Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Animals - the COMLETE ANIMALS

   As the lead singer of the Animals, Eric Burdon was one of the British Invasion's most distinctive vocalists, with a searingly powerful blues-rock voice. When the first lineup of the group fell apart in 1966, Burdon kept the Animals' name going with various players for a few years. Usually billed as Eric Burdon and the Animals, the group was essentially Burdon's vehicle, whom he used to purvey a far more psychedelic and less R&B-oriented vision. Occasionally he came up with a good second-division psychedelic hit, like "Sky Pilot"; more often, the music was indulgent, dating almost immediately. Burdon's real triumphs as a solo artist came at the beginning of the '70s, when he hooked up with a bunch of L.A. journeyman soul/funksters who became his backing band, War. Recording three albums worth of material in the year or two that they were together, the Burdon/War records could ramble on interminably, and would have benefited from a lot of editing. But they contained some spacey funkadelia of real quality, especially their number three hit single "Spill the Wine," which was almost recorded as an afterthought in the midst of sessions dominated by exploratory jams. The band was already big stars on record and stage when Burdon, for reasons unclear to almost everyone, quit the band in 1971. War defied expectations and became even bigger when left to their own devices; Burdon, after recording an album with veteran bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon, cut a series of generally desultory solo albums. He recorded off and on after that, at times with the Animals, but has never come close to reaching the heights of his work with the early Animals and War.
     1 Boom Boom Hooker 3:20 2 Talkin' 'Bout You Charles 7:06 3 Blue Feeling Henshaw 2:33 4 Dimples Bracken, Hooker 2:53 5 Baby Let Me Take You Home Farrell, Russell 2:23 6 Gonna Send You Back to Walker Matthews 2:30 7 Baby What's Wrong Reed 2:51 8 The House of the Rising Sun Price, Traditional 4:32 9 F-E-E-L Unknown 2:44 10 I'm Mad Again Hooker 4:18 11 Night Time Is the Right Time Herman 3:47 12 Around and Around Berry 2:47 13 I'm in Love Again Bartholomew, Domino 3:03 14 Bury My Body Kooper, Price 2:52 15 She Said Yeah Christy, Jackson 2:21 16 I'm Crying Burdon, Price 2:49 17 Take It Easy Burdon, Price 2:55 18 The Story of Bo Diddley Burdon, McDaniel 5:45 19 The Girl Can't Help It Troup 2:23 20 I've Been Around Domino 1:36

1 Memphis Tennessee Berry 3:08   2 Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood Benjamin, Caldwell, Marcus 2:30   3 Club A Go-Go Burdon, Price 2:22   4 Roadrunner Diddley 2:50   5 Hallelujah, I Love Her So Charles 2:48   6 Don't Want Much Gordon 3:25   7 I Believe to My Soul Charles, Learner 3:26   8 Let the Good Times Roll Goodman, Lee 1:57   9 Mess Around Ertegun 2:22   10 How You've Changed Berry 3:14   11 I Ain't Got You Carter 2:31   12Roberta Smith, Vincent 2:07   13Bright Lights, Big City Reed 2:57   14 Worried Life Blues Merriweather 4:13   15 Bring It on Home to Me Cooke 2:45   16 For Miss Caulker Burdon 3:59   17I Can't Believe It Burdon 3:33   18We Gotta Get Out of This Place Mann, Weil 3:15   19 It's My Life Atkins, Derrico 3:09   20 I'm Gonna Change the World Burdon 3:34

The title is a bit of a misnomer; this double CD only includes the complete sessions that the Animals recorded with producer Mickie Most in 1964 and 1965. The 40 songs capture the band at their peak, including most of their best and biggest hits: "House of the Rising Sun," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Bring It on Home to Me," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," "I'm Crying," "It's My Life," and "Boom Boom." Most of the rest of the tunes don't match the excellence of these smashes, though they're solid. The great majority of them are covers of vintage R&B/rock tunes by Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and the like, which aren't quite as durable as reinterpretations from the same era by the Stones and Yardbirds. When they hit the mark, though, the Animals produced some great album tracks that have been mostly forgotten by time, such as "I'm Mad Again" (originally by John Lee Hooker), "Worried Life Blues," and "Bury My Body." After leaving Most, the group would maintain their peak for another year or so (this period is represented on the fine import collection Inside Looking Out) despite the departure of one of rock's all-time finest organists, Alan Price. This compilation has everything that Price recorded with the group, including four previously unreleased cuts and the non-LP Eric Burdon original on the B-side of "It's My Life," "I'm Gonna Change the World.
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