23 Nov 2011

Eric Burdon & The Animals - Winds of Change / The Twain Shall Meet - Obscure Classics

Great albums you may have missed.

Eric Burdon & The Animals - Winds of Change / The Twain Shall Meet ( 1967 / 1968 )

The Animals were initially one of the most successful British Invasion bands, with hits like House of the Rising Sun & It's My Life, but by the mid sixties they were left behind by bands like the Beatles and the Kinks, whose music was evolving far more quickly.
Burdon dropped the rest of the band, moved to San Francisco, discovered LSD and caught up very quickly releasing these two albums in 1967 and 1968.
A cynical listener might be tempted to suggest that Burdon was jumping the psychedelic bandwagon, but anyone who seriously listens to these albums should be able to pick up on his sincerity. It should be pointed out that these albums are loathed by as many people as they are loved by others. Detractors would point out that Burdon's seemingly overnight transformation from a hard drinking Geordie bluesman to love generation spokesman is hard to take seriously and that his spoken word delivery on a lot of these tracks is over-earnest and often naive. And strangely enough I would tend to agree with these people, yet I still have a great deal of affection for these albums, in spite of and sometimes because of these faults. After all, a great deal of acknowledged psychedelic classics are lyrically fairly embarrassing, so why judge these albums on a different scale?
The Band are fantastic on these tracks, and really cook when they get a chance to stretch out on lengthier tracks like I Love You Lil. Burdon also managed to write some iconic singles at this time embracing his new lifestyle. Sky Pilot, Monterey and San Franciscan Nights were massive hits, but it's the more challenging album tracks which attract me to these albums. The Black Plague is a six minute spoken word piece which seems to come under particular attack in other reviews I've read. I think it's fantastic. Accompanied by gentle acoustic guitar and church bell this reminds me more than a little of Scott Walker's Seventh Seal, which was recorded well after this and is universally regarded as marvelous ( which it is ).

Here's a live clip of the Black Plague:

Paint it Black is stretched to breaking point and turned into something else completely, making the Stones original version sound embryonic by comparison.
We Love You Lil and No Self Pity are early psychedelia at it's absolute best. It's time for a re-evaluation in my opinion. These albums need to be approached in the right frame of mind. As long as you don't expect a life changing spiritual journey - which I suspect Eric was aiming for, these are much more enjoyable than you've been lead to believe.

Listen to No Self Pity :

After these albums, Burdon released several more albums of weaker material in a similar style, one featuring Andy Summers ( former Dantalion's Chariot and future Police guitarist ), before abandoning the Animals moniker and reimagining himself yet again by recruiting funk act War- the two albums they released together are worthy of investigation too.

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