Frontiers Music SRL (label)
26 January 2018 (released)
09 January 2018
Any self-aware rocker worth their salt should eventually find their way back to worshipping at the altar of blues. Besides the 'Ken Burns doc' historical context explanation about where the roots of modern rock were derived from, the blues still lives and breathes in every song it inspired. All the greats have always held the blues masters in the highest reverence. For an art form that by its very nature destroys and disavows the past in the name of the progressive future, rock n roll does still look fondly on its parent.
In the 80s, to the casual listener, Def Leppard could easily be seen as the antithesis of blues. Trading the ambling down south swing for the vastly simplified 1-2 punch of Rick Allen's drums. Instead of guitar phrases that dripped with the blood of struggle, lead guitarist Phil Collen's lines were jubilant, spastic expressions of success and excess in the big city. However, that seed of blues was still planted somewhere deep in Collen's playing and now he's paying homage to it with his project Delta Deep. Initially conceived with Debbi Blackwell-Cook, backup singer to some heavy hitters but a dynamo frontwoman in her own right, the project grew to include the deep-pocketed drumming of Forrest Robinson (TLC, India.Arie) and the pummelling groove of Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo. Their latest release East Coast Live showcases the group live and unhinged, all four players leaving it all on the stage. East Coast Live, unlike some other cut together or doctored live releases, makes you feel right in the dark sweaty room with them with all of Blackwell-Cook's in between song banter left intact so the album truly plays as one concert start to finish.
From a screaming dive bomb intro, Blackwell-Cook launches into an incendiary version of Led Zeppelin's 'Black Dog'. The band deftly handles the riff with Collen's guitar pinching a little more squeal out of it than Page. Blackwell-Cook takes Plant's arrhythmic phrases and gives them a sassy swing. In lieu of a guitar solo, she goes off with n epic display of her formidable vocal chops. 'Bang the Lid's Black Betty off-time hype and 'Miss Me's 80s rock flair keep the temperature rising.
'Burnt Sally/Rock Me' and 'Whiskey' take us back to more traditional fare. Debbi B-C picks a young man out of the crowd and makes him the focus of her bluesy voracious laments. 'Bless These Blues' is a ten-ton half-time stomper with Collen stepping in to belt out a verse or two. The lead single rips with a hearty guitar honk and a hard shuffling rhythm team.
East Coast Live rips with the fire of arena rock and swings with the soul of back porch blues. Each of the players is a dynamo in their own right and that makes for an electrifying evening of performance. Shake yourself up a cocktail, grab a table next to the stage and let Delta Deep get down into your soul.