Friday, November 16, 2007

The Animals - Monterey

(MGM, 1967)

The Monterey Pop Festival went down back in ’67, and ace reporter Eric Burdon was ON THE SCENE, digging it all left and right, to give the record-buying public the scoop.

NEWSFLASH! “Even the cops grooved with us!”

This is just one of many Animals songs built around Burdon’s name-checking and wide-eyed LUV of the music world’s peacetastic brother-/sisterhood. I had always assumed that this rather annoying style was a later development, something he started doing after he had his mind blown by the SF hippies and formed the turned-on “new” Animals in early 1967, but in fact the first song on the first UK album features a discourse on the history of r’n’r, right up through the Beatles and the Stones. Huh; guess that was just Burdon’s thing. So anyway, yeah, the ultra-earnest lyrics are an embarrassing drag, but the music’s a decent – if sleek – mix of sitar, horns, and prominent bass, far different from the organ-centric stuff for which the Animals are better known. However: Every time Burdon gushes over someone – The Who! Jimi Hendrix! The Grateful Dead! Ravi Shankar! – the band plays a few notes meant to give us an idea of what that particular dude sounded like. Needless to say, the whole operation reeks of cheese.

Things improve on the non-LP “Ain’t That So,” a fun freak-empowerment tune (“Freak on! Freak on!”) with some fine shouting from ol’ Eric, and an overall beat-group style that sounds straight outta ’65. Recommended!

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