Written by James Killen
Sep 14, 2013 at 02:00 AM
ImageBritish invasion veteran, Eric Burdon, has been recording for the last 50 years in various incarnations. He first hit the charts as the leader of the Animals, coming from the British Blues tradition and transitioning to the psychedelic movement with songs like “We Gotta Get Outta this Place.” He moved back closer to his roots with the funk band, War, as the decades moved from 1969 to 1970. Always, Burdon’s music was rock rooted in the blues and that is no more apparent than on his latest release, “’Til Your River Runs Dry”.

This record was released in February and so it’s not brand new, but in relation to Burdon’s career it’s very new. The sound is clean and well produced. The first cut “Water” is in the blues rock tradition, and a thinly disguised protest against our lack of concern about our environment, stating that “The enemy does not know who the enemy is”. “Memorial Day” continues in the same vein sporting a prominent back-beat by Brannen Temple and some nice Hammond B3 work by Red Young.

“Devil and Jesus” delves a little deeper into the blues end of the pool, with a little swamp boogie guitar. Jim Pugh’s piano and Eric NcFadden’s Spanish guitar gives “Wait” an uncharacteristic nightclub feel. “Old Habits Die Hard” rocks in a more “Animalistic” manner with some very bluesy rock leads.

“Bo Diddley Special” is a very special dedication to one of Eric’s blues rocking heroes, complete with Bo Diddley rhythm and a nice New Orleans feel about the tune. Johnny Lee Schell laid down some very cool slide guitar creeping to a climax over an organ gospel tone and one of the gutsiest blues vocal lines I’ve ever heard from a UK citizen for “In the Ground”.

The production with piano and horns behind Burdon’s voice on “27 Forever” creates an almost ghostly strain and features a well-crafted guitar lead. “River is Rising” (my personal favorite on this disc) is a primitive blues/jazz deep swamp tune sliding all about the delta that would make Dr. John say “Oh, Yeah…..” The disc follows that with a very tight production of Marc Cohn’s “Medicine Man” featuring the Eric’s deep and thoughtful vocals.

“Invitation to the White House” brought to mind Ry Cooder’s “John Lee Hooker for President” in that the blues cuts through the political junk and gets right down to what should be our priorities as a blues nation. Burdon ends the disc with Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me” performed in a mast traditional and convincing blues piano and guitar style.

Like the rest of us, Eric Burdon has grown up. The deep blues roots from which these songs were drawn and the very professional production pays tribute to the influences that folks like Bo Diddly, Pinetop Perkins and Howling Wolf had on Burdon in his early days. It’s almost as though he had taken those influences to the brink of the psychedelic era and now with this disc has returned full circle. This disc is great for Burdon fans and blues fans alike.