By Chyrisse Tabone, Tampa Correspondent
Being a long-time fan of 1920s and 1930s down-home blues and even the more recent 1960s blues-rock revival, I was definitely interested in previewing the new self-titled Delta Deep album. The first sample I heard was the online preview of “Bang the Lid” and boy, was I hooked! The clapping hands, rocking electric slide guitar, rollicking beat, and full-throated, womanly gospel voice, had me wanting to attend a tent revival! I had to find out more about this band, which is comprised of heavy-metal guitarist/vocalist Phil Collen (Def Leppard, Manraze), bassist Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots), drummer Forrest Robinson (India.Arie, Utaka Hikaru), and of course, vocal powerhouse Debbi Blackwell-Cook (Luther Vandross, Michael Buble).
After listening to the 11-track album, one cannot pigeonhole or define the style of Delta Deep because it consists of an eclectic mix of soul, retro R&B, hard rock and even jazz. Blackwell’s voice on “Whiskey” is as smooth and sultry as a bottle of fine-aged bourbon and compliments well with Collen’s jazzy riffs and Robinson’s syncopated jazz beats. Regarding Collen, I wondered, “Is this the same man who plays ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’?” Another original song “Treat Her Like Candy” could have been a 70s R&B song I would have listened to on “Soul Train” in my teen years. “Down in the Delta” has the flavor of hard rock in the vein of Heart or Led
Eight of the songs are original, composed by Phil and Helen Collen and Debbi Blackwell-Cook. Three of the cover songs “Mistreated” (Deep Purple), “Private Number” (Clay/Bell), and “Black Coffee” (Ike and Tina Turner) are very welcome additions. I was actually thrilled to see “Black Coffee” since nobody has really covered it since Steve Marriott (Humble Pie). Friends like David Coverdale (Whitesnake, Deep Purple), Simon Laffy (GIRL, Manraze), Paul Cook (Sex Pistols, Manraze), and CJ Vanston (Tina Turner, Joe Cocker) provided guest support for some songs.
Actually Collen’s splendid gravelly, Rod Stewart-ish voice complements Blackwell’s versatile pipes which are full of attitude like Tina Turner’s as well as edgy and raspy like Bette Lavette’s. Overall, Delta Deep has me excited and hopeful about the future of blues-rock again. Collen’s side-project, which is comprised of musicians from various backgrounds, appears to be rooted in musicians’ desire to collaborate and to fill their creative need outside of their now famous styles. Delta Deep is obviously a labor of love. A must-listen album!
Phil Collen: All guitars, lead vocals (Def Leppard, Manraze); Robert DeLeo: Bass guitars (Stone Temple Pilots); Forrest Robinson: Drums/percussion (Utaha Hikaru, India.Arie); Debbi Blackwell-Cook: Lead vocals (background singer with Luther Vandross, Michael Buble).
“Down in the Delta”
“Bang the Lid”
Sample Each Song on the Album
DELTA DEEP Tracklisting:
1. Bang The Lid
3. Down In The Delta
4. Treat Her Like Candy
5. Miss Me
6. Burnt Sally
7. Private Number
8. Shuffle Sweet
9. Black Coffee