Although he doesn't have a marvel of a voice like Steve Winwood, Eric Burdon's expressive, blue collar baritone does have enough blood, sweat and grit in it to give his singing a kind of desperate realness, and he sounds more often than not like a man at the end of his rope spilling his life story as if it were flashing right then before his eyes. ...
Although he doesn't have a marvel of a voice like Steve Winwood, Eric Burdon's expressive, blue collar baritone does have enough blood, sweat and grit in it to give his singing a kind of desperate realness, and he sounds more often than not like a man at the end of his rope spilling his life story as if it were flashing right then before his eyes. It is this quality that has gotten Burdon labeled a blues singer by many critics, although his greatest achievements haven't been with blues songs but in bringing out the bluesy qualities in pop material like Mann and Weil's "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" or Goffin and King's "Don't Bring Me Down," both hits for the Animals, Burdon's breakthrough group. Burdon left the Animals in 1966, only to form a second version of the group a year later, and returned to the charts with psychedelic material like "When I Was Young," "Monterey" and "San Francisco Nights," songs that now seem somewhat dated in a way that his classic tracks with the first incarnation of the Animals do not. Burdon opened the 1970s with another new group, War, and the eccentric mock epic "Spill the Wine," but it was to be his last real run at the pop charts, and after leaving War, he began the long series of solo projects, one-off collaborations, and reformed incarnations of the Animals that are documented on the second disc of this two-disc overview of his career. That pretty much leaves his real legacy to the first disc, which has all the truly essential stuff (only "Sky Pilot" appears to be missing). The latter day material collected on disc two finds Burdon lost and drifting more often than not, although the live "No More Elmore," a tribute to Elmore James which ends up being Burdon's loose and personal history of the blues, the reggae-tinged "Dey Won't," and the quick, frenetic "Lights Out" are all remarkable tracks that find Burdon capturing a little of his 1960s working man's swagger, but most of the rest is forgettable. Still, you get two discs here for the price of one, with the first disc documenting a one-of-a-kind singer at the top of his art, while the second serves as something of a cautionary tale. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi
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