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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Eric Burdon

My Secret Life

Review by Josh Turner

This artist is best known for the hit House of the Rising Sun. During the song's golden era, he was the lead singer for The Animals. It's been years since he's been in the limelight. Yet, this album makes it evident that Eric Burdon has never left music and continues to be an asset to his trade.

This is a wonderful album with thoroughly thought out tunes. He gives us hooks, lines, and sinkers. He uses a bounty of tips, tricks, and techniques to reel us in with the catch of the day. Don't be left out in open water. Swim on over to My Secret Life.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Once Upon A Time
With similar compositions and arrangements this song would be suitable on Sting's Sacred Love. His lyrics are incredibly clever. He references songs like Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On, Otis Redding's Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, Sam Cook's Bring it on Home, and Elvis Presley's Blue Suede Shoes. He cunningly incorporates the key lines and titles from these songs into the snappy chorus.
Motorcycle Girl
This is a mamba fused with light jazz. It has all the sensibilities of pop with the bare essentials of a simple chant. Eric articulates attitude with his gruffy vocals.
Over the Border
The singing is superb and reminds me of John Cougar Melloncamp and Bruce Springsteen. There is also a tad bit of Bryan Adams' Summer of '69 in the beat. Marlene Jeter, Valerie Davis, and Kudaisan Kai do a fabulous job harmonizing. When they sing the line Over the Border, it sounds a lot like The Drifter's Under the Boardwalk.
The Secret
Something lies hidden in this steamy bayou. There are odd percussive sounds that randomly click and clang. Curiosity compels you to proceed further into the swamp. There is a foreboding sense that something is foul in these parts. The danger comes closer with each and every step.
Factory Girl
This is most like Burdon's House of the Rising Sun. There is no reason to fix what already works, and this song takes another stab at it. While the lyrics are different, the keyboards are slightly more prevalent, and there is even a Celtic feel about it, the cut still manages to embrace the nostalgia of the original.
Highway
While Burdon's endeavor here is bluesy, I get a sense of the Rolling Stones. Burdon has great phrasings. The harmonica is a nice touch too.
Jazzman
As the title suggests, this is the jazziest piece on the album. Joe Sublett's sax is smart, Darrell Leonard's trumpet is tasty, and Tony Braunagel's drums are both delicate and decadent. Red Young has several priceless solos on his piano. This piece is much different than the others. Situated at the center point, it brings balance to the rest of the album.
Black and White World
Burdon takes a tangent from the last. In this song, he boogies down and acts a little batty. The lyrics are just plain loony. A critical coworker sampled this album out of curiosity. Typically, he scrutinizes all the music that comes his way. However, he liked this song so much that he could not refrain from expressing his glee over it. He didn't stay around long to chat. He had to return to his desk to play it again.
Heaven
This is a play on words as Heaven is a bar that's closer to hell. The song is slow and somber. It's bittersweet in a Louis Armstrong sort of way. Marlene's backing vocals during the chorus are sensitive, polite, and classy.
Devil Slide
The dialogue in the beginning is similar to Charlie Daniel's Devil Went Down to Georgia. The rest is unmistakably influenced by country rock. This could be easily exchanged with Hank Williams Jr.'s anthem from Monday Night Football (Are You Ready for Some Football?).
Broken Records
This is a slow dance in a honkey tonk bar. The floor is sticky, the air is smoky, and the lights are dimmed softly. Throughout a crowd of cowboys, the leather boots squeak while the ten gallon hats sway.
Can't Kill the Boogieman
This shares the same beat as George Thorogood & the Destroyers' Bad to the Bone. While Marlene adds the sugar, Mike Finnigan's piano produces the spice.
My Secret Life
Eric Burdon continues to put a twist on the classics. In this one, he borrows from the all-so-famous Stand By Me. The dawdling drums and bumpy bass are found at the forefront. Martin Gerschwitz's organ is an apparition that merely exists in the form of a muted undertone. Julie Delgado's vocals are a variable in this familiar formula. The album as a whole is catchy and engrossing. It meanders in many directions. Eric Burdon still has the goods. In some ways, this is his best material to date.
 
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