Joe Camilleri is a chameleon, a musician of many parts: a songwriter, singer, saxophonist, producer, performer, bandleader and even record label boss. But if you want to know who the real Joe Camilleri is - what inspires him and what makes him tick - then there is no better place to start than the new album Certified Blue from his band The Black Sorrows - formed 3 decades ago in 1984. You could, of course, delve back into Camilleri’s distinguished career and listen to his previous work with different incarnations of the Sorrows or his previous band Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, one of Australia’s greatest ever rockin’ rhythm and blues bands. You might also like to check out his other side projects such as the Amazing Revelators or Bakelite Radio that explore his musical predilections.
If you want to see Camilleri perform live then you will get plenty of opportunities. With the Black Sorrows, he has played every major roots music festival in Australia – including Byron Bay’s renowned Bluesfest. He is not only one of the best musicians in the land but also one of the hardest working; there is hardly a week when he isn’t flying off to some far-flung gig in Australia or overseas. But you do not have to dig into Camilleri’s past if you do not have time because Certified Blue is a great jumping off point to discover, or perhaps rediscover, a legendary Australian musician: a member of the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame with a dozen or more Top 10 albums; ARIA for Best Band; sales of more than a million worldwide and over 45 releases to his name. He is also the only Australian musician to release a triple album (Crooked Little Thoughts) with a hardback book!
You want blues, ballads, rock, country, gospel, swing, honky tonk? It is all here on Certified Blue and it contains some of the best songs that Camilleri has ever written with his long-time writing colleague Nick Smith. With its swelling string section the title track Certified Blue is an old school soul ballad that Otis Redding might be proud of – and Camilleri should be. Wake Me Up In Paradise, Lovers Waltz and The Big Heartache prove that Camilleri is as fine a crooner as he is rocker on three of the best ballads he has ever recorded. Then on the more strident ballad Call Me A Fool you can hear Camilleri channelling Ray Charles, another one of his idols.