Wild and Wicked
You might be too old to rock and roll, but you’re never too old to issue a disc of unreleased “rarities” and live cuts. Burdon, late of The Animals and War returns to the scene with a new studio CD and this collection of unreleased studio and live material.
Burdon keeps the electric bluesy sound than put him on the map, and this album sounds like he never went on hiatus. Its old school rock and roll, young and angry like disco and punk never existed. The writing is strong, even if the topics of drugs and ghetto and religious skepticism are exactly where we last remember hearing him. “River of Blood” is as good a track as any from the studio half of this album — rough and raunchy, a bit mysterious on first listen, and kind of creepy when you figure it out. That happens about 3 minutes along, when the Indian chanting begins. This guy is nothing if not symbolic.
The live tracks are the weaker half of the project. They tend to ramble, and while they are clean enough to sound good, songs like “Funky Fever” lack the focus needed to engage. When it ends, you’re sort of happy, and it’s not like you wish there was more. Like most live albums, it’s not as good as the studio stuff, with mixing compromises and crowd noise never really capturing the energy of a festival audience.
For you aging hippies, Burdon’s resurrection is worth getting for memories of that decade we swear we can’t remember. It’s also a great gift for your grandchildren; I’ve found the current generation really appreciates the sounds we grew up with. I think there are some parents in the middle somewhere, but it’s time to corrupt America’s youth with that devil music once again.
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