Sunday, November 04, 2007

Heaven Is Delta Blue On Stage

HEAVEN (Rhythm Records, 2005)

These guys have come a long way since their debut, recorded live in Stellenbosch. Then they were enthusiastic, naive about the blues and too gauche to be believed. I thought this would be the last we'd ever hear from them. It was not to be: Inbluesstation was in my estimation easily the best local rock (I use the category loosely here) album of 2003. The album had good songs that were played with passion and commitment and savvy. Various South African acts are regularly referred to as being world class and Delta Blue undoubtedly numbers among them. They are that good.

Okay, after the studio triumph of Inbluesstaion the guys regrouped and decided that another live album would be just the ticket to the next station. This time they have a bunch of their own songs to do alongside the standards, they have Henry Steele on guitar and they have the confidence and mastery of veterans.

All of the songs, except for a new stab at 'Hoochie Coochie Man' (from the debut album) and 'Troublesome' (from Inbluesstation), are previously unreleased; some covers, some original. It is a pity that they still insist on playing blues covers when their own songs are so much better and it is still true that Gerard Clark is much better at soul rock ballads than at blues.

The final track (which sounds like something from the studio), 'Ain't Going To Heaven', is a stone classic and it is almost unbelievably excellent and pleasurable, and once again goes to show that you can't beat a good tune and interesting lyrics. 'Troublesome' emphasises again what a great soul rock album Inbluesstation is.

Delta Blue are going from strength to strength and I cannot wait for the next studio album. Maybe they can completely leave behind doing versions of other people's tunes. Perhaps they should recognise that the world does not truly need another blues band but that it does need Delta Blue to do what it does best – putting their soul into our consciousness.

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