Traditionally, ‘side project’ groups are rarely more than that; fun live, perhaps, but no one other than the musicians themselves actually cared for their albums. Latterly, however, helped by collaborations like Chickenfoot and Black Country Communion, that view has changed.
So where do Manraze – a three-piece partnership of ‘others’ comprising Paul Cook (former Sex Pistols drummer), Simon Laffy (former Girl bassist) and Phil Collen (lead guitarist and backing vocalist with Def Leppard) – fit in? Somewhere between the two, seems to be the answer, based on this their second album.
Fronted by Collen, Manraze purport to be something more than a rich man’s plaything, but it’s hard to see it as more than that when the material is rarely better than second-string. With the sound overly reliant on Leppard’s own trademark spangle, it’s difficult not to view material like the fizzing Over My Dead Body or the finely honed pop-rock of Bittersweet as songs that Leppard rejected.
The album title is also misleading. The punk influence is barely discernible, and sole reggae track Closer To Me is less Bob Marley, more the Police. Good not great.