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Eddie C. Campbell - Tear This World Up

Delmark Records

14 songs; Time 61:02 minutes; Library Quality

Style: Chicago Blues; West Side Chicago Blues

Remember the television game show, “Name That Tune.?” “Bob, I can name that tune in five notes (or even less)!” Players would challenge. Similarly, one can play their own version, that I’ll call “Name That Guitarist.” Some guitar players are so incredibly unique that one could probably name them in just three notes. Sonny Landreth comes to mind, as does the subject of this review, Eddie C. Campbell. Campbell’s trademark reverb-drenched sound on his vintage metallic purple Fender Jazzmaster guitar is unmistakably distinctive.

Eddie C. Campbell, born in Duncan, MS in 1939, is an original bluesman who is one of the last of the originators of the “West Side” sound of Chicago Blues still performing.

Campbell brings his deep funk blues grooves, vibrato guitar, powerful, resonating vocals, and personal song writing style to “Tear This World Up,” a recording that will be regarded as a contemporary classic of Chicago Blues. Far from being in a rut of tradition, Eddie C. continues his “Own Man” approach with Funk and Rock and Roll as well as Blues. There are nine originals and five covers including two by early neighborhood friend Magic Sam Maghett.

For his first recording in ten years, Eddie C. returned to the studio with long time friend and famed producer Dick Shurman (Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, Roy Buchanan) for his Delmark label debut. (Shurman once bought Campbell’s Jazzmaster guitar when Eddie needed the money. Mainly, Shurman wanted to make sure it didn’t fall into the wrong hands and would be available when Campbell wanted it back – which he eventually did.)

There is plenty of variety here, so don’t stop at track one with its relentless North Mississippi boogie groove and clever innuendo about “Makin’ Popcorn.”

Track two “Big World,” a rambunctious and humorous shuffle that is the source of the album’s title, reminds me of the old joke about the dying man telling his priest during final confession that he never “slept with women.” Incredulous, the priest insists that surely he had and to deny it would be a mortal sin. The man reasons, “Well, I suppose I might have dozed off a time or two.”

Campbell covers two tunes by the legendary Magic Sam, “Easy Baby” and “Love Me With A Feeling.” Campbell’s close association with Magic Sam gives him the ability to faithfully re-work the originals but with his own stamp; "Easy Baby" is particularly great.

Another of Campbell’s trademarks is his ability to use a lyrical falsetto in his vocals; here “Tie Your Time Up” gives us a prime example as Eddie laments wasted time.

Speaking of old television shows, remember the theme music to “Twilight Zone?” Campbell plays a section of it on his guitar during “Voodoo,” a reverb and moan laden tale of being done wrong.

A favorite is “Vibrations in the Air,” which Eddie originally cut in the early 70s. Campbell reworks the catchy mid-tempo blues ala Jimmy Reed shuffle and with Mojo Mark Cihlar outstanding on harmonica.

Eddie also recorded a favorite that he performs at live shows, Gershwin’s “Summertime.” But, you won’t “Name That Tune” during the first 48 seconds in which he opens with a raucous Spanish guitar and tremolo solo.

Fittingly, Campbell concludes with “Bluesman,” an acoustic shuffle in which Eddie lists famous artists with whom he played over the years. But, he says, the point is “they played with me!” So, in the next game show, “Name That Bluesman,” remember, his name is Eddie C. Campbell, and he’s a classic!

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
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