Delta Deep is the new rock and blues supergroup formed by Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and consisting of Stone Temple Pilots bassist Rob DeLeo, former TLC drummer Forrest Robinson and soul vocal powerhouse Debbi Blackwell-Cooke. The band definitely has the rock and blues pedigree, but do they have the chops for this completely different sound? The answer is an unequivocal “of course”.
Most indie fans will be familiar with Phil Collen who, though he is most well-known for Def Leppard, is regarded on his own as one of the best rock guitarists on the planet. Of course who can forget Rob DeLeo’s basslines from Stone Temple Pilots, which made the ultra-popular 90s band stand out and have a complexity and depth that may have otherwise have got the band lost in the miasma of grunge. Forrest Robinson has definitely made his mark on both rock and pop over the years, but Debbi Blackwell-Cooke may not be as familiar to indie fans. She definitely should be, however.
After singing backup with acts like Luther VanDross, Michael Buble and the late great Gregory Hines, Blackwell-Cooke is finally getting her due as lead vocalist with Delta Deep, and thanks goodness Collen and DeLeo pushed her to the front. This vocal powerhouse not only carries the new band’s sophomore album East Coast Live due out on January 28 and its first single/lyric video “Bless These Blues”, she takes the whole thing to a huge new level and, with Collen’s hard rock guitar work, destroys any preconceptions about what can be done in either genre.
“Bless These Blues” starts out a sort of simmering blues number, with what seems like a standard blues guitar riff except for the fact that Collen’s PC-1 is most definitely tuned to rock. He opens the tune vocally as well but soon hands it to Blackwell-Cooke, whose voice is nothing short of bombastic all the way through. Surprisingly, some of the best parts of the song are where Collen and Blackwell-Cooke have duets. Though their vocal styles are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum and, let’s face it, Blackwell-Cooke could smoke Collen vocally whenever she chooses, they come together in a way that only real musical pros ca pull off.
The same can be said for the music in the track, which once again meets at the perfect crossroads between blues and hard rock with Collen’s guitar taking off in a massive rock solo while the rest of the band expertly supports him with blues timing. It’s a tricky thing to pull off right through the end of the track but if anyone can, it’s these four.
It was infinitely smart for Delta Deep to release their second album as a live set so that fans can really see how well this foursome gel in live shows. With blues and rock, after all, the proof is always in the live shows, and onstage is where both Collen and Blackwell-Cooke will always shine. From the opening of Zepplin’s “Black Dog” to The portends is more than good for this new supergroup on their first full album, and hopefully they will follow East Coast Live up with another studio album.