Joe Camilleri, saxophonist, producer, songwriter, vocalist, bandleader and conceptualise has a distinct aversion to fame and the restrictions of a high public profile. He prefers to make music when and how he likes it, for whomever might be listening at the time. Sometimes that approach sells large numbers of records and sometimes it slips right by the public unnoticed, either way, the mature outpourings of Joe's 'musical sponge' approach are never less than engaging and often inspiring.
Every time Camilleri enters a recording studio he pays witting or unwitting tribute to his heroes. The most obvious, and enduring, are Van Morrison and Mink De Ville but the other tinges are unmistakable — Chuck Berry, Clifton Chenier, Ray Charles, Bobby Womack, Jacob Miller, Otis Redding, Don Covay and John Lee Hooker. "You have to deal with your influences", muses Joe, "but if you learn your craft listening to the best people in the world, you can't go too far wrong. At the moment I'm trying very hard, vocally, to just sound like myself but in the end I'm a music fan and that can be quite a passionate thing."
Camilleri was born in Malta during 1948, the third of ten children. In 1964 he was singing with a band called The Brollies, then joined up with ex-Captain Matchbox member Dave Flett in the King Bees. After they split, Camilleri retired from rock'n'roll for a few years, resurfacing as leader of the Adderley Smith Blues Band in I 970. Two years later he was with Lipp & The Double Decker Brothers and, even later, toured WA mining towns with Flett and Skyhooks founder Peter Starkie — as Roger Rocket & The Millionaires. Back in Melbourne, Camilleri played with The Sharks and then The Pelaco Brothers, who recorded a memorable EP. This led to a brief association with Mushroom Records for the Christmas 1975 single "Run Run Rudolph" (as Jo Jo Zep), produced by Ross Wilson. Camilleri was then asked to open for Skyhooks at a Myer Music Bowl concert in Melbourne and recruited Gary Young, John Powers, Wayne Burt and Jeff Burstin. Thus was born Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, who debuted on vinyl with "Beatin' Around The Bush", which was featured in the film Oz.
|Joe Camilleri & Jane Clifton (Coundown 1982)|
The hard-blowing, hot-swinging Falcons were a distillation of a decade of diligently noncommercial urban blues bands. They stood their uncompromised ground until Australian rock caught up with them and then proceeded to blow everyone else offstage with contagious boogie of a relevant and intelligent nature. Highly regarded in diverse musical circles, they toured with Graham Parker & The Rumour and were invited to play at the 1960 Montreaux Jazz Festival, in the wake of the acclaimed 'Screaming Targets' album and two strong chart hits, "Hit and Run" and "Shape I'm In".
The band continued on its winning way with the 'Hats Off Step Lively' album and 'Dexterity' mini-LP but by 1982, Joe had dispensed with The Falcons and was in the upper reaches of the charts with "Taxi Mary", as plain Jo Jo Zep. The 'Cha' album moved Joe away from straight R&B into elements of jazz, latin big band, reggae, zydeco, ska and salsa. He hit the road with an ambitious 11-piece brass-heavy band, including vocalist Jane Clifton and in 1983 undertook the Work Imperative tour with Cherine (sister of I'm Talking's Zan) and fellow Van Morrison freak Joe Creighton. [extract from "External Combustion" by Glenn A Baker, 1990. p146-147]
(Coundown Magazine Vol 7 Jan 1983)
In the November issue of the Countdown Magazine we checked out the half of the Falcons that transformed themselves into the Rock Doctors. Now we come to half of the band who stayed by Joe Camilleri's side as he set about forging a new direction. And new is the operative word.
Joe's third album with producer Pete Solley finds him breaking away from his R&B base and exploring reggae, jazz, techno-pop, Joe Jackson-type big ballads. Caribbean rhythms and more. The result is a heady potpourri, a frothy brew of style and substance. The strong vocal contributions of Jane Clifton give this work a dimension that was not possible during the days of the Falcons.
At the same time,we have lost the Falcon's incomparable handling of surging rhythm and blues and white soul. Still, in the interests of progression, the tradeoff has been worthwhile.
This post consists of MP3 (320kps) ripped from CD (thanks to Motcher76 at Midoztouch) and full album artwork for both LP and CD. I am also including as a bonus track the non-album B-Side to the single Taxi Mary called "This Is Our Time". Cha was a very different style of album to Joe's earlier releases with the Falcons, and I must admit, took me some to appreciate. Although I preferred his earlier 'dance music' with the Falcons, I now understand that change was important to Joe and his final evolution into the Black Sorrows was imminent. Hope ya enjoy this album and when I get time, I might start posting some of his earlier material as Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons.
01 - Walk On By
02 - Taxi Mary
03 - Sherrie
04 - Slave For Love
05 - You're Gonna Get It Boy
06 - Lonely Man
07 - Man Is Just A Boy
08 - Spirit Of The Land
09 - Can't Decide
10 - This is Our Time (Bonus B-Side Single)
Jo Jo Zep were:
Vocals, Saxophone, Clarinet, Organ, Design – Joe Camilleri
Bass – Simon Gyllies
Drum – Linn LM-1
Guitar, Mandolin – Jeff Burstin
Percussion – Des McKenna
Keyboards – Peter Solley
Additional vocals - Jane Clifton
Jo Jo Zep Link (98Mb)