CD Review - Eric Burdon "'Til Your River Runs Dry"

“Oh Lord! Please don't let me be misunderstood,” Eric Burdon pleaded in 1964 on his Animal Tracks album. But despite his pleadings, Burdon‘s career had nearly disappeared until during a speech at SXSW last year, Bruce Springsteen credited that song as being the inspiration for Badlands., then helped Burdon  resurrect his career  by bringing him onstage with the E Street band later that night  to perform “We Gotta Get Outta This  Place.”

Like many of his Brit compatriots, Burdon took inspiration from American black blues musicians.  Fronting the Animals stark blues rock (“House of the Rising Sun, ..Misunderstood”) and War’s funky psychedelic soul (“Spill The Wine,”) Burdon’s gruff, gritty vocals graced fifty albums to date.

But nothing since his War days has really stood out, and for decades he’s been mentioned mostly for his early accomplishments.

‘Til Your River Runs Dry should change all that. Not that it contains any groundbreaking content, but it’s just a good solid performance from a guy who deserves to be remembered for more than his hits in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Water” is supposed to be the breakout single, but it seems a bit overblown, an attempt at a ‘60s era protest song that’s a bit too preachy and overly dramatic, like the spoken word works of William Shatner.

Other than that, it’s a very listenable record. “Devil and Jesus” has a funky hoodoo vibe with Burdon singing better than he has in decades. The original composition borrows from gospel, soul, and blues for a funky morality lesson. “Wait” sounds like Marty Robbins channeling Leonard Cohen, backed by dusty streets of Laredo guitar. “Old Habits Die Hard” is a bad ass’s survival boast worthy of Joe Walsh in composition and tone.

Burdon includes two tributes to Bo Diddley. “Ashes to ashes and dust  to dust/if the women don’t getcha/Bo Diddley must,” Burdon  chants at the start of “Bo Diddley Special,” paying homage to what he dubs “that polongo beat,” Diddley’s signature shave and a haircut backbeat that  Burdon says  came roaring through his life. “He had a hand like a plate of fish and chips,” Burdon declaims with one of the best mixed metaphors in rock to date. His take on Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me” crawls along on its belly like a King snake, deadly and vicious, with Burdon roaring exuberantly in all his phlegmy glory.

Burdon wrote or co-wrote 10 of the12 tunes here, and its impressive   work.  And with the help of Jon Cleary as collaborator and organist on “River Is Rising,” Burdon even manages to capture the hoodoo vibe of New Orleans with a Dr. John night-tripper era feel.  

Eric Burdon is back, bigger and better than ever. It’s about time- for him and for us. 

By Grant Britt 

Views: 1717

Comment by Joseph May on February 15, 2013 at 10:26am

   Like Bruce, Eric's the guy that got me into music back in the 60's and your review is right-on. I got the cd and it's his best over all album since his days with War. The thing with Eric like any great artist is that for every House, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, It's My Life, Don't Bring Me Down, Sky Pilot, Monterey, When I Was Young, or San Franciscan Nights. He had gems like this that didn't get the air-play they deserved and still don't on your so called classic rock stations = Rock Me Baby, Smoke Stack Lighting, Hit The Road Jack, Bury My Body, Spirit, Pretty Colors, Shake, Home Cookin', No More Elmore James, I'm Ready,  They Can't Take Away Our Music!!! ect. ect.

   I guess you could say Eric was my foundation  for  searching  for "Great Music". So Rock On Eric!!!!!! 

Comment by TJ on February 16, 2013 at 9:20am

     Well, he "sort of" wrote "Invitation To The White House." The song is an almost word-for-word, note-for-note copy of Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's "I Had A Dream," which I have on Eddie's 1971 live recording from Montreux, Switzerland.  I knew the song sounded awfully familiar when I first played "'Til Your River Runs Dry." For all his homaging to Bo Diddley, it's a shame Eric gave no attribution to Eddie Vinson for this particular song.

Comment by Bruce Parkinson on February 19, 2013 at 12:59pm

I thought 2004's My Secret Life was a pretty terrific 'comeback' album. Variety of styles, voice sounds great, some pretty compelling original tunes.

Comment by andy aitken on February 22, 2013 at 2:41am

Thanks for posting Grant. Haven't heard anything about Eric for a long time though I still have my Black Man's Burdon LP which I still love.

Comment by paul kearney on February 22, 2013 at 6:43am

Agreed. EB is amazing... "overfed, long haired, leaping gnome". Makes the Energizer Bunny look like a pink wind-up rabbit banging a stupid bass drum. So, yeah, keep rockin'it Mr. Burdon!

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.