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Eddie C. Campbell - Spider Eating Preacher

Delmark Records

15 songs; 61:51 minutes

Styles: Chicago West Side Blues, Deep Funk Blues Grooves

I can ‘Name That Guitarist’ in five notes ... it’s Eddie C. Campbell! Imagine a game show like “Name That Tune” except with guitar players. Guitarists are all unique, but some have a sound that is so distinct that it is their own signature. The trademark reverb-drenched tones coming from the fingers and metallic purple Fender Jazzmaster of Eddie C. Campbell are simply unmistakable.

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. Blues connoisseur Bill Dahl, in the liner notes to this highly-anticipated new release states: “There aren’t many of the Blues guitar giants left who once freely roamed Chicago’s West Side, spraying off reverb-soaked shards of notes on their axes while piercing the night air with their tortured vocal cries. We’re fortunate indeed to have Eddie C. Campbell still with us, performing absolutely at the top of his game….” Legendary album producer Dick Shurman adds: “Eddie and I have been friends for over 35 years now and he calls me his brother, so working with him is special. It’s also extra interesting because they only made one like him; he’s a master of the tradition.”

Campbell’s sophomore Delmark Records release will cement the veracity of this statement in blues fans’ minds. So will the following selections out of fifteen! Only three songs are covers: Mel London’s song popularized by Ricky Allen “Cut You A-Loose,” The Ohio Players’ “Skin Tight,” and Jimmy Lee Robinson’s “All My Life.”

Track 2: “Spider Eating Preacher”--If the title of this song doesn’t immediately grab listeners’ attention, Eddie Campbell’s flaming guitar and rich. Wide-ranging vocals will. Why does the titular character consume these critters? The lyrics give a clue: “Spider eating preacher says, ‘They’re the Devil in disguise’.” With his paranoia running rampant, one might think that this holy man’s crusade against arachnids might never end! But, the esoteric lyrics were actually written by Eddie’s wife and partner Barbara Mayson about her blindness: “It’s in darkness that you’ll see the light.” Heating up the horn section are Chris Neal on tenor sax, Marques Carroll on trumpet, and Aaron Getsug on baritone sax – all from Guy King’s Little Big Band.

Track 3 is noteworthy beside the great music for the personnel: Barbara Mayson plays bass, Lurrie Bell adds guitar, and Eddie plays harmonica for the first time on record which appears one more time on track 11, “My Friend (For Jim On’Neal).” Further, Eddie’s son David adds violin on tracks 1 and 12.

Track 5: “Soup Bone (Reheated)”--The blues is one of the few genres in which ditties about food are perennially popular! Campbell sings an ode to his favorites: the meaty morsel mentioned in the title with collard greens. This mouth-watering track is a remake of one of his first 45’s, a collector’s item on Hawaii Records from the 1960’s. It’s a surefire hit!

Track 15: “Playing Around These Blues”--Guest star Lurrie Bell performs a down-and-dirty duet as the “godson” alongside Eddie Campbell’s “godfather.” The best things about this track are its quintessential rhythm and pure traditional blues sound. Lurrie’s vocals are raw and startling at the beginning (“Yeah, man, God bless us to see another day, man, and to wake up with a good feeling about the blues!”), and his harp rip-roars throughout. They may be “Playing Around…,” but rest assured these two legends take blues seriously!

Sometimes when veteran musicians return to the stage, some of their earlier (and more youthful) magic is inadvertently lost. This isn’t so with Eddie Campbell and his multi-talented fellow artists like keyboardist Darryl Coutts. They’ll make listeners want to meet the “Spider Eating Preacher” and rid themselves of the blues that threaten to “spin a web right round you”!.

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 32 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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