[8 October 2009]
Like so many veteran bluesmen before him, Eddie C. Campbell upped sticks in the mid-‘80s and moved to the more lucrative shores of Europe where he spent most of the next decade touring; appearing curiously in a German production of William Faulkner’s play, Requiem For A Nun; and cutting his impressive ‘84 LP Let’s Pick It! in Amsterdam. However, since returning stateside in 1992, one of the preeminent players of the Chicago West Side blues sound, defined in the ‘60s by such greats as Campbell’s friend Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf (all shared a stage with Campbell at one time or another), has been a regular draw live yet seldom seen in the studio. Campbell’s Delmark debut and first fresh record in over a decade, Tear This World Up, is about to rectify this imbalance. With his purple Fender Jazzmaster ringing with reverb throughout, a punchy horn section, simmering organ, and some vocal gymnastics that’ll make your eyes water, the “King of West Side Funk Blues” rocks out on “Big World”, pays respect to Magic Sam with a moody cover of the man’s “Easy Baby”, enters the Twilight Zone on “Voodoo”, and gets downright soulful on album highlight “Care”, a deep groove-and-grind original. Campbell doesn’t so much tear things up here as rip them asunder.