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Welcome to Rock of Agers

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Eric Burdon Lets Me Ride in His Musical Time Machine

I first saw Eric Burdon and the Animals live at Steel Pier in Atlantic City at the Jersey shore in 1966. I saw them once again last night at the new City Winery in Atlanta where I now live.

Here are some of my thoughts on hearing Eric and some of the same songs live 50 years later.

Mama Told Me Not to Come
This song, made famous by Three Dog Night in the 70s, was originally written by Randy Newman for a solo album Eric Burdon never did record. Interesting choice for a show-opener.

When I Was Young
When this song came out in 1967, I never envisioned that I would be using it in a classroom decades later.

Don't Bring Me Down
Flat out one of my favorite songs of all-time. I was still playing this in bands in the first years of the 21st Century. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been covering this in concert for years. Animals played this at Steel Pier 50 years ago.

Inside Looking Out
Liked this song when it first appeared on the album Animalization. Later covered by Grand Funk. Played it a few bands in the late 60s and 70s. Animals played this at Steel Pier concert.

With his new keyboard-less band, Burdon played the historic Monterey Pop festival in 1967. This began his psychedelic approach to music. "Monterey" was written to capture the essence of that first major music festival. One of the greatest 2-chord songs in rock.

The Fool
This Sanford Clark cover is from the original Animals last album Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, recorded when the group briefly reunited in 1977. Harkens back to the pure blues sounds of Animal tracks like "I'm Mad" and "Smokestack Lighting."

In the Pines
Another traditional blues song. This one features Burdon's new keyboard player on New Orleans style piano.

It's My Life
Crowd sing-along here. A new arrangement, but still recognizable. Bruce Springsteen credits the Animals with a tremendous influence on his decision to become a musician and a jazzy version of this song was a staple of the early years of the E Street Band. The Animals played this at Steel Pier.

Bo Diddley Special
Burdon is one of early influential rocker Diddley's biggest fans. This song, which he has been playing live in concert since the early 60s, shows why. Of course, it is set with that famous Diddley beat.

Sky Pilot/Space Oddity
This mashup of Burdon's anti-war song and the David Bowie single that launched his career was probably the high point of the concert for me. Before beginning the song, Burdon, who himself is now 75, talked about Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, and a few others who the rock world lost in 2016.

Bring It on Home to Me
The Sam Cooke classic, as done by The Animals, became a staple of garage bands of the 60s. Anmals played this at Steel Pier.

The House of the Rising Sun
What's to say. This is still the greatest slow song to come out of the British Invasion. When you think Animals, you think House of the Rising Sun. Great arrangement tonight. Began with acoustic guitar and vocals, then band members played their way in. Of course, played at Steel Pier and thousands of times since.

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Originally written by Nina Simone, Burdon and the Animals made the song one of their own. Animals played this at Steel Pier.

We Got to Get Out of This Place
After "House of the Rising Sun", this is the most recognizable hit for the original Animals. It has been named the favorite song of Vietnam Veterans. Speaks of the eternal desire of so many to escape the working class life of a small town. Animals played this at Steel Pier.

Hold on I'm Coming
Originally recorded by the great Stax duo of Sam and Dave, Burdon has been closing with this song on this tour. The big difference is this is the first time since his 1970s involvement with the soul band War that Burdon has been touring with 2 horn players so it allows him to perform this horn-driven song.

Encore 1
Songs that Burdon and his new Animals have been playing on this tour that they didn't play in Atlanta and I would have enjoyed hearing:
  1. "See See Rider "- my favorite Animals song until it was replaced by Don't Bring Me Down.
  2. "Spill the Wine" - Burdon's huge (and last hit) with War.
  3. "Darkness Darkness" - cover of the 60s hit by Jesse Colin Young
  4. "For What It's Worth" - one of rock's great protest songs recorded by Buffalo Springfield
Encore 2
Don't Bring Me Down (live on this tour)

Encore 3
Space Oddity/Sky Pilot (live on this tour)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Eric Burdon 50 Years Later

Eric Burdon and the original Animals
Eric Burdon still performing today

2016 definitely hasn't been kind to classic rock and its fans.

We have seen the deaths of several great artists from the classic rock era including David Bowie, Glen Frey, Paul Kantner, and Keith Emerson. Just in the last few days we've witnessed that list grow with the deaths of Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell.

Of course, we will always have the music these artists produced and the memories they gave us, both on our old stereos and live in concert.

And I think the deaths of so many well-known producers of the musical sound for us Baby Boomers has given a renewed appreciation of those artists such as Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, the Stones, Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey , Neil Young, and Rogers Waters who are still playing like they all did at the costly, yet hugely successful 2-week Desert Trip festival last night.

I say all this to explain why I am so excited to see Eric Burdon tonight at the City Winery here in Atlanta and hear many of my favorite Animals songs from the 60s and 70s performed by his new band.

From 1964 to 1969, Eric Burdon and the original Animals, who like the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, and the Yardbirds were all part of the British Invasion of the mid 60s, were my favorite group.
By 1970, the Animals were no more and the Rolling Stones moved into my top slot, a position they held until about 2000 when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band replaced them.

But even though the Animals disbanded, decades ago,  Burdon has continued to make music, first as the singer for the band War, then as a solo artist and finally as a leader of several different bands playing the Animals top songs and other blues-type tunes.

I first saw the Animals live in 1966 at the historic Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They had just released 2 of my all-time favorite Animal tracks - "Don't Bring Me Down" and their cover version of "See See Rider."

Now I had seen a few other bands including the Who earlier and I have seen hundreds of bands since, but this was the 1st time I watched a band that I secularly worshipped.  It's a memory of a special day that remains deeply embedded in me.

So to Eric Burdon, and all of those early rockers we have lost and all of those who are still here, a profound thanks for your music and the accompanying memories.

And a special not to Mr. Burdon: If you hear a 64-year-old Animals fan scream out "Don't Bring Me Down" and "See See Rider " in a few hours, please play those great songs. After all, you don't often get the chance to remove 50 years from your life and live again with all the pleasure of a 14-year-old hearing his favorite band live in concert for the very first time.

Encore - My Top 10 Animals Tracks Listed Chronologically
  1. "House of the Rising Sun"
  2. "I'm Crying:
  3. "Boom Boom"
  4. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
  5. "Bring It On Home"
  6. "We Got to Get Out of This Place"
  7. "It's My Life"
  8. "Inside Looking Out"
  9. "Don't Bring Me Down"
  10. "See See Rider"

Thursday, November 10, 2016

In The Hall: On the Road with a Magic Bus

Like so many members of the Baby Boomer generation, music - specifically rock and its related siblings country, blues, soul, gospel, and jazz - has played a central role in my life and the society surrounding it.
Cleveland DJ Alan Freed, who is credited with popularizing the term rock and roll, also is acknowledged to have staged the first rock concert on March 21, 1952. On March 26, of that same year I was born, meaning that rock music, which has shaped me in so many ways, predates my arrival on the planet by only 5 days.
Recently, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for 2 days of exploration and research. In this ongoing series of posts entitled In the Hall, I will offer some glimpses of what you can find there if you too (or U2 in rock lingo) do visit the national mecca of rock history.

Rock music is replete with traveling songs and motifs. Pink Cadillac. On the Road Again. Get Your Motor Runnin'. All Come to Look for America. Hey Little Travelin' Band.

When the artists who write and perform those songs first start out in the business, they travel by car or van. If they are lucky enough, a favored few, like Elvis Presley, eventually get their own private jets. But for many rockers, the main source of movement is provided by their tour busses.

And one of the more famous, the one used used  Johnny Cash, is now on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Cash used the touring bus called the JC Unit One for the last two decades of his career.

"I have a home that takes me anywhere I need to go," Cash wrote in his 1997 autobiography. "It cradles me and comforts me. It lets me nod off in the mountains and wake up in the plains. My bus- we call Unit One. I love my bus. It really is my home. When I make it off another plane and through another airport, the sight of that big black MCI waiting by the curb sends waves of relief through me."

ENCORE - Some Bus Facts
  • Cash spent $553,000 customizing the bus in 1980.
  • He sold the bus in July of 2003 after his beloved wife June Carter Cash, who rode with her husband on his trips, died. Cash passed away 2 months later.
  • The 2nd compartment was for Cash. It contained Jamaican mahogany wood paneling and and doors. Since Jamaica bans export of that wood, the mahogany was first made into crates and then smuggled into the US.
  • Since Willie Nelson frequently traveled with Cash as part of their Highwaymen group, mahogany was probably the only illegal substance big in Jamaica on the bus that begin with the letter "M."
  • All the closets were lined with cedar.
  • Each of the compartments was equipped with a TV and a stereo, with individual remote-controlled antennas.
  • Cash had a rotisserie oven installed on the coach because of his love of barbeque.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

6 Classic Rock Songs for Election Day 2016

6. Jimi Hendrix - The Star Spangled Banner

5. Politician - Cream

4. Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen

3. Volunteers Of America - Jefferson Airplane

2. Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who

1. Elected - Alice Cooper

Monday, November 7, 2016

Name That Band - The Beatles

Original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe came up with the name the Beetles in 1960, which was a play on Buddy Holly's backing band the Crickets.

John Lennon later altered the spelling to Beatals.

The final version - Beatles - was suggested by 19-year-old poet Royston Ellis who suggested that spelling as double play on both the beat poetry and beat music of the 50s.

Of course, before there was the Beatles, there was the Quarrymen. We should all be glad of the name change. Somehow, Quarrymen-mania just doesn't sound right.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Roots of Rock: He's a Rebel Rocks to #1 in 1962

Maybe it was because I was such a south-favoring Civil War buff when I was a kid. Or maybe it's because I called my first dog Rebel. Or maybe I somehow knew I would grow up to be a bad-boy nonconformist.

But whatever the reason, one of the 1st great girl songs that ever captivated me was the the Crystals "He's a Rebel," which reached #1 on the Billboard charts on this date in 1962.

The song, I was to learn later, had an interesting history.

Written by Gene "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" Pitney and produced by the legendary Phil Spector, even though they are credited with the song, The Crystals didn't actually sing on the record. It was performed in the studio by a group called The Blossons, featuring a then-unknown singer named Darlene Love.

Spector knew that another version of the song by singer Vicki Carr was almost ready for release. But he wanted to get his own version of the record released first. Since the Crystals were on tour, Spector summoned the Blossoms to the studio to sing the song, but it was then released under the Crystals name.

"He's a Rebel" is a classic love song about a girl in love with a boy who rejects society's conventions. The singer claims he is simply misunderstood by others and is sweet and faithful to her. In turn, she vows to be faithful to him even though "he's not one of the crowd".

Darlene Love & Bette Middler team up  "He's a Rebel"
Note: You 'll probably recognize the guitar player in the background.