if it's the last thing we ever do...
May 11, 2013 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Well, folks, Eric Burdon turned 72 today. And the man deserves some props, you know, for Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood and It's My Life and We Gotta Get Out of This Place and Don't Bring Me Down and a few other tunes as well. Oh, and he brought House of the Rising Sun to, yeah, a whole new generation. Happy birthday, Eric.
posted by flapjax at midnite (24 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Ah, yes - Sky Pilot. Hearing it always takes me back to Vietnam in 1968, and the feeling that yes, there were people back in The World who had their heads on straight..
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:18 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Great post. Dude was an Animal.
posted by googly at 5:22 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like Bruce Springsteen's way of talking about how he, as a young man, understood Burdon:
When you saw Eric Burdon, he was like your shrunken daddy with a wig on. He never, he never had a kid's face. He always had a little man's face, you know.

And he couldn't dance. And they put him in suit, but it was like putting a gorilla in a suit. You could tell he was like, "Fuck that shit, man." He didn't want it. And then he had that voice that was, like, I don't know, the Howlin' Wolf, or something – coming out of some seventeen or eighteen–year–old kid.
Happy Birthday, Eric Burdon!
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:37 AM on May 11, 2013 [10 favorites]

That Springsteen quote is so spot on it's scary.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:41 AM on May 11, 2013

Saw The Animals at an all-nighter in Birmingham Town Hall in the early spring of 1964 and they closed with House of the Rising Sun. Just awesome. No surprise that in the summer of that same year they released it as a '45. Recorded in one take, they say.

I don't know if I am making this up, but at some point much later, I read that Dylan was driving his car in late-1964 and the song came on the radio, and he had to pull over. Dylan had featured that same song on his folkie first album. But here it was now with an electric band and swirling organ and Mr Burdon. Thin wild Mercury music?

What's more, the Animal's House clocked in at just over four minutes when forty-fives average two minutes thirty seconds.

Soon after, Dylan put together his first 'electric' album, Bringing It All Back Home. And when he did he's British 'folk' tour to the UK in the spring of 1965, Animal's organist Alan Price was in attendance for some of the after gig fun. There's a splendid moment in the film Don't Look Back where Price opens a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale using the side of a piano.

Thanks flapjax.

Happy Birthday Eric!
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:05 AM on May 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

Thanks for linking to War, PeterMcDermott. I figured I'd leave that for the comments, and... there you were!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:11 AM on May 11, 2013

I dreamed i was in a hollywood movie....

That clip is just fuckin EPIC. Live groove, deep.

Thanks, cleroy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:12 AM on May 11, 2013

War was how I learned about Burdon actually. I knew them from lowrider, than a cow-orker who was way more into funk and soul than I was at the time lend me "Why Can't We Be Friends?" and "Platinum Jazz" and I was hooked. From there on I backtracked through their catalogue and hit The Black-Man's Burdon" and "Eric Burdon Declares War".

Those two albums, perhaps even more so than Sly Stone's work, are the perfect mix of laid back funk and psychedelic rock and their version of Tobacco Road is brilliant.

As always, if you go traipsing through Youtube for music videos, you end up at a Beat Club session which neatly shows how strange and wonderful the Eric Burdon version of War was.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:13 AM on May 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Saw him perform at a SXSW day party this year -- dude hasn't lost it, not one bit.
posted by kaseijin at 7:19 AM on May 11, 2013

My brother came home one day from Record World at the Roosevelt Field Mall with a War album. It had Low Rider on it. I wore it out. Fell in love with Burdon's voice. Found all the Animals stuff too.

The Bruce quote is pretty dead on, but say what you want about the rest, the friggin 4 button suit in the House of the Rising Sun video is awesome. Love the skinny black ties too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:39 AM on May 11, 2013

I saw him for the first time ever live at SXSW this year, just stumbling into his show accidentally. I thought "that can't be" but then he opened his mouth, and by $DEITY, it was. Props to the man for putting out new material--which he was touring on--and continuing to be engaged at this late stage in a great career instead of resting on his laurels.
posted by immlass at 7:46 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

The biggest success my band ever achieved was being the opening act for Eric Burdon and the Animals when their tour came through Seattle sometime in the 90s. It was a big deal for us, even though we really only got the gig by putting ourselves on the hook for x number of ticket sales. It couldn't have been a big deal for them, playing the Ballard Firehouse. We figured they either just really loved touring or they really needed the money.

My band killed it that night. We really rose to the occasion and put together the tightest set we had ever played. The crowd was into it too, which frankly was kind of a new experience for us. Then Eric Burdon and the Animals played (they needed to use our drummer's kit, for whatever reason) and they were as professional as it gets. Just an outstanding show. If there was any "just going through the motions" in their act, they had those motions down cold.

We didn't hang out with them after the show, but Eric Burdon himself did take the time to say hello and compliment us, with comments that indicated that he had actually heard what we played and maybe even liked it a little bit. He didn't have to do that, but it was nice that he did.

Happy birthday, Eric. As if your body of work wasn't impressive enough already, you're also leaving quite a wake of impressed new fans behind as you keep on rocking.
posted by Balonious Assault at 7:57 AM on May 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

I could never love him because he stole glory that should have been Nina's.
posted by Diablevert at 8:09 AM on May 11, 2013

"Impressed new fan here." I now want to learn about Vietnam War music.
posted by michellenoel at 8:17 AM on May 11, 2013

There are many versions of House of the Rising Sun, but Burdon and the Animals will always be my favorite. Like many above, I was overseas (Japan and Vietnam) when I first heard it.
posted by jgaiser at 9:11 AM on May 11, 2013

Here's Eric and War covering Paint it Black from the same German TV show linked above.

On the end of the "Most of The Animals" compilation there's an interview snippet with Eric and one of the things he talks about is Andy's 32 bar solo on Coloured Rain. It wasn't until about 15 years later I realised he was talking about Andy Summers.
posted by bruzie at 9:56 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Impressed new fan here." I now want to learn about Vietnam War music.

Landed in Frisco, ran the gauntlet. Caught a flight to Alamagarbage to retrieve my car. Heading east the first song I heard was "Reflections of my life." Had to pull over and finish crying.
posted by crushedhope at 10:43 AM on May 11, 2013

Whenever I hear Four Cornered Room, all I wanna do is sit in a velvet room with red lights and smoke a lot of fuckin' dope and get stoned off my ass... (I don't think he actually sings on that one?)

Happy Birthday you soulful white man.
posted by symbioid at 11:50 AM on May 11, 2013

Never heard a version of "Rising Sun" to compare. Nailed it. EB&TA are a part of True 60s Soul. And part of the most fantabulously, explosively creative without losing touch with musicality era of pop music, 1964-1968. Salud!
posted by Twang at 3:27 PM on May 11, 2013

Never heard a version of "Rising Sun" to compare.

Well, there's a hella lotta good ones, though...

Check growabrain's excellent post from last year. I'll take the liberty of copy/pasting a comment I made there, about this point:

I'd say that the lasting beauty and significance of a song like Rising Sun is that there are so many versions, from so many genres and so many points of view, that there is, in fact, no *definitive* version. The song itself is supreme, and all the interpreters are just laying their offerings upon the altar.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:13 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

That Beat-Club version of "Spill the Wine" is excellent. I did miss the Spanish-language non sequiturs that an unnamed woman speaks in the background on the studio version (2:14 et seq.).
posted by the sobsister at 6:30 PM on May 11, 2013

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