There’s a new group on the British blues horizon, but you’d never know it. The Starlite Campbell Band formed just one year ago, and dare we say, their debut release on the Supertone label, Blueberry Pie, will be taking the Isles, nay, the world, by storm.
Just as the Rolling Stones are making huge waves with their 30th studio release, Blue & Lonesome, along come a couple of seasoned musicians who bring back the sound of early UK blues, to near perfection. We use the term, couple, quite literally, as Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell tied the proverbial knot in 2014. For Blueberry Pie, they added just the right touches by bringing in shuffle master drummer, Steve Gibson, keyboardist, Jonny Henderson; and Spanish harmonica doyen, Danny Boy Sánchez. With Campbell’s tight as a tick guitar, Starlite’s deep, funky bass and their combined natural vocals, this pie is delicious to the very last.
They cover all the bases on this one, beginning with what will surely be the hit track on the album, “Walkin’ Out the Door.” After the opening stick count, we were immediately transported to Memphis, circa 1962, with Henderson’s Hammond summoning the image of Booker T. Jones. But wait, what’s this? The wah-wah guitar, heavy ride and bottomless bass begin to conjure the ghosts of Cream. This is what the originators of UK blues took from their American mentors and fabricated into their own distinct genre. The Starlite Campbell Band nailed the sound, on an outstanding original track.
All eleven tracks on this offering are originals, written by Starlite and Campbell over the course of just a few months. The band’s hat-tip to deep Chicago blues comes out on, “Cry Over You,” and the final cut, “Thrill You,” nods to the string bending mastery of the late, great B. B. King. One can hear the influences of folk, rock, and blues all come across those vintage amps.
The couple were completely hands on with this album. Suzy and Simon not only wrote all the songs, but they also produced, engineered and recorded the entire release at their own, Supertone Records Studios in Estivella, Valencia, Spain. Starlite even took the cover photo, a sweet picture of her late grandmother, Betty, that she took in the late 70s.
From the haunting, “I Need a Light,” to the dance floor packing, “Your So Good For Me,” to the dulcet acoustic title track, Blueberry Pie, is just what the doctor ordered, diet be damned.