"Really, really cool... his guitar style is so unique and he really didn't let us down”: Def Leppard’s Phil Collen on their collab with Tom Morello

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen has been talking about his group’s new single Just Like 73 and its guest feature Tom Morello, who contributes a suitably sparkly solo.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Collen spoke about how the collab first came about. "Well, Tom heard my original demo of the song with just me on it, and maybe Joe (Elliot) doing a vocal. 

"And he's, like, 'Oh my God, this is great.' So he told our friend Brian Monaco, who is actually president of Sony Music, and Brian's, like, 'What do you think about Tom being on it? He loves this thing.' And it was, like, 'Yeah, that'd be awesome.'"

Just Like 73 (Tom Morello Version) - YouTube Just Like 73 (Tom Morello Version) - YouTube
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"You know, I love Rage Against The Machine. I think Tom's really, really cool and his guitar style is so unique and he really didn't let us down. I remember talking to him about it. He said, 'Well, what do you hear?' and I said, 'Well, you gotta do your Tom Morello thing.' And he did. (I) heard it back and said, 'This is absolutely perfect.'

Just Like 73, which comes out on vinyl in August, is another of Leppard’s paeans to the glam rock era complete with stomping Glitter Band-style drums, Slade-like backing vocals and a Morello solo that’s both recognisably him but also fits perfectly with the glam-influenced song.

Collen admitted in the interview that the song was a leftover from the sessions for their 2022 album Diamond Star Halos (its title itself a pinch from glam icon Marc Bolan). “We only finished it off this year with everyone playing and singing on it. So, yeah, it was like almost there but not quite for that album.”

Def Leppard - Behind The Song 'Just Like 73' - YouTube Def Leppard - Behind The Song 'Just Like 73' - YouTube
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The guitarist also confirmed that the band were working on new songs. “Without a doubt. (Joe and I) write all the time. We send each other things. Sav (Rick Savage, bassist) gets in on there. Just between the three of us, there's just a lot of stuff floating around already. So we've, yeah, got a bunch of stuff. It's really exciting. And it's a great place to be. It's never that thing where, 'Well, we've got to sit down and write an album.' It's, like, 'Wow, I can't wait to play this to the guys and see what the reaction is.' And we keep pushing the boat out even further."

He added that any album would be unlikely to appear this year. "This year would be pushing it...But once we kind of get into the groove, I think - yeah. Who knows? Next year (or) early the year after. But you know how these things go.”

The band are currently on a US tour with Journey that continues through to September 8.

Will Simpson
News and features writer

Will Simpson is a freelance music expert whose work has appeared in Classic Rock, Classic Pop, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazine. He is the author of 'Freedom Through Football: Inside Britain's Most Intrepid Sports Club' and his second book 'An American Cricket Odyssey' is due out in 2025