Eric Burdon / Eric Burdon and War
Band members Related acts
(1970-71) (with War)
- Papa Dee Allen -- percussion
- Harold Brown -- drums
- Eric Burdon -- vocals
- B.B. Dickerson -- bass, backing vocals
- Lonnie Jordan -- keyboards
- Charles Miller -- sax, flute
- Lee Oskar -- harmonica
- Howard E. Scott -- guitar, backing vocals
- P.P. Arnold -- vocals
- Maggie Bell -- vocals
- John "Rabbitt" Bundrick -- keyboards
- Dave Dover -- bass, backing vocals
- Franz Dietz -- guitar
- Hans Jurgen Fritz -- keyboards
- Alexis Korner -- guitar
- Zoot Money -- keyboards, backing vocals
- Ken Parry -- guitar, vocals
- Colin Pincott -- guitar
- Steffi Stephan -- bass
- Alvin Taylor -- drums, percussion
- Jeff Whitehorn -- guitar
- Eric Burdon (solo efforts)
- Lee Oskar (solo efforts)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Eric Burdon Declares War
Country/State: UK / US
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 2578
With The Animals in turmoil, 1970 saw Eric Burdon living in Los Angeles. Burdon was originally interested in starting a film career, but offers didn't come flooding in the door (hard to imagine that). Manager Jerry Goldstein was apparently responsible for suggesting Burdon refocus on music and introduced him to the L.A-based funk band Night Shift (which included a Danish harmonica player). The parties apparently found common interest and after Night Shift re-naming themselves War, the start of a full scale collaboration.
Produced by Goldstein, 1970's "Eric Burdon Declares War" has always struck me as a mixed success. While the focus was clearly meant to be on Burdon, the real stars were War. Not only did the band pen most of the material, but their enthusiastic and frequently funky performances repeatedly saved the album for complete collapse. To be perfectly fair, Burdon deserved some credit for turning in what may have been his best-post Animals performances. His ragged voice actually sounded pretty good on this one and he brought considerable energy to some of the material including the unexpected hit 'Spill the Wine' and tracks like 'The Vision of Rassan' (which deserved credit for name checking jazz legends like John Coltrane, Roland Kirk, and Charlie Parker). Hard to really explain but somehow the mix of Burdon's blues-rock moves and War's funk, jazz, Latin and soul roots made for an intriguing musical mix. Now for the downsides. Most of the album was taken up by two extended jams - a plodding 13 minute War blues original 'Blues for Memphis Slim' and a 12 minute plus cover of John D. Loudermilk's 'Tobacco Road'. Yeah, their Loudermilk cover was better than most, but stretching it out to this length simply wasn't a good idea, particularly when Burdon started to vamp making you wonder if you'd ever see the end of this piece of blacktop. Shame they didn't edit it down by about half as it couldn't have been a true classic. MGM also tapped the LP for a top-10 single in the form of:
- 1970's 'Spill the Wine' b/w 'Magic Mountain' (MGM catalog number K-14118)
Propelled by the single the parent set sold quite well hitting # 18 in the States and # 50 in the UK.
Burdon Declares War" track listing:
1.) The Vision of Rassan (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 7:40
b.) Roll On Kirk
2.) Tobacco Road (John D. Loudermilk) - 14:24
a.) Tobacco Road
b.) I Have a Dream
c.) Tobacco Road
2.) Blues for Memphis Slim (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 13:08
b.) Mother Earth
c.) Mr. Charlie
d.) Danish Pastry
e.) Mother Earth
3.) You're No Stranger (P. Chapman) - 1:55
Rating: 2 stars **
Title: The Black-Man's Burdon
Country/State: UK / US
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve
Catalog ID: 2924
Even though it wasn't great music, Eric Burdon's initial collaboration with the L.A.-based band War sold enough copies for United Artists to finance a follow-up - 1971's double album set "The Black-Man's Burdon". Produced by Jerry Goldstein, the album had its moments, though they were scattered across the collection's 20 tracks and four sides. In spite of his apparent megalomania (blame it on the copious amounts of illicit drugs he'd consumed during the late-1960s), Burdon's voice was still in fair shape and while the quality of material bounced all over the map (United Artists would have done everyone a favor by insisting the release be paired down to a single album set), there were certainly a couple of interesting moments. As exemplified by the packaging (as shown on the inner cover photo, I'm sure Burdon's sensitivity struck a chord with feminists everywhere), Burdon's non-too-subtle social commentary, the extended musical jams, and the general vibe, musically it didn't get much more '70s than this ...
Black-Man's Burdon" track listing:
1.) Black On Black In Black (instrumental) (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 2:05 rating: ** 2 stars
The opener 'Black On Black In Black' was essentially an instrumental with Burdon reduced to some incoherent grunts and screams. Musically the song seemed to serve as an opportunity for the band members to stretch out before launching into 'Paint It Black.
2.) Paint It Black (Mick Jagger - Keith Richards) - 2:05 rating: ** 2 stars
I'll readily admit that the cover of The Stones' 'Paint It Black' was far better than you would have expected. Burdon's growling vocal wasn't bad, though his tendency to wander away from the melody didn't exactly help the song. Luckily War's percussion heavy melody was pretty interesting.
3.) Laurel & Hardy (instrumental) (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 1:30 rating: ** 2 stars
'Laurel & Hardy' found Papa Dee Allen and Harold Brown engaged in an instantly forgettable drum and percussion solo. Pass.
-4.) Pintelo Negro II (instrumental) (Mick Jagger - Keith Richards) - 1:05 rating: *** 3 stars
Pintelo Negro II' found the band returning to The Stones' "Paint It Black'., though this time out it was given a cool Latin-funk groove.
5.) P.C. 3 (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 1:30 rating: * 1 star
I still don't have a clue as to what Burdon was prattling on about on 'P.C. 3' ... It sounded like some kind of slam against police violence ??? Imagine really bad poetry set against one War's duller Latin grooves, or maybe just a bad Monty Python skit ...
6.) Black Bird (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 2:17 rating: *** 3 stars
'Black Bird' featured a nice War groove (with a nod to the 'Paint It Black' melody), Burdon doing his best to sound funky.
7.) Spirit (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 5:30 rating: *** 3 stars
Not even Burdon's shrill, bellowing vocals could dampen the appeal of the extended, funky blues-flavored 'Spirit'. Propelled by a killer Charles Miller sax solo and some surprisingly sweet harmony vocals, this was my choice for the best song on the first album.
1.) Beautiful New Born Child - 5:07 rating: ** 2 stars
'Beautiful New Born Child' was a plodding, three note jam with a pissed-off sounding Burdon vamping on top of the melody. The sudden appearance of Sharon Scott and the Beautiful new Born Children of Southern California (no I'm not making that up), gave the song a weird, pseudo-Gospel vibe. rating: ** 2 stars
2.) Nights In White Satin I (Justin Hayward) - 4:28 rating: * 1 star
Just when you didn't think it could get stranger Burdon and company decided to launch into a cover of The Moody Blues 'Night In White Satin'. Burdon's croaking, half spoken, marbles-in-the-mouth delivery didn't exactly endear this version of the song. Really bad ... rating: * 1 star
3.) The Bird & the Squirrel (instrumental) (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 3:43 rating: * 1 star
'The Bird & the Squirrel' and 'Nuts, Seeds & Life' were a pair of thoroughly forgettable instrumentals. To be honest the only thing I can remember about them is an extended, jazzy B.B. Dickerson bass solo. Bad. rating: * 1 star
4.) Nuts, Seeds & Life (instrumental) (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 4:01 rating: * 1 star
5.) Out of Nowhere (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 3:22 rating: * 1 star
Hum, 'Out of Nowhere' offered up some Eric Burdon philosophy slapped on top of a jazzy War vibe. Sound good? It wasn't. rating: * 1 star
6.) Nights In White Satin II (Justin Hayward) - 2:51 rating: * 1 star
Side two ended with a brief, bluesy refrain on 'Nights In White Satin'. Did I mention it was brief?
'Sun/Moon' was a bland and plodding blues number. Even worse, the damn thing seemed to go on forever ... far longer than the ten minute playing time. Endless and totally forgettable.
2.) Pretty Colors (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 6:52 rating: *** 3 stars
'Pretty Colors' was actually a funky jam that worked. Yeah, the throwaway lyrics didn't add much to the song, but Burdon actually sounded engaged and mildly funky on this one. rating: *** 3 stars
3.) Gun (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 5:42 rating: ** 2 stars
'Gun' was an even better performance, if only due to the fact it was one of the few tracks that actually sounded like a true Burdon-War collaboration. Great stream-of-consciousness lyrics ...
4.) Jimbo (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 4:50 rating: ** 2 stars
'Jimbo' was a straightforward keyboard-powered funk jam. Perhaps because he wasn't trying to push it, Burdon actually sounded decent on the first half of the song. Unfortunately he then reverted to his standard vocal stance with the usual results ...
Compared to large chunks of this set 'Bare Back Ride' wasn't bad. At least for me, part of the appeal stemmed from the fact Burdon was largely absent from the song. Nice bluesy vibe from War ...
2.) Home Cookin' (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 4:10 rating: **** 4 stars
So having been consistently critical of Burdon across the earlier three sides, I have to admit that he sounded great on 'Home Cookin' ... Frankly I'm not sure how to account for the difference. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact the song had a catchy hook you could latch on to, or the fact Burdon finally seemed comfortable with a song, avoiding his usual over-the-top excesses. Very nice and one of my favorite performances on the LP.
3.) They Can't Take Away Our Music (Jerry Goldstein - Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 6:45 rating: **** 4 stars
Once you got over the hideous opening vamp, 'They Can't Take Away Our Music' turned into a surprisingly attractive slice of social commentary. Sharing lead vocals with various members of War, Burdon displayed an uncommon sense of restraint throughout most of the song (yeah, he went off the deep end towards the end of the song - blame Sharon Scott for egging the man on). The track also happened to sport the album's best melody ... Very nice.
MGM tapped the album for a single in the form of:
- 1971's 'Home Cookin'' b/w 'They Can't Take Away Our Music' (MGM catalog number K-14196)
Different singles were released in other parts of the world:
- 1971's 'Paint It Black' b/w 'Spirit' (Liberty catalog number 15441)
1971's 'Home Cookin'' b/w 'Jimbo' (Liberty catalog number 15 435)
Whereas the debut set felt like a true collaboration between Burdon and War, this one felt very much like the majority of talent in the partnership had transitioned to War. The fact virtually all of the material was written by War only underscored that sentiment.
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Love Is All Around
Country/State: UK / US
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 1188
Released five years after Eric Burdon and War had gone their separate ways, 1976's "Love Is All Around" was a six track compilation that pulled together a haphazard collection of early demos, alternate takes of previously released tracks, a couple of previously unreleased performances, and one track that was actually pulled from an Eric Burdon and Jimmy Witherspoon album ('Home Dream').. From a marketing standpoint the set seemed suspect, apparently released by ABC (which briefly had Burdon and company under contract in the 1969-70 timeframe), in an attempt to capitalize on War's mid-'70s commercial successes (note the "War Featuring Eric Burdon" billing). Nothing here was life altering and most Burdon and War fans had probably already heard most of these songs; if in alternate versions. Of the six tracks only the title track and their Beatles cover 'A Day In the Life' were previously unreleased efforts. The album's strongest tune was also the funkiest number - 'Magic Mountain'. So what to make of the compilation ? Well, far better than you would have expected, but outside of Burdon and War fans, it probably had a small audience.
All Around" track listing:
1.) Love Is All Around (Papa Dee Allen - Harold Brown - B.B. Dickerson - Lonnie Jordan - Charles Miller - Lee Oskar - Howard E. Scott) - 4:12 rating: ** stars
Geez, lyrically this was pretty embarrassing ... certainly not the kind of insight that was going to win Burdon and company any kind of awards for originality. Add to that Burdon's increasingly raw voice and the title track just didn't have a lot going for it which might explain why it had never been released before. YouTube has a 1971 live performance of the tune. Recorded in Copenhagen, the live version is considerably more funky than the studio track: Always laugh when I see Lee Oskar's massive 'fro. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s21Z648PPkM
2.) Tobacco Road (John D. Loudermilk) - 6:30 rating: *** stars
There are simply so many covers of 'Tobacco Road' that it's hard to listen to the tune without yawning. That said, this cover was surprisingly energetic and entertaining. Shorter and punchier than the version recorded on 1970's "Eric Burdon Declares War", the liner notes indicated this was the first tune recorded by Burdon and War. Recorded for a 1970 appearance on German TV's Beat-Club, YouTube has a nice extended clip of the song: Eric, more cowbell please .... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig4jQrofnBI
3.) A Day In the Life (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 11:05 rating: *** stars
Another previously unreleased track, who would have expected anything other than an aural disaster out of this one ? Amazingly their radical re-working of this Fab Four classic was actually mildly impressive. Yes clocking in at over eleven minutes it was far too long and Burdon's histrionics were unnecessary, but who would have thought about recasting the tune as a blues and jazz number?
One of the funkier numbers recorded by Burdon and War. Made even better by the inclusion of a touch of psychedelia. The track originally appeared as the 'B' side on the 'Spill the Wine' single. As one of the stronger tunes on the compilation, ABC tapped it as a single.
- 1977's 'Magic Mountain' b/w 'Home Dream' (ABC catalog number ABC-12244)
2.) Home Dream (Eric Burdon) - 7:12 rating: ** stars
The liner notes indicated this was an early Burdon/War collaboration, but Burdon also covered the tune with Jimmy Witherspoon on 1971's "Guilty" LP. Musically this was a pedestrian slice of straight forward blues; Lonnie Jordan's keyboards providing the major highlight.
3.) Paint It Black (Mick Jagger - Keith Richards) - 10:09 rating: *** stars
Burdon had already cut this Stones cover a couple of times. It appears on The Animals' 1967 "Winds of Change" LP, as well as 1972's "The Black-Man's Burdon" : The live version is okay, but again, clocking in at over ten minutes ... yes, it could have used some judicious editing. "One of the live War/Burdon classics. War's [patented Latin feeling features a flute solo by incomparable Charles Miller, a "fastest hands in the West" conga/percussion solo by Pap Dee Allen, and a boiling drum solo by Harold Brown. Recorded llive at the Whiskey, Los Angeles September 6, 1970." YouTube has a clip of the band performing the tune for German TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTbvJ-bYPh8
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Catalog: SE 4791
Country/State: UK / US
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: record has a slight warp, but doesn't impact play - no skips or pops
Catalog ID :6267
Following several outings with War, 1970's "Guilty!" found Burdon undertaking what was billed as a collaboration with blues man Jimmy Weatherspoon. Given most of War played on the album (and it was released on War's MGM affiliated Far Out label), if you wanted to be technical, you could probably make the argument this was actually the third Burdon/War collaboration. Regardless of the billing, to be perfectly honest, it took awhile to warm up to the LP. While billed as a collaboration, Burdon and Weatherspoon really didn't seem to do much in the way of true collaborations and when they actually did something together such as on '',, Witherspoon effectively wiped the floorboards with Burdon. "Laws Must Change" and "Soledad" were probably the two best efforts. Elsewhere, the ragged "Goin' Down Slow" was a live track, recorded at San Quinton prison. Commercially the set did little, failing to chart.
Rating: ** (2 stars)
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing
Catalog ID: 6268
In 1976 Eric Burdon recorded an album of new material with a reformed original Animals line-up. Legal issues saw the collection shelved for two years so Burdon decided to return to a solo career. Recruiting an all-star cast of friends and associates including Alex Korner and Zoot Money (who co-wrote the bulk of the album with Burdon), he went into London's Advision Studios, recording 1978's "Survivor" with former Animal Chas Chandler handling production chores. Surrounded by a crew of this caliber and talent, you would have hoped for something inspirational from Burdon. Didn't happen. Instead the album showcased Burdon clearly looking for direction - was he a pop star ? An R&B act ? A rocker ? Burdon clearly didn't know which way to turn. The end result was a mishmash of an album that ended up pleasing nobody. That was unfortunate since the collection exhibit flashes of true talent; especially when Burdon seemed to relax and let go of the 'tough guy' image he seemed so attached to. Check out his performances on 'Hook of Holland' and 'P.O. Box 500' ... fun and way more entertaining than anything else on the album.
"Survivor" track listing
1.) Rocky (Eric Burdon - Zoot Money) - 4:00 rating: *** stars
'Rocky' was a surprisingly decent slice of conventional rock with Burdon finding a key that was both comfortable and attractive. Picture the kind of stuff bands like Slade and Status Quo were churning out in the mid-1970s and you'll have a feel for this likable number. YouTube has a clip of Burdon lip-synching the song on the German television program PopRock (love the enthusiastic German audience): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og9wQSqCRL8
2.) Woman of the Rings (Eric Burdon) - 4:17 rating: *** stars
In contrast, the atmospheric ballad 'Woman of the Ring' was a more typical performance in that it aptly reflected the damage done to Burdon's voice. Quite a pretty track, the main problem with this one was Burdon's frog croak of a voice. You were left to wonder if he was actually going to make it through the whole song. Kicking in at the end of the song, Maggie Bell's shrieky voice didn't help the track.
3.) The Kid (Eric Burdon - Zoot Money) - 3:13 rating: ** stars
Another Burdon-Money composition, 'The Kid' was another likeable mid-tempo rocker that again featured a Burdon talk-sing performance. P.P. Arnold added her shrill backing vocals to the mix and hearing the pair of them trying to out-yell one another was actually kind of fun.
4.) The Tomb of the Unknown Singer (Johnnie Barnett) - 4:27 rating: * star
'The Tomb of the Unknown Singer' found Burdon trying to do country-blues number... Pompous and overblown, this one was just plain painful to sit through. I never thought I'd catch myself saying something like this, but I'd rather hear a Kris Kristofferson LP any day of the week. rating: * star
5.) Famous Flames (Eric Burdon - Zoot Money) - 4:16 rating: ** stars
'Famous Flames' could have been a decent blues-rocker, but producer Chandler seemingly felt obligated to bury Burdon under waves of shrill female backing singers and an overly busy arrangement. Oh well, this one was at least listenable.
1.) Hollywood Woman (Eric Burdon - Zoot Money) - 3:53 rating: ** stars
'Hollywood Woman' was a catchy enough song, but some horrible lyrics and another strangled vocal wiped out whatever momentum was generated. Taken from the same German television appearance referenced above, YouTube had a performance clip of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7AZPP7D0Zg&feature=related
2.) Hook of Holland (Eric Burdon - Zoot Money) - 4:31 rating: **** stars
Judging by the lyrics including the classic couplet "she has a calculator up her red dress ..." I'm guessing Burdon's affection for Amsterdam didn't have anything to do with the city's museums. Giving credit where due, this was easily the album's stand out tune. Burdon actually sounded engaged and as if he were having fun spitting this one out.
3.) I Was Born To Live the Blues (McGee) - 3:55 rating: * star
Yeah, Burdon's always enjoyed his reputation as a blues singer, but to my ears his barebones acoustic cover of 'I Was Born To Live the Blues' was simply dull and plodding.
4.) Highway Dealer (Eric Burdon - Zoot Money) - 3:26 rating: ** stars
After the last blues number, virtually anything would have sounded good. 'Highway Dealer'' certainly wasn't any great shakes, but luckily the song included a tasty, jazz-tinged lead guitar solo.
5.) P.O. Box 500 (Eric Burdon - Zoot Money) - 4:39 rating: **** stars
At least to my ears Burdon's always sounded better when he simply relaxed and didn't try too hard. That was definitively the case on the closer 'P.O. Box 500'. A rollicking rocker, Burdon sounded like he was having fun on this one and the results were one of the album's best performances.
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