Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Blues, Folk, Pop
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Matthew C. (CoopXL) from KENOSHA, WI
Reviewed on 8/21/2009...
This is a great disc with some flaws. John Campbell was a talented singer and slide guitarist. Man, what a gritty, soulful voice. He is simultaneously distinctively himself and at the same time channels the archetypal blues singer - the man who's been beaten down by life, booze, women, you name it.
That's the problem with Campbell's albums. He seems to be trying too hard to fit this image of the Blues Man (check the skull on his microphone in the cover photo). It almost falls into unintentional parody.
Still, there is real talent here. If he hadn't died so soon, I know he would have found his place and become a major artist.
Howlin Mercy - Awesome Blues-Rock
Thomas A. Geiger | Elloree, SC United States | 01/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Howlin Mercy is powerful stuff. Campbell infuses the songs on this record with his soul. The music is vivid and powerful - and Campbell's guitar playing is top notch especially his slide playing on a 1934 National Steel.After reading other reviews, I note that too much is made of Campbell's voice. He does growl abit and he does get low. But, to call him a Howlin Wolf imitator is just flatly untrue. Blues purists may want it to be something else, but on its own merits - Campbell's voice is uniquely his own and damn effective. It's scary. And while Campbell is a known Lightnin Hopkins enthusiast (see his Man And His Blues CD) - you will find very little of Hopkins E-boogie riffs here. On most of the tunes Campbell is playing a slide for one thing. Campbell plays it loud for another. There are no country turn-arounds or other Hopkins trademarks either. This is all Campbell.It is a cheap shot - and patently untrue to imply that Campbell merely lifts When the Levee Breaks from Zeppelin. If you listen to both, you will see that Campbell's version takes the song back to its roots. It is up tempo, and more rock-like than Memphis Minnie, true. But, it is no note-for-note update of the Zeppelin version. Blues purists don't like it because it rocks. So what. This is still awesome blues and a thousand times more enjoyable to listen to than the original Memphis Minnie version. The blues is Campbell's turf and when he burns on When the Levee Breaks and Wolf Among the Lambs your CD player may catch on fire. People who don't like John Campbell or Howlin Mercy usually do so on racial grounds. Some people just cannot accept that a white man can sing and play the blues. If you are one of these folks, stay away. But, if you miss this CD - you are missing something special. Campbell was innovative. Campbell's style (which is highlighted on Saddle Up My Pony and Wolf Among the Lambs) merges the three dominant styles of the blues (the Texas Blues, Mississippi Delta Blues, and barrelhouse boogie style of Leadbelly) and the result is as one reviewer noted like an all out assault on the fretboard. His blues is refreshing. It brings the blues into the present while honoring the imagery and mythology of its roots. It is sad that Campbell died, but his talent was fully developed and this album firmly places him in the pantheon of blues greatness. What is tragic, however, is that his music continues to be minimized by blues purists and others who can't get themselves past his skin color or outside of their own narrowly defined conception of acceptable blues music.To find out more about John Campbell: (http://www.devilinmycloset.net)"
Rockin' blues with attitude
J. Fuchs | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The opening line of "Howlin' Mercy" is "I taught the hellhound to sit, cheatin' Satan playin' cards." Not many singers could sell that line, but John Campbell, with his gravelly baritone, makes you believe it. This is blues with bite, the sound of the hard-living but tender-hearted bad-ass keeping on the move and looking for redemption. Think of him as the blues soulmate of Johnny Cash, even though Campbell, who died of a heart attack at age 45 after recording only 3 albums, never got the chance to achieve the status of a legend. Whether he would have is anybody's guess, but the seeds are here. Some of the songs are traditional blues, but most have a little musical twist -- a touch of rockabilly, a little swamp voodoo, a bit of rock. This is an album that just gets better on repeated listening."