Supertone Records, LLP
CD: 11 Songs, 48:36 Minutes
Styles: Americana, Folk, ‘70s-Influenced Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
On ABC, there’s a sitcom entitled Black-ish, about a upper-middle-class black family living in a classy neighborhood. Its patriarch, Dre Johnson, fears that his success has brought too much cultural assimilation into his household. Blueberry Pie, by the Starlite Campbell Band, might very well be called “Blues-ish.” It doesn’t have the traditional sound or songwriting wit of what most fans deem the blues, but neither are its eleven original songs free from any blues influence. They constitute an easy-listening, experimental hodgepodge of 1970’s funk, folk, Americana, and contemporary electric rock. The first and final tracks, “Walkin’ out the Door” and “Thrill You” (latter reviewed below), are its purest examples of blues. Even then, they aren’t the kind of tunes one would hear at a rowdy roadhouse. One might hear them on Sirius XM, but perhaps not on B.B. King’s Bluesville. Ever had an ice-cream sundae with tons of toppings piled on? It sure is delicious, but you might not be able to discern the hot fudge from the caramel and butterscotch.
Blueberry Pie is the Starlite Campbell Band’s third release, following Luxury in 2015 and Happiness in Halos in 2013. The cover art of that last album is a perfect motif for this quartet’s lighthearted, not-quite-whimsical style. It features a smiling rubber duckie wearing a black beret and sitting next to a bottle of Berberana Spanish wine (glass included). Translation? People are going to hear a little bit of everything listening to their music, but purists might decide there’s too much “cultural assimilation” going on in terms of genres and subgenres. Vocally, these two lie on the median strip: not too loud or soft, showy or bland, melodic or conversational.
Lead vocalists Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell are from the Isle of Man, also called Manx (as in the cat breed) or Mann, located in the British Isles. Joining them are Steve Gibson on drums and percussion, and Jonny Henderson on Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric piano. Special guest Danny Boy Sánchez is featured on harmonica.
This CD’s closer has a distinct possibility of making it into worldwide blues charts.
Track 11: “Thrill You” – With a slow-burning guitar intro perfect for a romantic evening, coupled with Jonny Henderson’s wry Hammond organ, this song will “Thrill You” if you’re into traditional offerings. It may not break a lot of new ground in terms of lyrics, but no matter. The sentiment here is more ancient than Cro-Magnon hominids: “Nobody told me, nobody told me. Addicted to mystery, the scent of you close to me. Gonna hold you, fulfill you, romance and thrill you on and on.” If no one dances to this number at live shows, they may as well be dead. Check out that wicked solo from Campbell in the middle.
Blueberry Pie has a lot of other “berries” mixed in with its blues, but it’s tasty nonetheless!