Saturday, March 17, 2012

Eddie C Campbell Looking Out For The Spider Eating Preacher

Eddie C. Campbell is among the last of the West Side Chicago bluesmen still standing. A disciple and colleague of Magic am, he still lays down similar reverb soaked guitar runs and riffs while singing his soulfully delivered laments. Not as direct or extroverted a player as Magic Sam, Otis Rush and others, his laconic style with a restrained attack has its own charms.

Delmark has just issued his latest recording Spider Eating Preacher that displays his distinctive blues style. He is joined by Daryl Coutts on keyboards; Vuyani Wakaba and his wife Barbara Mayson share bass duties; and Robert Pasenko on drums. Lurrie Bell is on three selections and a full horn section is on four. The release is mostly comprised of Campbell’s quirky originals although there are three covers which thankfully are not overly familiar blues warhorses.

Thinks get off to a good start with I Do, which displays one consistent strength of his wonderfully paced style with an understated vocal, and horns that go beyond simple riffing that helps frame Campbell’s reverb-laced guitar standout. He never comes across as hurried and this is further illustrated on the title track as he sings about the devil awaiting under his rocking chair, but when one is in the darkness, one will see the light. Lurrie Bell makes one of his guest appearances on guitar on Call My Mama on which Campbell plays harmonica while the band grooves on the Smokestack Lightning melody, with Coutts being particularly outstanding on piano here.

An understated reworking of Ricky Allen’s Cut You A-Loose is followed by Soup Bone (Reheated), which revives and rearranges on of his early 45s as he sings about having a soup bone but is hungry and will be putting the soup bone down and try some collard greens. The lazy shuffle lament, I Don’t Understand This Woman, is followed by the jaunty Boomerang, with is hook line, “Sling me like a boomerang, I’ll come right back to you,” with some nice greasy organ from Coutts followed first a searing guitar solo by Alexander Mejia before Campbell himself takes a measured solo.

There is a solid remake of the Ohio Players’ funky Skintight as well as the superb, down-in-the-alley slow blues All My Life originally done by the late Jimmy Lee Robinson. Set to a Bo Diddley groove, My Friend (For Jim O’Neal) is a tribute to former Living Blues editor Jim O’Neal who helped step up and gave Eddie breaks and publicity decades ago. Brownout is an instrumental set to a funk groove with surprising twists in how Campbell constructs his solo.

The recording closes with Eddie on acoustic guitar and Lurrie on harmonica as having some fun, Playing Around These Blues. Its a relaxed, enjoyable conclusion to Eddie C. Campbell’s latest album. One would be hard-pressed to name a poor recording by him and while it may not be his best (King of the Jungle that Jim O’Neal reissued on Rooster Blues is worth looking for), will be welcomed by his existing fans and hopefully we get him many more new ones.

I received my review copy from Delmark Records. Here is Eddie from the 2008 Pocono Blues Festival. I was at this show.

No comments: