Blues favourite Joe Camilleri fronting The Black Sorrows for a breath taking performance at Agnes Blues Roots and Rock Festival.
Blues favourite Joe Camilleri fronting The Black Sorrows for a breath taking performance at Agnes Blues Roots and Rock Festival. Wezzy Cruze

The Black Sorrows: 'We are no heritage act'

JOE Camilleri's 21st album with The Black Sorrows, Citizen John, debuted at #11 on the ARIA Charts earlier this year.

The album hit #2 on the AIR Chart, and was the third highest-selling physical album of the week.

These results make Citizen John Camillieri's highest charting album in 29 years, since the double-platinum Harley & Rose reached the #3 spot in 1990.

The Black Sorrows are an Australian blues rock band formed in 1983 by Camilleri (ex-Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons) as vocalist, who also plays saxophone and guitar.

Camilleri has used various line-ups to record 17 albums, with five reaching the top 20. They were Hold on to Me (1988), Harley and Rose (1990), Better Times (1992), The Chosen Ones - Greatest Hits (1993) and Lucky Charm (1994).

Their top 40 singles are Chained to the Wheel (1989), Harley + Rose (1990) and Snake Skin Shoes (1994).

Camilleri said the new album is about perpetual change.

"I'm not a heritage act. I've never been a heritage act," he said.

"I've always been a constant player. The Sorrows continue to thrive and grow not because we're a 1980s band, or a 1990s band, or any other kind of band. We exist because of the now. Just treat me like a new act," he says.

"It's just that this one's got a very old face."

Australian fans will have a new opportunity to witness a band at a new peak of performance as The Black Sorrows embark on their Lover I Surrender tour.

"Sometimes you hit a purple patch and you can do no wrong," Joe said.

"I know I've gotta do Harley & Rose. I've gotta do Chained To The Wheel. I've gotta do Hit & Run or Shape I'm In, and I do.

"I do those songs in a really heartfelt kind of way.

"But some of the songs on Citizen John are really hitting home in the live environment: Wednesday's Child, Silvio and Worlds Away are working really well and the band loves playing them. If the band loves playing them, you feel good about it and that shows."

Another tune that has found a life of its own on the road, said Camilleri, is Lover I Surrender, one of the singles from the album.

"It's a simple love song, a soul song," said Joe.

"Citizen John was a difficult record to make because some of the songs didn't like each other.

"Most were kinda dark and every now and then you got a sweetheart. This is one of those."

With more than 50 years of road behind him, the next gig is never something Joe takes lightly.

"It's not very often the band text you to say what fun they had at a gig," he said.

"Normally it's the opposite. You're stuck together in the van for five hours and it's 'get me out of here'.

"We come to play. And that's what I still look forward to. It doesn't matter what happens during the day, it's all about getting up there, doing what you like to do and hopefully people pick up on it and come on the journey with you."


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