I just got done watching a video of The Animals performing "I'm Crying'' from the old Hullabaloo TV show. (It's hard to get past the hilarity of the dancers, or the band's introduction by Sammy Davis Jr. But it's worth it.)
You really have to hand it to Eric Burdon. That boy had a set of steel pipes (and a punk face to match). Not that it means anything, but Rolling Stone magazine in 2008 rated him No. 57 on its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
And apparently he's still going strong at 68. Happy birthday, bloke. You wonder how that voice -- gritty when we first heard it back during the British Invasion -- has held up this long. Of all the pond-jumping groups of that great era, The Animals brought the best fusion of blues and rock to the stage. It was all about Burdon's incredible voice, but the funky keyboards and guitar work completed the sound.
Finding the heart and edge in songs like "House of the Rising Sun'', "Bring It On Home To Me'', "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood'' and "CC Rider'', the Animals provided an R&B alternative to what was being heard on the commercial airwaves.
The Animals didn't last long enough, and Burdon would move on to San Francisco where he would be, to steal a word from a Chambers Brothers song, "psychedelicized.'' Few white singers could pull off a stint in the funk group War, but that was Burdon's voice for you. The results included "Spill the Wine'' and "Tobacco Road.''
Once you've spent time in San Francisco you can either leave your heart there, like Tony Bennett, or just stick around. Like Burdon sang in "San Franciscan Nights'':
I wasn't born there, perhaps I'll die there
There's no place left to go
I notice he has a show scheduled for the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, Calif. on June 13. If you're in the neighborhood you may want to check out the old Animal.