Posts Tagged ‘Eric Burdon’

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In the ’70s, the hits of War were everywhere. From car radios, stereo systems and street parties poured songs like “Cisco Kid “Low Rider” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” hits that, together, helped define the disco decade. But in hindsight, War’s singles only gave a hint of the character and texture of their full albums. In fact, few bands experienced such a disconnect between the songs radio favored and their larger body of work.

War’s best-known songs were terse, catchy and fun, as all great singles should be. But their albums went another way, achieving something elaborate, challenging and deep. Where War’s hits had an accessibility that allowed them to reflect the life of anyone who listened, their albums spoke of specific lives that came from a particular sensibility and place.

The broad catalogue War created during their ’70s prime captured the essence of Los Angeles areas like Compton and Long Beach, places where many of the band’s members either grew up or moved to. The members also reflected the ethnicities in those areas, bringing together Latin, African-American and Caucasian players. In a parallel way, War’s sound combined Latin-jazz, funk, pop and rock. The amalgam arrived just as Afro-Cuban influences were enjoying a fresh surge in music, in acts from Santana and Malo to Mandrill and the Fania All-Stars. While all those groups had distinct sounds, War’s was, perhaps, the most finely-attuned to the groove.

Their deep tracks favored riffs that moved laterally, as an array of soloists took flight above. No fewer than four of their members improvised with distinction, including the Danish-born harmonica player Lee Oskar, sax and flute man Charles Miller, guitarist Howard Scott and keyboardist Lonnie Jordan. Providing their defining foundation was the three-way rhythm section, comprised of bassist B.B. Dickerson, drummer Harold Ray Brown and percussionist “Papa Dee” Allen. Though instrumental sections ate up huge chunks of War’s music, their approach to vocals also played a key role. All seven members sang, often in unison, giving their voices a purpose while simultaneously covering for a flaw. Though all the members had solid voices, none had the pre-eminence of the greatest front men. Singing together gave them extra power. More, their blend of voices gave the music the feel of a neighbourhood in conversation.

That vibe had great symbolic resonance in a place, and at a time, when gang-activity drove many locals apart. The music of War demonstrated the power of unity over division. Heard in that context, hits like “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “Summer and “Low Rider” became peace pipes, connecting the inner city, rather than mere party anthems for the suburbs

During their prime, between 1970 and ’77, this West Coast colossus amassed no fewer than eight gold albums, as well as two platinum sets (both hits collections). They also enjoyed seven Top Ten Billboard singles; Twelve of their songs made the Top 40.

War scored its first chart smash—the Top Five “Spill the Wine” before they even solidified as the group they would become. On their first two album, they backed a singer who was already a star, Eric Burdon of The Animals. The British-born vocalist, along with veteran producer Jerry Goldstein, discovered the musicians during a club show in L.A. and, afterwards, proposed a collaboration. The resulting collection, ‘Eric Burdon Declares War” released in April of 1970, had the feel of a band finding its footing. But the looseness created its own distinction. The album consisted mainly of long, evolving jams. The seven-minute “Vision of Rassan” tipped a hat to avant-garde jazz player Rassan Roland Kirk, while the title of another piece, “Blues for Memphis Slim” made its inspiration just as plain. Not that either song sounded like the music of the artists they name-dropped. Both stressed hard funk, created by the rhythm section, while the soloists riffed and Burdon offered his own mix of rapping and singing. It was a summery, loopy, and sexy sound, indulgent to be sure but with a real feel for the beat.

Their follow-up, Eric Burdon & WAR released under the tongue-in-cheek title ‘The Black-Man’s Burdon” offered unrecognizable improvisations on the Stones’ “Paint It Black and the Moody Blues “Nights in White Satin” A double set, ‘Burdon’ was even more undisciplined than its predecessor, but it had more speed and variety on its side. Though both albums made the Top Thirty, Burdon wound up ditching the group during a European tour, inadvertently freeing them to find their own voice.

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Love Is… is the third album by Eric Burdon and The Animals. It was released in 1968 as a double album. Released to pretty much general apathy in 1968 the original Animals final album, ‘Love Is’, is packed with ace covers of some of their contemporaries recent(ish) tracks. Stand out tune for me is the cover of Traffic’s ‘Coloured Rain’ complete with awesome lengthy guitar solo by future Police-man Andy Summers.

Eric Burdon & company’s “Love Is . . . “ is probably one of their most polarizing albums. On the one hand, it is probably their slickest production and most coherent “concept album” statement — on the other hand it is a ridiculously overproduced piece of hippy silliness with some surprisingly sloppy moments in the playing and singing.
“Love Is . . . “ is a double album with 8 tracks, nearly all of which are covers. The “New Animals” who play on the LP include Zoot Money and Andy Summers, later of The Police (these two had previously recorded an interesting psychedelic single together as Dantalion’s Chariot, more on that below.)

Track 1 is “River Deep, Mountain High” the Phil Spector tune which was a hit for Ike & Tina Turner. It kicks things off in a rousing fashion, Burdon doing his best white-man-soul vocalizing plus groovy wish-I-was-Black adlibs like “I love you baby like a flower loves the spring / I love you baby like Aretha Franklin needs to sing.” Supremely over-arranged in high sixties style, the song climaxes with a wonderful psych-out bridge section where a platoon of acid munchkins chant “tina tina tina tina-nee-na-na” (as in Tina Turner of course.)

Track 2 is a Sly Stone cover, “I’m An Animal”, chosen for obvious reasons (Burdon being the Animal”, ?) IMHO, one of the least interesting Sly tunes which gains little by this remake, the only twist being a floaty electronic piano & gentle wah guitar extended bridge with Eric jiving something about “creation! creature! animalism! brute!”

Track 3 is one of the originals “I’m Dying, Or Am I?” with Zoot doing the call-and-response thing with Eric. More high sixties sub Cream wah guitar dueling with psuedo-spanish acoustic guitars and lots keyboard overdubbage and some extremely out-of-tune background harmonies, plus ye oldest 60’s trick in the book: verses in 4/4 time and choruses in 3/4 for that carnival effect. “God knows I’m dying / my body can’t keep up with my mind.”

Track 4 is a bonafide kitsch classic rock’n’roll massacre with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” it’s given the all-out syke-ee-delick treatment. Martial snare rolls, superquiet to superloud dynamics-via-overdubs, unnecessary acid guitar licks, the MOST out-of tune (and echo-drenched) harmonizing on an album that is chock full of tuneless harmonizing (all the Animals are credited with vocals — bless Eric for his democratic leanings in this respect — how punk!) Plus Eric gives a wonderfully overdramatic reading of what are essentially very corny lyrics. He goes back and forth between a hoarse whisper during the verses and a full-throated roar on the chorus.

Track 5 is nearly as wonderful Traffic’s “Coloured Rain” extended to nearly ten minutes. Where the original was light and hippy-dippy, Eric’s reading is again hilariously over-serious. Extended grooovy raga guitar solo in the middle complete with riffing horn section, and more of that outasite, outatune backup harmonizing (is all that echo supposed to hide whoever it is that’s always a little flat??)

Track 6 is “Too Love Somebody” by the Gibbs, here sounding a bit like Vanilla Fudge (slow with droney organ.) Points off for hiring a blackgirl soulchorus — I dig it more when the guys in the band sing!

Track 7 is a ten minute blues opus “As The Years Go Passing By” — lougey piano jazz plus sub-Hendrix acid blues guitar with Eric at his gauche best/worst, sing-speaking in a ridiculous “black accent.”

The climactic two-part 17-minute-plus monster that took up all of side 4 of the original LP is comprised of a medley of covers: first, “Gemini” originally by Quatermass Eric and Zoot call-and-response again, the lyrics describing the contradictory nature of guess which zodiac sign: “I am black and I am white” etc. Highlight is the overblown (even by the standards of this record) bridge where Eric uses the duality of stereo to schizo-whisper stuff to himself like “there is only one side” — “no there are two sides” — back and forth from left & right speakers. Eventually it transitions into the poppier “The Madman” (a remake of “The Madman Running Through The Fields”, the aforementioned Dantalion’s Chariot single), which is about how the “straights” are like, crazy, man, and features some cool backwards cymbals and a delightful Barrett-Floydish bridge: “isn’t that the madman running through the fields? / isn’t that the madman, wonder how he feels?”

The band fell apart after disastrous tour of Japan and threats from the Yakuza. Eric declared War, John Weider joined Family, Zoot Money and Andy Summers worked with many people including Kevin Coyne and of course in 1977, Andy Summers joined The Police.

  • Eric Burdon — lead vocals, spoken word
  • Zoot Money — bass, backing and co-lead (3, 8a) vocals, organ, piano, spoken word
  • Andy Summers — guitar, backing vocals
  • John Weider — guitar, violin, backing vocals
  • Barry Jenkins — drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Robert Wyatt – backing vocals

This album is both a classic of the high-sixties groovy style and a hilariously dated campy relic right down to the silly photomontage cover art (the band in negative, giant size towering over the grand canyon with an oversize moon in the background.)

Eric Burdon “Rarities” – #12: “Gemini”. Another great track on Eric and The Animals’ 1968 LP “Love Is”, this one takes psychedelic rock to a new level (as the album cover suggests (with The Animals on Cloud 9?). Keyboard player Zoot Money gets some singing time here with Eric and the interplay between them is a marvel. And new New Animal, future Police-man Andy Summers is on guitar here as well! The song was written by Money’s friend, guitarist Steve Hammond, and while it is likely that Money’s previous group, Dantalion’s Chariot, played the song in concert, this track by Eric Burdon is probably the very first recorded version. Great song on a great album!

Animals, TheAnimals, TheImage of The Animals - Five Animals Dont Stop No Show

By Summer 1966, the Animals were ready to call it a day. John Steele had bailed out back in February and Nashville Teens drummer Barry Jenkins was drafted in as his replacement. The band had decided to break up in May, but they were contracted to do a lengthy American tour along with teen stars Herman’s Hermits, so the reluctant five-piece dragged themselves over to the States to fulfil the commitment. But it turned out to be a pretty eventful tour, culminating in a trip to San Francisco where Eric Burdon saw the light.

There, R&B was out but Psychedelia was very definitely in. The group cut a couple of tracks in Los Angeles with Frank Zappa, one of which, The Other Side of This Life, came out as a US 45 in November after the break up. Over on the East Coast, they played a gig at New York’s Wollman Rink Central Park on August 3rd and later on that evening, Chas Chandler had a Damascene moment after seeing an obscure, unsigned guitarist by the name of Jimi Hendrix. Chandler’s days of playing bass were over.

The group’s last gig was on September 5th at the Steel Pier Resort in Atlantic City and that was it for the Animals – at least, until Eric Burdon and The New Animals made their appearance.


Side One: 1. Inside Looking Out (Lomax / Burdon / Chandler) 2. Sweet Little Sixteen (Berry) 3. In The Wee Wee Hours (Turner) 4. Maudie (Hooker) 5. She´ll Return It (Rowberry/Burdon) 6. John Steel (Interview) 7. One Monkey Don´t Stop No Show (Tex)

Side Two: 1. Shake* (Cooke) 2. Don´t Bring Me Down* (Goffin/King) 3. Inside Looking Out* (Lomax / Burdon / Chandler) 4. That´s All I Am To You* (Blackwell / Scott) 5. One Monkey Don´t Stop No Show* (Tex) 6. It´s My Life* (Atkins/Enrico) Work Song (Adderly/Brown)

Every One Of Us  by Eric Burdon and The Animals

First released in 1968 by MGM Records in the USA and later elsewhere, but surprisingly not in the UK. The album made the US Top 200 and the single ‘White Houses’ peaked at No.67. Most of the material is written by Burdon with contributions from Zoot Money and John Weider of the band. Other band members included ex-Nashville Teens drummer Barry Jenkins, Vic Briggs and Danny McCulloch
Though not a commercial success, it was indeed a critical one, being acclaimed a great psychedelic blues album


White Houses
Uppers And Downers
Serenade To A Sweet Lady
The Immigrant Lad
Year Of The Guru
St. James Infirmary
New York 1963 – America 1968

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One of the most important music festivals and music events in popular history and the event that helped coin the phrase “THE SUMMER OF LOVE” it also concluded with the first major appearance of JIMI HENDRIX, The WHO and Indian sitar musician Ravi Shankar psychedelic band MOBY GRAPE………also appearing at the festival were The Association, Lou Rawls, ERIC BURDON and the Animals, plus SIMON and GARFUNKEL and the first big appearnce of JANIS JOPLIN and bought the introduction to white audiences the soul of OTIS REDDING.