Indeed, whatever happened to Benny Santini? The name that Magnet Records were considering using for their new solo signing but instead he went with his real name of Chris Rea, and Deltics was his second album after Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? and his first to reach the charts, althoug it didn't make much of an impact, only peaking at number 54 in the spring of 1979 -- not the best time for an introspective singer/songwriter to crash the charts. Named after the British Rail class 55 of diesel locomotive trains that were built in the early '60s and were just about to be withdrawn from service, Rea showed his interest in various forms of transport that would continue throughout his recording career. He took a leaf out of the Elton John songbook with the opening track "Twisted Wheel" which has a thumping piano running throughout and a melody not unlike Elton's song "Part Time Love." This style was continued on the song "Dance (Don't Think)" and the one single taken from Deltics, the track "Diamonds," but this was hardly surprising as the album was produced by Gus Dudgeon who had been influential in producing most of Elton John's albums to date. However, there was a variety on the album that showed great promise, from these uptempo numbers to the great atmospheric guitar work by Robert Ahwry on the title track and the ballads "She Gave It Away" and "The Things That Lovers Do." "Raincoat and a Rose" was obviously going to tug at the heartstrings with a string section during the intro and the chorus, and the song did turn out to be about forbidden love while the track "Cenotaph" was an interesting two-minute instrumental that led into the more rock-oriented "Letter from Amsterdam." Because Rea's career has lasted so long, still enjoying hit albums in the 21st century, his early work, which was not as commercially successful, is sometimes overlooked and Deltics is a prime example, a great album, hardly ever mentioned in discussions of Chris Rea's many recordings.
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AllMusic Review by Sharon Mawer