A singer and pianist (though he didn’t seem to play on most of his records) out of Houston who recorded for a number of companies in a brief span without much commercial success.

Not much is known about Campbell who was born in 1933 and began recording for Freedom Records in 1949 at the age of 16. Like many others with that label he also cut sides for Sittin’ In With and later returned to the growing empire of Peacock Records.

Campbell vacillated his output between rock and blues, often producing a hybrid sound musically while changing his vocal inflection and mood of his delivery to suit one genre or another depending on his goals for the song. After a long sabbatical from the studio he cut one final session in 1958 for the tiny Magic Records label, ending his recording career but not his affiliation with music as he opened Carl’s Club in Houston where he held court for years on stage.

He passed away at sixty years old in 1993.

CARL CAMPBELL DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Freedom 1521; September, 1949)
A barn-burner of a record, fueled by teenage enthusiasm and a band skilled enough to keep up with his runaway train vocals and yet at the same time rein things in just enough to allow it to sound reasonably coherent. (6)

(Freedom 1521; September, 1949)
A halfway decent Amos Milburn pastiche, mining his ballad style for a suitable sounding replication but when the original artist is still churning out hits there’s really no need for a less effective imitator. (5)

(Freedom 1528; January, 1950)
A despondent tale filled with no details of his heartbreak that’s delivered in a nasal whine that doesn’t evoke sympathy and may involve a teenager imbibing in distilled spirits or narcotics to ease his pain. “Just say no” kids… to this record that is. (3)

(Freedom 1528; January, 1950)
More intriguing for the potential backstory to the record than the song itself, which is beset with the same issues regarding Campbell’s under-powered vocals and an arrangement that is too stark to add much of a kick. (3)

(Sittin’ In With 550; April, 1950)
As King Tut… By-the-numbers song about a romance on the rocks delivers nothing new in the story, vocals or arrangement, but is at least reasonably competent in all three areas for those seeking something inoffensively generic. (3)