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Tear This World Up

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Album Review

In the liner notes for Tear This World Up, Eddie C. Campbell makes an interesting observation about 21st century guitarists who try to emulate the West Side Chicago blues of the 1960s. "Not too many people can play it," Campbell asserts, "A lot try, but then, they get mad and change it into Jimi Hendrix." Indeed, going for that Magic Sam-type of sound isn't easy — add too much psychedelic feedback, amplification, and distortion, and you can end up in Hendrix/hard rock/early heavy metal territory. Don't add enough, and the results can sound like electric Chicago blues in the 1950s rather than West Side Chicago blues in the 1960s. But having worked with Magic Sam himself and having been very active on Chicago's West Side in the 1960s (and Chicago's South Side as well), Campbell has no problem achieving that type of sound on Tear This World Up. If Campbell's electric guitar solos bring to mind Hendrix in any way, it would be pre-1967 Hendrix — that is, before the formation of the Jimi Hendrix Experience (when Hendrix was a sideman for Curtis Knight and Lonnie Youngblood). But the most obvious stylistic comparisons on this 2008 session include Magic Sam (Campbell even performs Sam's "Easy Baby"), Buddy Guy, and Junior Wells. Like Sam circa 1967-1968, this is a blues-oriented CD that occasionally detours into straight-up soul. Campbell, who was 69 when Tear This World Up was recorded, isn't oblivious to non-Chicago blues; "Makin' Popcorn" has a John Lee Hooker-ish appeal (electric Detroit by way of Mississippi), and the unplugged "Bluesman" is Mississippi country blues. But 1960s-style electric Chicago blues is the main focus of Tear This World Up, which recalls that era with enjoyable results.


Born: 06 May 1939 in Duncan, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Happily, Eddie C. Campbell returned to Chicago after spending a decade entrenched in Europe. His shimmering West Side-styled guitar playing and unusually introspective songwriting have been a breath of fresh air on the Windy City circuit, reuniting the veteran bluesman with fans he left behind in 1984. Campbell left rural Mississippi for the bright lights of Chicago at age ten, sneaking a peek at Muddy Waters at the 1125 Club soon after he arrived and jamming with his idol when he was only 12....
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Tear This World Up, Eddie C. Campbell
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