Joe Cocker

Delta Lady

Song Review by

One of Leon Russell's greatest songwriting creations, "Delta Lady" is also one of Joe Cocker's defining moments. Using gospel and funky R&B as a base for the entire song, the record is a virtual mini-suite and is easily the most ambitious song Cocker ever cut. An ascending piano riff introduces the down-home, swampy groove -- the first part climbs and falls with a subtle and dramatic grace. A gorgeous, pop bridge introduces an element of Broadway-inspired pop, which alone is unique for a Russell or Cocker recording. The verses are a full-blown three-chord rock blowout, featuring a fabulous performance from both Cocker and the background vocalists. A very odd but effective, neo-classical bridge breaks the song up in the middle with great drama before returning to the gospel and rock & roll of the final, bone-crunching verse and chorus. Lyrically, it's a love song that was purportedly inspired by Russell's then-girlfriend, Rita Coolidge. As tight and great as this studio version is, the extended live version from Mad Dogs and Englishmen may even be more effective. Russell also cut a great version himself on his Leon Russell album in 1970, and this is worth seeking out.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Joe Cocker! 1969 Hip-O Select / A&M / Hip-O / Strategic Marketing 2:52
Cocker Happy 1971 Castle Music Ltd.
Joe Cocker's Greatest Hits 1977 A&M 2:50
No Image 1986 Castle Music Ltd.
Classics, Vol. 4 1987 A&M 2:50
21 Years of Alternative Radio 1 1988
Various Artists
Strange Fruit 3:01
The Golden Age of Underground Radio 1989 DCC Compact Classics 0:00
Classic Rock: Rock Renaissance, Vol. 3 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:49
No Image 1991 A&M
Long Voyage Home 1995 A&M 2:52
Organic 1996 550 Music / Sony Music Distribution 3:16
Greatest Hits [EMI] 1998 EMI 3:17
Legend/Essential Collection 1999 Polygram 2:52
The Essential Joe Cocker 1999 Spectrum Music / PolyGram 5:45
The Very Best of Joe Cocker [BR Holland] 1999 BR Music 2:51
The Anthology 1999 A&M 2:52
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Joe Cocker 2000 A&M 2:52
Classic Joe Cocker: The Universal Masters Collection 2001 A&M 2:52
Definitive Collection 2002 Festival Records 2:51
Singles 2003 BR Music 2:50
The Ultimate Collection 1968-2003 2003 EMI Music Distribution 2:51
Ultimate Collection [Hip-O] 2004 Hip-O 2:51
Good Morning Vietnam: A Soundtrack for a Generation 2004
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:53
Heart and Soul [Liberation Box Set] 2004 Liberation Blue / Liberation 3:15
Gold 2006 Hip-O 2:51
Colour Collection 2006 Universal Distribution / Universal International 2:52
Classic Cocker 2007 Capitol / EMI Records 3:16
Icon 2011 A&M 2:52
The Life of a Man 2015 Universal 2:52
Good Morning, Vietnam
Various Artists
Summer of Love [Dino]
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment
The Best of Joe Cocker: In the Studio Regal Zonophone
Very Best of Joe Cocker [BR] BR Music 2:52