you need something to lift your spirits.