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A Chicago blues take on a jazz standard...

VCV: Eddie C. Campbell – “Summertime”

2010 Blues Music AwardsI have a mission: I will finish reviews of all five Album of the Year nominees for the 2010 Blues Music Awards before my ballot is due at the end of this month. Four are down and I have one to go. As a little breadcrumb to that goal, we're going to talk about another song from Eddie C. Campbell's Tear This World Up

Campbell's interpretation of Gershwin's “Summertime” is one of the highlights of Tear This World Up. One interesting side note about “Summertime” is how prevalent it is in pop culture. Sublime sampled a bit from this song and there are lines in this that remind me of Mudhoney's “Generation Spokesmodel,” just to name a couple. This tune is in the pop culture lexicon.

Campbell opens with a guitar figure that sounds like it came fresh off a White Stripes' record. We all know Jack White is a serious student of the blues, citing Son House as one of his most important influences. Listen to a few Stripes' records and it's clear this is one of the few things White hasn't lied to us about in those interviews. His understanding and appreciation for the blues – and not just the more mainstream bluesmen – is apparent. The “Summertime” intro sounds similar to White's work on “I Think I Smell A Rat” from White Blood Cells.

As the song progresses, Campbell takes a few more tasty turns with guitar. My favorite is the intro, but what he does at the end is also really interesting. Actually, this song is a great piece of guitar work because Campbell shows his versatility. What you hear at the beginning is different from the solo he takes midway through the song and ends with some sweet chording. He blends distinct guitar personas in the same song- a cover of a well known song not associated with the blues. On “Summertime,” Campbell stretches the bonds of the traditional blues without bursting them. That takes some real creativity.

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