Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Chris Rea - Deltics (1979)

  

Released July 1979

Running time 45:51

This was another culturally irrelevant, "as if punk never happened" out of time release from Chris Rea. An Elton John influence pervades the album and, although pleasant enough, suffers from a muffled, unclear, unremastered sound (you really have to turn it up to get any oomph). It made little impact, and the cover was awful. Just what are you wearing, Chris?

TRACK LISTING

1. Twisted Wheel
2. The Things Lovers Should Do
3. Dance! (Don't Think)
4. Raincoat And A Rose
5. Cenotaph/Letter From Amsterdam
6. Deltics
7. Diamonds
8. She Gave It Away
9. Don't Want Your Best Friend
10. No Qualifications
11. Seabird

As "Twisted Wheel"'s piano intro kicks in, and the Rea's vocal, you would be forgiven for thinking you were listening to Elton John. Everything about it screams Elton, particularly "Part Time Love". The album was produced by Gus Dudgeon who worked with Elton John in the seventies, so this influence is hardly surprising. By the way, is Rea referring to Manchester's legendary Northern Soul night club in the tile? Probably. "The Things That Lovers Should Do" has some of that laid-back bluesy feel and guitar that Rea would come to specialise in. It has hints of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel in it, particularly in its Spectoresque "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" drumbeat in places. "Dance! (Don't Think)" is another Elton-ish stomper with some vibrant backing vocals and impressive guitar.

"Raincoat And A Rose" is a pleasing slow number, while "Cenotaph/Letter From Amsterdam" is an instrumental interlude that merges into an Elton John meets Roger Daltrey solid, riffy rocker. "Deltics" is a brassy grinding rocker based around train travel (Deltics were a type of train engine). A bit of bluesy guitar creeps in, for the first time. "Diamonds" is very much of its era, late seventies, Elton John-style orchestrated pop/rock.

"She Gave It Away" is another one very much ploughing the same furrow, as indeed does "Don't Want Your Best Friend". "No Qualifications" slows down the pace on a saxophone-enhanced song about educational achievement, or lack of it. You could have predicted that the final number, "Seabird" would be a tender, acoustic ballad. It is a nice one, though.

So this was Chris Rea's "Elton John" album, conspicuous for its lack of blues influence and precious little of the great slide guitar he became famous for. It is certainly not a bad album but it is not essential in any way. It had no part to play in 1979's musical legacy, really.

C

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