Delta Deep: Delta Deep (Mailboat Records)
Phil Collen of Def Leppard has had a glut of other bands that he has played in outside of the Leppard mothership first was glam metal band Girl (that was actually his band pre Leppard) and then came alt-rock band Manraze, however his latest project is perhaps his most adventurous. Teaming up with Debbi Blackwell-Cook (his wife's godmother) he began riffing on some old blues, soul and Mowtown songs that quickly developed into this album they recruited heavy metal drummer Forrest Robinson and Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo. The album is made up of 11 tracks of foot stomping, soul affirming blues music that Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and B.B King played back in the day but also with a snap of rockier Zep, early Whitesnake and even Joey Bones especially on the thunderous title track. Match this kind of searing blues rock with Blackwell-Cook's amazing gospel blues vocals that echo Chaka Khan or even Aretha in her heyday. She croons on the barroom lament of Whiskey which is a smoky tune with a scorching guitar solo that is in direct opposition to it's predecessor Bang The Lid which is a riotous hand clapping shout along. The rhythm section is rock solid forming the backbone of every song and allowing Collen's guitar playing to show a new level dexterity and also freeness allowing him t just as well as roughing things up with his Rod Stewartesque vocals on Treat Her Like Candy and Miss Me.
This is authentic blues done with reverence, Burnt Sally has the swinging 12 bar riff we all know and love with Blackwell-Cook hollering over the top of it as Collen once again soloing for his life, they throw in a few covers in the shape of Private Number originally by Judy Clay and William Bell, but here performed by Debbi Blackwell-Cook and David Coverdale. Phil tackles Steve Marriot, screaming his lungs out on Humble Pie's Black Coffee backed by his Manraze band mates Paul Cook and Simon Laffy, the final part of the trio of covers is a Mistreated by Deep Purple with vocals from Leppards Joe Elliot who impresses (although surely Coverdale would have been better as he sang the original). With this trio of songs you can get a feeling of what Delta Deep are all about with their own songs echoing this amalgamation of blues, rock and soul and doing them very well indeed. This album isn't as aggressive as his early work and won't be as stratospheric as his day job but it is an album of quality blues rock, well done Mr Collen. 8/10
The Jokers; Hurricane (SPV)
Three albums into their career and surely it's time for The Jokers to be more widely recognised than they currently are. They have been playing their brand of rhythm heavy, classic hard rock that encompasses elements of swaggering blues rock ala the Stones and Free, the stomping glam of T-Rex and Slade all wrapped up in the thumping rock and roll of The Who and Zep, since 2006 and they haven't missed a beat, both of their previous albums were excellent so hopefully with another classic they can finally break that glass ceiling and show the world how they rock. Moving back to the album and the influences, Hurricane starts off with Run For Cover which is like an amalgamation of Free, Whitesnake and The Who with an acoustic bottom line, a slinking chorus and some keys ala Baba O'Reilly. The Jokers move through the the title track with the speed and power of it's meteorological namesake then we get the funky Her World Is Love which is powered by Phil's chunky bass playing and has an air of The Purple One about it. The band are all excellent musicians Dan Evans' smashes his kit to bits on the rocking tracks but can also add a bit of percussive magic on She's On Fire and the acoustic fireside folk of Summer Time (which would sound at home on Zeppelin III), Phil Hartley's bass is most definitely the anchor of the band having the drive to power through the big ballsy riffs and adding the funk as I mentioned previously.
Paul Hurst's guitar playing is part Angus Young, part Paul Kossoff bluesy, ballsy and full of fire, he is just as happy riffing as he is pulling out a passionate fret melting solo, he does both on Angel which is most definitely his showcase. Vocalist Wane Findlay is superb he sounds a lot like Glen Hughes vocally and delivers the songs with the skill of an old hand knowing when to blast and when to croon. AC/DC rears it's head again on the Lockdown which has the prototypical Acca Dacca riff but played with their own style too. This album has peaks and troughs as any good album should the faster songs are balanced out by slower more melodic numbers but Dream is a hell of a ballad that could have come from an Alter Bridge album as it has equal amounts of force and tenderness, that is followed by the one two of the fuzzing first single Silver City which is a bit ZZ Top for it's money, in a good way of course and the Glam rock filled Everywhere I Go and the finale of Rockerman which chugs along with it's talk box guitar keeping it different. So have The Jokers done enough to warrant your attention this time? To right they have! With three great albums to their name (including this one) the band are on the upward trajectory, jump on board for the ride! 8/10
Speedtrap: Straight Shooter (Svart Records)
Bullet belts at the ready for Speedtrap who were formed by former Ranger guitarist Jaakko Hietakangas who hasn't really changed tack with Speedtrap who do exactly what it says on the tin lightning guitar playing, tick-tock drumming and fingernails on a chalkboard vocals. These 8 songs soar past in a flash of guitar fireworks and blistering speed metal, it's not big or clever but Speedtrap take you back to the halcyon days of Shrapnel records, when Exciter, Agent Steel, Mercyful Fate and Overkill ruled the club scenes getting the people metal thrashing mad with their twin axe attacks and blast beat drumming, the Overkill influence is at it's most obvious with vocalist Jori Sara-aoh, who sounds a lot like Bobby Blitz with his screech. Straight Shooter is and album that just builds and builds with every song more of race between the guitarists to see who can finish the song first but this is a benefit to the bands sound, a bit of speed metal mastery is never a bad thing in my book and Speedtrap go hell for leather. 7/10