SOUL OF A MAN by ERIC BURDON
REVIEWED BY BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN
FOR MYSTERY ISLAND MUSIC
It’s never too late to bring attention to a great album. We listen to an awful lot of cool stuff on Mystery Island, but there are certain records that sort of haunt you. You find yourself going back—invoking those sounds over again—as if in séance.
Communicating via the awesome telepathy of music.
Eric Burdon is one of those cats who doesn’t need an intro, or at least he shouldn’t.
Front man for the great “Brit invasion” band, The Animals, creator of the first British psychedelic band: Eric Burdon & the Animals, front man for the ultra hip L.A. band, War, and so on. All a blues singer really needs is a band and a place to play.
Well here we have it. This eclectic voice has reached back, once again, to the necessary root of inspiration, the real deal, the OG American blues in the form of one Blind Willie Johnson, another Mystery Island favorite.
[Editor’s note: When you’re ordering your copy of Eric’s Soul of a Man you might want to drop The Complete Blind Willie Johnson compilation into your cart. You’ll be happy that you did].
Anyway, this studio album of Eric Burdon begins with the A+ rendition of the great Blind Willie tune: “Soul of a Man.” The respect given to the source material is obvious and soulful, but also super energized by Burdon’s passion for the music.
The next standout song for me, one for the permanent Burdon cannon is: “Como Se Llama Mama.” [Written by: Gregg Sutton & John Heron]. Sure, it may have something to do with the fact that I grew up in Northeast Los Angeles, but this one has it all in terms of that deep cool that took “House of the Rising Sun” to No. 1 in 1964. “Como” should be on the goddamned radio. ‘Nuff said.
“GTO” is proof positive that this boy can sing, whether he believes it or not.
Moving right along, let’s talk about Chester Burnett. He’s a songwriter, who not only brought rhythm & blues to life—possibly more than anyone else—but also greatly influenced rock & roll, if labels even matter. Many-a-band have covered this man’s work, and when you listen to Eric Burdon perform “Forty Four” you will know why they called Chester Burnett, Howlin’ Wolf.
“Slow Moving Train,” a tribute to Robert Kennedy takes an even more morose and melancholy turn when you consider that Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker died while the musicians were laying down these tracks, and the album is dedicated to them.
SOUL OF A MAN is a keeper, and I’ve only talked about a sampling of the 14 songs available on this CD. When I listen to anything made in the 21st century—I half-heartedly hope I get at least one great song. How many albums have you listened to that were built around one decent tune?
Right. Well here’s one that delivers from first note to last.
Check it out.
Bradley Mason Hamlin
August 29, 2009
ERIC BURDON INTERVIEW
"Soul of a Man Review" by Bradley Mason Hamlin. Edited by Lucy Hell. Published 08.29.09 © 2009 Mytery Island Publications. All rights reserved.
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