RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Delta Deep - Delta Deep
Mailboat Records

Rating: A

Phil Collen is that cool looking, guitar playing, blond haired, fair-skinned white boy that came on the scene with the band Girl and then joined Def Leppard just in time for a little album titled Hysteria that went on to sell something like a bazillion albums.

He is known for his technical abilities on the six-string, having a cool kinda technical studio style, his massive ability to party in the 1980s and for being able to kick yer ass with his martial arts skills.  One thing Phil has never been accused of, however, is being a bluesman.  No, Phil Collen is more likely to be confused with Phil Collins than he is for his guitar style being mistaken for Muddy Waters!

Phil Collen is thought of as both a new wave dude and a punker due to his love of the band The Police and his other side project Manraze... but as a Delta bluesman?  Never. Other than Johnny Winter, pale white guys and the blues just don't seem to go together!

Against the odds (like that Phil Collins song title... oh I slay myself sometimes), and out of nowhere, Phil, Collen that is, the Def Lep guy, has released a blues album under the moniker Delta Deep... and it's damn good! 

This British guy understands the music, and he has released an album that mixes emotional vocals (courtesy of Debbi Blackwell-Cook) with, at times, heavy and distorted early '70s rock guitar.  Other times, the blues is completely pure, and truth be told, that's when it may be the best, as Blackwell-Cook is an amazing vocalist. 

Joining the pair on the self-titled album are Forrest Robinson (drummer for India.Arie, Joe Sample & The Crusaders, TLC), and Robert DeLeo (bassist for Stone Temple Pilots).  This band cooks it up hot and serves it out soulful.  This album sees Phil add ‘certified blues player’ to his already impressive résumé.  This is a band that should be heard live, so let's hope Def Lep can stop earning money long enough for Collen to spend some of that touring money on this band!

Even if Delta Deep never gets a tour, this album is totally worth buying.  In addition to the great singing and musicianship by those in the band, Collen has brought in several of his famous friends for a little help.   "Private Number" is sung with David Coverdale, whose voice matches this genre perfectly!  Elsewhere Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols and Simon Laffy from Phil's band Girl are the rhythm section on a gritty remake of the classic song "Black Coffee."  Both men, along with Phil, make up the band Manraze, but this number shows a totally new side to their musical persona.  Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott impresses on the song "Mistreated," one of the best songs on the album.  The best tune, however, is done by the band and is titled "Bang the Lid."  

Delta Deep was born in 2012 when Collen was jamming in his home studio with Debbi, who is the Godmother of Phil's wife, Helen.  Her vocals got into his soul immediately. 

Phil admits, "When I hear Debbi sing, I can hear the pain. She's an incredibly beautiful 62-year-old black woman who has been through things and she can sing through her pain. Not everyone can do that and not everyone sounds like Debbi."

This one is a winner from start to finish and should be filed under the "Listen to It Loud & Often" section!

Bang The Lid

Down In The Delta
Treat Her Like Candy
Miss Me
Burnt Sally
Private Number
Shuffle Sweet
Black Coffee
Feel it

By Jeb Wright