Collen, Phil (w. Epting, Chris)
Adrenalized:Life, Def Leppard and Beyond (Book review)
Released: 2015, Atria Books
It had struck me a slightly odd that not a single member from Def Leppard, one of the world’s biggest Rock bands, had written a book. When it happened I sort of assumed it would be Joe Elliot who would be first, but as it stands, guitarist, Phil Collen is first with the publication of ADRENALIZED.
ADREANLIZED:LIFE, DEF LEPPARD AND BEYOND is your standard rock autobiography hard cover, average length, with some nice photos on glossy colour plates in the middle. Phil is looking good having been on a health kick for a good chunk of his life!
Collen shares his life story at a leisurely pace, it’s fun and very readable. Coming from a working class but stable and loving family he explains his growth and development from young boy into man, with surprisingly little drama. He did have his adventures but seemed to get past his drugs and alcohol phase relatively unscathed. The parts about his time in GIRL and doing club dates in London seemed exciting with lots of stories of those exciting times.
Phil, like many 80’s rock stars seems a bit at a loss as to the dramatic fall in fortune in the 90’s, while to rest of us, it is painfully evident that they dramatically changed their sound to their own detriment. He doesn’t spend too much time defending the ten year span 1996-2006 of the horrible, poorly selling string of albums (SLANG, EUPHORIA, X) and in fact most of his focus, in terms of music is on the ‘glory years’. It never ceases to amaze me how many artists can't comprehend that when they dramatically change their style, people lose interest and the band resorts to blaming everyone else (fans, managers, lawyers, record industry, other musical trends) for their own failure.
As the band gets mired in almost two decades of poorly received albums, he switches gears and talk much more about his personal life, friends, family and less and less about Def Leppard. The result is that the book has a bit if schizophrenic nature, part story of Def Leppard part memoir. Collen struggles with fidelity and talks, but not in too much detail, about his several failed long-term relationships and marriages due to his dalliances. Aside from that there really is not too much ‘dirt’ per se as he seems to have retained his working class sensibilities. He talks about his other project Manraze which went virtually unnoticed and it really hit home how…’un-Metal’ Collen and Def Leppard really were. That is not a criticism, but they really were a separate class of musical act, comfortably taking the role as England’s Bon Jovi, a former Hard Rock Metal band now virtually indestructible.
ADRENALIZED ends with an extended commentary from Collen about his personal philosophy which comes across as a being a bit of a hippy but that is certainly not unexpected considering his formative years in the sixties. I was very charmed and really enjoy the pleasant tone of his tale, despite it being a bit unadventurous and by the numbers autobiography. Die-hard Def Leppard fans can crank up my rating a notch!