As a relative newcomer to Mark Cameron’s work, I was looking forward to his latest release, Back From The Edge. A busy man for a number of years, his early output through the 70s and 80s was with a band called Citizen’s Patrol and occupied the folk-rock vein. However, this Minnesota born guitar vocalist turned to our beloved genre in 2008 with his debut, Life Of Illusion, and five others. Mark’s earlier blues output is well worth seeking out as songs such as Boxcar Blues and Playing Rough show a thorough understanding of blues…his last excellent album, On A Roll, is reviewed here on Bluesdoodles.
The new album delivers ten original tracks, wrapped in delightful artwork by his mother…it’s a family affair! Musically, it is blues with the occasional foray into rock, blues-rock and a tantalising hint of British 60s pop. It opens very much in the blues; It’s Alright infuses a little funk, but it is over-ridingly blues with a satirical look at authority and money…a neat riff and harp introduce the song and, behind the verses, listen for the chiming chords and a brilliant bass line; a restrained harp and guitar solo lift it higher and makes for a cracking beginning.
This Is The Blues is, unsurprisingly, just that and it bounces along with neat chords, harp and horns; the picking is crystal and wonderfully toned. 2nd Job is an electrified dobro sound with harp joining it to make for a song that could have been conceived on a 30s back porch, but with amplifiers!
Pity there wasn’t an extension to the porch where the harp and slide exchange phrases for a lamentably short time. Never See It Comin’ is blues-rock but restrained and soulful with the sax adding a growl behind the verses before a nicely picked solo. All There Is To It brings a bit of funk to the love triangular table…a tasty harp solo is followed by a guitar solo that has a great tone and just the right amount of notes.
The title track, Back From The Edge, has a slightly rockier feel with blues knocking at its door; almost Mac like (not the later fluffy version) it has Hammond and another great guitar solo. One Size Fits All takes us into the jazz/blues lounge with slinky guitar backing the humour-filled lyrics about intolerance; the trumpet solo leads to a nice guitar piece to hold it all together.
All Dressed Up is slower, bluesier and has some clever snare work backing up the subtle bass and lead riffs as the harp accessorises everything. The guitar solo is the highlight as the picked notes are in the right quantity, clear and beautifully phrased. Dollar For Liquor is my favourite: it’s, I think, about a drunk busking and has a bass line that reverberates, some superb slide guitar..which is always a winner, even if an extended slide solo didn’t materialise.
The final track, Lost And Found, is where my 60s pop reference was found; a sort of Itchycoo Park backing but with a flute and a more serious message…still a neat song, with the harp and guitar making it pure Cameron.
There may be nothing earth shattering here but it is a great listen with variation, imagination and skill shining through on every song and plenty of blues to enjoy along the way too.
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen with variation, imagination and skill shining through on every song and plenty of blues to enjoy along the way too.
This Is The Blues
Never See It Comin’
All There Is To It
Back From The Edge
One Size Fits All
All Dressed Up
Dollar For Liquor
Lost And Found
Mark Cameron: guitar, piano, vocals
Scott Lundberg: bass
Dan Schroeder: drums
Rick Miller: harmonica, melodica
Sheri Cameron: sax, flute, washboard, shaker
Tommy Barbarella: Hammond B3
Suzanne Ernst: bass flute
Tonia Hughes: vocals
Zack Lozier: trumpet, trombone
Sara Renner: vocals
Nick Salisbury: bass
Greg Schutter: drums
(iTunes, inevitably went to another Mark…Mark Cole is Gloucester lad and multi-instrumentalist and his 2018 album, Cole. is also reviewed on the site; Bon Ton Boy was the inscrutable and lovely track…well worth seeking out.)