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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Animals - Animalism (1966 uk, essential rhythm 'n' blues roots rock, 2014 remaster and expanded)

As with many of their 1960s contemporaries, the Animals were beholden to blues, gospel, and r&b;, even as they combined those rhythms with prevailing rock sounds. Like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, they idolized Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley, among other black American performers, and the Animals even shared a stage with Sonny Boy Williamson. Singer Eric Burdon also had the voice to sell the sound: sandpaper-raw, effortlessly loud, and, like Mick Jagger, intimately lewd, as if every lyric contained some potential double entendre.

On their 1966 album Animalism, they indulge their white-soul jones more heavily than ever before, and the songs-- mostly covers-- volley between the derivative and the inventive. On Animalism, amid near-complete turnover of the original lineup, the Animals play up their r&b; chops on blues and soul covers, and Burdon continues to try to match his heroes by pushing his performance over the top. His voice is undeniably strong-- and this type of approach certainly had a particular appeal 40 years ago-- but his soulman affectations sound practiced, imitative rather than instinctual. 

Burdon oversells these songs, especially on Sam Cooke's "Shake" and the slow, simmering version of "Hit the Road, Jack", and his vocals on "Rock Me Baby" make the song's innuendo all too obvious. Strangely, on "The Other Side of Life" he takes a slightly different tack, aiming for a sound between Elvis and Jim Morrison, but he winds up sounding smaller than the former and smarter than the latter. It should be no surprise that his best performances-- also his most restrained-- are on the originals "Outcast" and "Louisiana Blues". Burdon's vocals sound more spontaneous and individual, perhaps because he doesn't have an example to mimic on these songs-- or maybe because modern listeners have no other examples against which to measure his performance.

Balancing out Burdon's vocals, the Animals prove a powerful band, despite the fact that nearly half of them were new replacements. They're rock solid, but unlike their singer, they rarely showboat. Together they put the real soul in these songs. Hilton Valentine lays down some bluesy riffs on "Smoke Stack Lightning", but he's best when trading off with organist Dave Rowberry on "Rock Me Baby" and "All Night Long", forming a rowdy call and response. It's the rhythm section, however, that shapes the songs and allows the band to move so agilely around Burdon. Bassist Chas Chandler and drummer Barry Jenkins (a sturdy replacement for original member John Steel) put the shake in "Shake", pushing a swampy beat to its breaking point, and Jenkins' high hat and snare drive the up-and-down stomp on "Lucille". This type of playing doesn't go out of style.
by Stephen M. Deusner

1. All Night Long (Frank Zappa) - 2:50
2. Shake (Sam Cooke) - 3:16
3. The Other Side Of This Life (Freddie Neil) - 3:31
4. Rock Me Baby (B.B. King, Joe Josea) - 5:26
5. Lucille (Albert Collins, Richard Penniman) - 2:21
6. Smokestack Lightning (Chester Burnett) - 5:13
7. Hey Gyp (Donovan Leitch) - 3:49
8. Hit The Road Jack (Percy Mayfield) - 3:20
9. Outcast (Ernie Johnson, Edgar Campbell) - 2:38
10.Louisiana Blues (McKinley Morganfield) - 2:42
11.That's All I Am To You (Otis Blackwell, Winfield Scott) - 2:12
12.Going Down Slow (James B. Oden) - 6:24
13.C.C. Rider (Ma Rainey, Lena Arant) - 3:56
14.A Love Like Yours (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edward Holland, Jr) - 3:00
15.Shake, Rattle And Roll (Charles E. Calhoun) - 3:06
16.Tobacco Road (John D. Loudermilk) - 4:20
17.Roadrunner (Ellas McDaniel) - 2:49
18.When I Was Young (Eric Burdon, Vic Briggs, John Weider, Barry Jenkins, Danny McCulloch) - 3:03
19.A Love Like Yours (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edward Holland, Jr.) - 2:44
20.Connection (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 2:25
21.It's All Meat (Barrie Ernest Jenkins, Danny Mcculloch, Eric Victor Burdon, John Weider, Victor Briggs) - 2:09
22.San Franciscan Nights (Eric Burdon, Vic Briggs, John Weider, Barry Jenkins, Danny McCulloch) - 3:03
23.All Night Long (Frank Zappa) - 2:40
Tracks 13-17 Live In Germany, Jan 1967
Tracks 18-20 BBC Sessions 30th Jan 1967
Tracks 21-23 BBC Sessions 15th Aug 1967

*Eric Burdon - Lead Vocals
*Chas Chandler - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Rowberry - Organ, Piano
*Hilton Valentine - Guitar
*Barry Jenkins - Drums
*John Steel - Drums
*Frank Zappa - Guitar, Bass
*William Roberts - Harmonica
*Larry Knechtel- Organ
*Don Randi- Piano
*Carol Kaye- Guitar
*John Guerin- Drums
*Vic Briggs - Guitar, Piano
*Danny Mcculloch - Bass Guitar
*John Weider - Guitar, Violin

1964-67  The Animals - The Complete French EP (ten disc edition) 
1967  Eric Is Here
1967  Winds of Change (2013 Double SHM CD)
1968  The Twain Shall Meet (2013 Japan SHM)
1966-68  Roadrunners! Rare Live And Studio Recordings
1974-75  The Eric Burdon Band - Sun Secrets / Stop 

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