Phil Collen's Top 5 tracks from the Def Leppard album

Well, we say his ‘top five,’ naturally our man Phil can’t choose favourites. Like picking a favourite child (out of fourteen Leppard-shaped children, in this case), the guitarist is immensely proud of all the songs here. “We didn’t think we were going to do an album, we thought we’d do a single or an EP but it all flowed so easily that it turned into an LP,” he tells us over the phone from the US, where the band are currently mid-tour. “So I can’t really pick my five ‘favourites’. But I can tell you about some of the ones that I came up with the idea…”

1. Man Enough
“I had this bass riff floating around my head, and I wanted it to have a similar vibe to Billy Jean by Michael Jackson – almost a disco vibe. I didn’t know what it was going to be called, then I played it to Joe; we went to Rick Allen’s 50th birthday, and he said ‘shit! I’ve got a great idea for this song! And it’s called ‘Are You Man Enough To Be My Girl’. People have said it reminds them of Another One Bites The Dust by Queen. It has this dancey appeal. Our song* All Night* was a bit like that, and Excitable on Hysteria. But I think this is the first time we’ve really made it work. It just fell into place, and I think that’s because we didn’t restrict ourselves. Every song on the album’s like that. It was like ‘fuck everybody, this album was done for us.’ It wasn’t a business venture. We really didn’t care what anybody thought. We went to town on it; it was a lot of fun.”

2. Energized
“I wanted the song to be about…this is really weird, but it’s about the sexual urge – having this feeling, and what that does to a person. So it’s not really about a person or a situation, it’s about a biological event that we go through, which does sound weird I realise. But that really is what it’s about. I wanted it to have an almost Top 40 feel about it. So me and Ronan [McHugh, Leppard producer] demoed it in a day and then just added to it. It’s absolutely Def Leppard. I’ve recently released the album with Delta Deep, which is a bluesy, rock-soul thing; it wasn’t confined at all, and this was the same. I don’t think we’ve ever done an album like that. The Slang album was a bit like that, I loved the artistic expression on that one, but we didn’t go overboard on some of the production – we left the songs as they were. Whereas on this one we made them better. So this almost like Slang 2.0.”

3. Let’s Go
“The lead-off single, but it was actually one of the last tracks in the sessions. That was a Rick Savage song he’d had floating around for a while, but it was very pop-orientated. When we started recording, the guitars were a little lightweight. We decided they needed to be way more aggressive and nasty. So that was the second coat of paint, if you like – we replaced some of the stuff we’d done earlier and just made it way more violent and aggressive. And then we did that on the vocals. We went overboard. We thought ‘we’re gonna do what Queen do’; we always said the blueprint was going to be Queen and AC/DC, a cross between the two. I did the riffs pretty much how I did* Pour Some Sugar On Me*. It had a danger of sounding a bit boyband-y, which is why we brought that edge back. And it was wonderful doing this album in stages, so we could come back and revisit this stuff.”

4. Sea Of Love
“I wrote it and originally thought ‘this’ll be a great song for Delta Deep.’ I had this riff for a while, and when we started doing the Def Leppard stuff in February 2014, I just started demoing this song in Joe’s swimming pool – not in the water, but in that room. It had a Lenny Kravitz vibe to it, it was almost rock-soul and even lyrically it reminded me a bit of some Stevie Wonder stuff. I thought the guys were gonna hate it, but I showed it to them anyway. And they really liked it. So I thought ‘OK I guess it’s not going to be a Delta Deep song then!’ And then it took on a different life when Rick Allen started doing his drums – it ended up being a lot jazzier, it was almost a Hendrix-type thing. Joe sang it differently to how I did it, and me, Sav and Vivian got together to our choir-style vocals… It was a joy, it was such a thrill. This whole album’s been one of my favourite Def Leppard recordings – shocking, in a good way!”

**5. Broke ‘n’ Brokenhearted
**“Ronan was packing up all the stuff, and he was going to go home after five o’clock on a Friday… Me and Joe were sitting on the couch and he says ‘I’ve got this idea for this song,’ and he just started playing a couple of chords, and I say ‘I’ve got a chorus for that!’ We wrote it in about ten minutes. We’d never done that before. We said ‘Ronan, I don’t think you can go home yet’ and did a half-hour demo. Later when we came back after the Kiss tour, Jeni Cook [Paul Cook’s wife] she’s brilliant, she’s a raw food chef, came out and put everybody on a raw food diet. Everyone liked it, we all lost a load of weight – she’d got 100 lbs of Boy George before. Anyway she was with us in Dublin, we started recording this song and she came in and said ‘I thought that was the Sex Pistols’. We really wanted it to have that New York Dolls, Sex Pistols-y element to it, Mott The Hoople…all this stuff that me and Joe are huge fans of. So yeah, to hear her say that it was like ‘mission accomplished!’”

Def Leppard announce Classic Rock album Fanpack

Def Leppard’s new album is to be released as a Classic Rock Fanpack on October 30, four weeks before the regular CD is released. The Fanpack will include the CD (including an exclusive bonus track), a 116-page magazine featuring all-new interviews with all five band members, all-new photos and a track-by-track guide to the album, a series of collectable art cards, and a metal Def Leppard keyring. Pre-order now.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.