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Delta 72: The Soul of a New Machine  E-mail
Rhythm Blues & Soul
Tuesday, 24 January 2006 02:01
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Delta 72
The Soul of a New Machine
Touch & Go Records

By John Sinclair

It is a hell of an undertaking to which the band called Delta 72 has committed itself: bringing the roll & soul of classic rhythm & blues back into modern rock, including the intense performance esthetic and direct emotional connection with its listeners and dancers that are essential elements of this incredibly vibrant African-American art form.

Not that Delta 72 is some kind of Blues Brothers act for the end of the century, slavishly aping the heroic soul singers and their elaborate backing bands in the sort of post-modern minstrel show now popular in places like the House of Blues and mainstream campus bars.

No, it's not like that at all: the stripped-down rock & roll ensemble called Delta 72 is instead engaged in a serious struggle to make a singular form of musical expression inspired as much by the rhythms & blues that gave birth to the modern idiom as by the popular music they hear around them today.

Delta 72 incorporates all kinds of hip things from the R&B esthetic, from the harmonica and Farfisa organ always prominently featured to great swinging grooves and well-controlled dynamics. Yet they never sound less than completely contemporary, and they can slash and burn with full rock intensity when they want to.

For 25 years now, rock--or popular music made by white people--has suffered from being severed from its African American roots. The rock & roll music from the 50s and 60s that people still listen to was entirely rooted in rhythm & blues--it rocked, it rolled, it was full of life and intelligence and wit, it made you feel like shaking your ass at somebody while the music danced inside your body and your brain.

Then Black music was programmed out of rock radio, and successive waves of white musicians and listeners were denied any communion with the original energy source which had in fact once fully shaped their world. Their music paled, and the roll was removed when they shrunk the music down to rock,  pile-driving that one rhythm forward and refusing to switch from side to side.

Even the inevitable reaction to the awful lameness of rock had no connection to the Black roots of popular music, and all the rebels really could do was deconstruct the forms and gestures of rock into something truer and uglier--and even less swinging--than what they had been given.

There is something beautiful about music that swings which can t be found anywhere else in life. Swing brings joy and good feelings and the hope that things might get better after awhile--and even if they don t, we re having a pretty fine time right now while the music is playing.

Swing is a measure of the resilience and determination to overcome great difficulties which lives at the heart of African-American popular music, the thing that keeps people's humanity intact and their hearts and minds functioning in the face of all the shit they re up against in this life.

Swing can carry you through the shit and raise you up above it, whether it comes to you as jazz or blues or gospel, R&B or reggae or soul. Swing has this function, and now that it's been gone from popular music for so long, the music doesn t do those things for people any more.

Delta 72 would like to turn that around and make their music mean something to the people who hear it. They want you to be dancing while you listen--indeed, they want to move you, physically and emotionally, they want to connect you to the source and the force that powers their music and their life on stage. And they want you to thrill to it every bit as much as they do.

In its several years of touring the low dives and alterna-joints of this unattractive nation, through several changes in membership and a series of well-received recordings, Delta 72 has evolved a distinctive musical synthesis and found its own voice in the American wilderness.

This voice is calling you now: Come out from behind your television sets, your computers, out of your little lacklove cubicles. Come out and dance. Take a little swing with us. Let's have a natural ball while we re still breathing. It's the least we can do.

Let's put a soul into this new machine and enjoy the membership of R&B.  That's the promise of Delta 72, and they deliver on it here.

--New Orleans
April 13, 1997

(c) 1997, 2006 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

Greg Foreman, guitar, lead vocals, harmonica
Sarah Stolfa (Farfisa organ)
Brue Reckahn, bass
Jason Kourkounis, drums

1 Introduction (Part 2) (1:59)
2 Monopoly of Your Mouth (2:37)
3 Floorboard Shake (3:21)
4 The Cut (2:07)
5 I ve Dreamt of Leaving.... (5:16)
6 It's Alright (3:53)
7 Scratch (4:24)
8 Up in the High Numbers (2:12)
9 Blowout (2:25)
10 Go Go Kitty (2:07)
11 We Hate the Blues (3:16)
12 Green Eyes (5:35)