The news that Eric Burdon- I know, to many, whooooooooooooo?- is bringing out a new record made me think back to when I first started listening to this very much underrated, neglected and forgotten singer.
At least, Springsteen remembered him recently to get him up and go into overdrive with a version of “We Gotta Get Outta This Place.”
Eric Burdon was the pock-faced, elfin-like singer with the Animals and when many of us wanted to sing the “blues” despite knowing zero about “the blues” and still to appreciate what was the REAL blues of people like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf etc. Eric Burden, well, he was white, he was from Newcastle, he was part of the British Beat Boom and though not knowing what the hell “The House Of The Rising Sun” was, we managed to learn the chords to the song- it was a Must in all repertoires- and we tried- at one time or another- to sing it in the same key as Burden. Many dogs howled and cats screeched at these efforts. For Burdon, singing this epic fucking song was easy. It was as natural and simple as singing the Blues.
Again, being dedicated followers of fashion, some, the original hipsters, tired of the Beatles and Stones and embraced the more “exclusive” Animals- and Eric Burdon- and listened to his versions of “Boom Boom,” “Dimples” and “Bo Diddley.” It was The Blues and the The Blues was not Pop and which made it “exclusive” and “cool.” Even when the Animals went Pop and recorded a spate of hits- “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” being a personal favourite and with over eight MILLION views on YouTube- the vocals of Eric Burdon made them not seem to be lightweight fluff like some new record by, let’s say, the Hollies.
With Chas Chandler on bass who went on to manage Hendrix, Alan Price on organ, Hilton Valentine on Guitar and John Steele on drums, the Animals created some timeless Blues Pop and which I needed to listen to again with “fresh ears” and a “new heart.” It’s incredible stuff.
A few days ago, a friend and I happened to hear Lennon’s/The Beatles’ “In My Life” and we both stopped and listened and then wondered why no one was making music like this anymore. In front of us, we started at a montage and which had in the corner, a picture of Jim Morrison. At that point, a Doors’ track came on. It was, as we used to say, mind-blowing. But there were so many other bands who have got lost in the shuffle and who need to be remembered for everything they brought to music- the Kinks and the lyrical eloquence of Ray Davies. Without Ray Davies, I doubt there’d be a Damon Albarn.
There was, of course, Hendrix, but let’s not forget Cream, Traffic, Blind Faith and across the pond, The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield.
This was the pinnacle of musical creativity and you just need to speak to someone like Chris Martin or Bono to understand just how much all this music- and I am not even mentioning the Beatles, Dylan and the Stones plus Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro etc- influenced so many- perhaps not exactly at that time, but when many went back in time to understand that one space in time when all the moons and signs and creativity came together. Ahhhhh, Joni Mitchell, what a brilliant songwriter! What a woman!
As for Eric Burdon, well, we saw the start of Eric Burdon and The Animals and when Flower Power was blooming and blossoming. Was their music pretentious? Perhaps, but there was always THAT VOICE OF Burdon’s keeping everything real just as he did with Eric Burdon’s War.
Eric Burden has mentioned how he wished he could have spoken to Bo Diddley before he passed away.
Well, here’s one writer who wishes he could speak to Eric Burden to say, “Man, thanks for all the great music.”