"The latest studio album The Language Of Curiosity is an excellent and savoury case in tasty point, but such musical breadth is also to be heard in the live environment, where no show (or song for that matter) is ever the same twice." | Ross Muir - FabricationsHQ
A songwriting strength of the Starlite Campbell Band, formed around husband & wife team Simon Campbell (vocals, guitars) and Suzy Starlite Campbell (bass, vocals)) is the diversity – a mix of blues, rock, folk and harmony-pop sensibilities that continually push boundaries beyond the norm for such genres. It's a creative, smorgasbord approach that cleverly remains cohesive and musically focussed.
The latest studio album The Language Of Curiosity is an excellent and savoury case in tasty point, but such musical breadth is also to be heard in the live environment, where no show (or song for that matter) is ever the same twice.
Starlite Campbell Band Live! is, therefore, not any sort of definitive live performance/showcase because there is no definitive live showcase; every gig entertains, every gig is different, each with its own vibe (and always fun). Which means the fact this live album is culled from various years (the 8 tracks cover shows from 2018, 2019 and 2021, recorded in Bury and Oldham) actually serves better than a one-gig recording.
Take 'Brother' for example, the first track on the album and a song from Simon Campbell’s 2013 solo album Thirtysix – here it eschews its original four-minute studio arrangement to become an eight-minute pop-rockin’ blues, powered by a bubbly bass line and an extended instrumental break that’s as guitar funky as it is Hammond groovy (the latter courtesy of keys player Christian Madden, who features on the first four 2021 numbers).
And anyone thinking this is a band who are too diverse to blues it out need only listen to the 10-minute rendering of 'Cry Over You' from debut album Blueberry Pie; Simon Campbell’s yearning guitar lines (which are decidedly Moore-esque on the intro and finale solo) plaintively sit atop some great Hammond backing and a simple but tight rhythm from Suzy Starlite and the band’s resident drummer, Steve Gibson.
'Take Time To Grow Old,' from The Language Of Curiosity, retains the Beatles meets melodic blues charm of the studio version (bolstered by an endearing, reflective vocal from Simon Campbell); its album mate 'Said So' then cranks up the blues rocking tempo with its nod and a riff wink to 'Get Ready,' before hitting an extended, bass-driven instrumental section that features wailing Theremin and psychedelic guitar soloing.
The slow blues sway of Blueberry Pie number 'Guilty,' featuring Suzy Starlite on vocals, is another to get the extended treatment (through some really nice guitar play from Simon Campbell); the ThirtySix brace of 'Preacher Of Love' and 'Misgivings' then get a live airing.
The former, a funky riffed rhythm and rock blues, features Jonny Henderson on the rippling tones of the Hammond; the latter, also featuring Henderson, is a shufflin’ great jazz blues that jams out to twice its studio length, with impressive (and wonderfully fun) guitar call and Hammond answers.
The album closes out on a lovely version of 'Whiter Shade of Pale,' featuring Procol Harum organist Josh Phillips, who joined the band for their 2019 tour shows.
An oft-covered classic, the Starlite Campbell Band’s version, which remains faithful to the original, has an honesty about it that serves both the band and its place in the live set, well.
The Starlite Campbell Band may have a relatively small piece of the pie (Blueberry, natch), but it’s one of the tastier pieces, as last year’s The Language Of Curiosity and now the Live! album bears out.
Ross Muir - FabricationsHQ